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In the mountains when the whole party was brought into the mountain and Bilbo found Gollum, were those creatures orcs, goblins, or something else? I initially thought they were orcs (guess I wasn't paying quite enough attention to what they looked like) but my girlfriend said they were goblins. I'm a bit confused. So were they supposed to be goblins or orcs?

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I don't know what the difference between Orcs and Goblins is but they were definitely Goblins. –  PriestVallon Dec 18 '12 at 3:48
did they add orcs to the movie? because I don't remember them in the book –  user7492 Jan 6 '14 at 18:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

From a Tolkien FAQ:

They are different names for the same race of creatures.

Of the two, "Orc" is the correct one.

This has been a matter of widespread debate and misunderstanding, mostly resulting from the usage in the The Hobbit (Tolkien had changed his mind about it by The Lord of the Rings but the confusion in the earlier book was made worse by inconsistent backwards modifications).


In the The Hobbit, which originally was unconnected with the The Silmarillion, he used the familiar term "goblin" for the benefit of modern readers.

By the time of The Lord of the Rings, however, he'd decided that "goblin" wouldn't do... Thus, in The Lord of the Rings, the proper name of the race is "Orcs" (capital "O"), and that name is found in the index along with Ents, Men, etc., while "goblin" is not in the index at all.

There are a handful of examples of "goblin" being used (always with a small "g") but it seems in these cases to be a kind of slang for Orcs.

[click the link for more info]

Note: The Hobbit was puplished in 1937, The Lord of the Rings in 1954/55.

In the movie this guy was referred to as Goblin King, who ruled over Goblin Town.

  Goblin King [Source]

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Are you sure the Tolien FAQ is right on this? I'm pretty sure that goblins are more monster-like, skinnier, and dumber, while orcs are more human-like (anatomically) and talk with lower voices, and are taller and stronger. –  poepje Mar 27 '13 at 0:09
Also, in the video games, orcs and goblins are always separate creatures (that you can recruit as unit for example) –  poepje Mar 27 '13 at 0:09
@poepje - The LotR-Wiki also says the same: Tolkien explained in a note at the start of The Hobbit that he was using English to represent the languages used by the characters, and that goblin (or hobgoblin for the larger kind) was the English translation he was using for the word Orc –  Oliver_C Mar 27 '13 at 10:52
@poepje - continued: A clear illustration that Tolkien considered goblins and orcs to be the same thing... is that in "The Hobbit" Gandalf asks Thorin if he remembers "Azog the Goblin", while in all his other writings Tolkien describes Azog as a "great Orc." –  Oliver_C Mar 27 '13 at 10:53
Alright, that's clear then, thanks. –  poepje Mar 27 '13 at 16:31

Orcs and goblins are most certainly related, if not even the same creature. Tolkien, in early drafts of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, would sometimes use the terms interchangably. Later, it seems he came to see orc as a more generic term, and goblin a specific term for larger-in-stature creatures.

There is also evidence that Tolkien considered orc to be a term hobbits would use, when others would use the term goblin, or perhaps orc a more proper term while goblin was a more colloquial one.

Wikipedia provides more clarification:


In the LOTR movies, the term orc is used almost exclusively, staying consistent with the books. In The Hobbit movies, Peter Jackson also chose to use the term orc over goblin most of the time, presumably to keep the movie feeling like a part of his other trilogy. However, he made the decision to make them look differently than the creatures in the LOTR movies.

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Orcs are pale white creatures that are tall and are an enemy of the dwarves, goblins are greedy nasty creatures that are very cruel and they live in the side of misty mountain and in the mines of Moira orcs destroyed Moira and beheaded the king under the mountain (thorn's grandfather)

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