'Hobgoblin' vs 'Green Goblin': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on September 7, 2023

Are you wondering what the difference is between a 'hobgoblin' vs. 'Green Goblin?' I can help!

Here is the short answer:

  • 'Hobgoblin' is a noun that means mischievous goblin, but it is also a Marvel character that was originally identified as Ned Leeds and later changed to Roderick Kingsley.  
  • 'Green Goblin' is a character in the Marvel Comics Spider-Man series whose alter ego was first Norman Osborn and later his son Harry Osborn. 

To learn more about the difference between these terms, read this entire guide.

What's the Difference Between 'Hobgoblin' vs. 'Green Goblin?'

Hobgoblin’ and ‘Green Goblin’ are both characters in the Marvel Comics Spider-Man series. Both characters have a human alter ego, and they both came about due to a serum the human counterpart took to gain superhuman strength. 

One of the major differences between the two is:

  • The 'Green Goblin' serum causes mental illness in the form of insanity and a loss of personal identity
  • The 'Hobgoblin' serum eliminates some of the drawbacks, allowing the user to maintain their sense of self.

Green Goblin’ first debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #14 as Norman Osborn, the son of a wealthy father who was abusive and squandered his family's vast fortune. Norman Osborn became the 'Green Goblin' when he decided to enter into a life of organized crime so he could regain his family's fortune after his wife passed away shortly after their son, Harry, was born. 

The ‘Hobgoblin’ was originally revealed to be Ned Leeds in 1987, but ten years later, the comic book and film company changed the ‘Hobgoblin’s’ identity to Roderick Kingsley to fit the new adaptation of the Spider-Man series. 

'Hobgoblin' and 'Green Goblin' go face to face in #261 of the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1, in which 'Green Goblin' admits that 'Hobgoblin' is the stronger of the two characters.

Another significant difference in these terms is that 'hobgoblin' is a recognized term in the English dictionary, while 'Green Goblin' is a made-up name by writers of the Spider-Man series.

Definition of 'Hobgoblin': What Does 'Hobgoblin' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'hobgoblin' is a noun that means:

  • A mischievous or troublesome goblin that annoys people and causes minor injuries

Definition of 'Green Goblin': What Does 'Green Goblin' Mean?

As I mentioned earlier, there is no official definition of 'Green Goblin' because it is a made-up fictional character.

When to Use 'Hobgoblin' vs. 'Green Goblin'

Now that you have an idea of the difference between a 'hobgoblin' and 'Green Goblin,' here are some tips on when and how to use each term: 

  • Use 'hobgoblin' to describe a mythical troublesome creature who causes annoyance and minor injuries to its target.

For example, I might say something like:

I am trying to work; please stop being a hobgoblin and let me finish. 

  • Use 'Green Goblin' when talking about the Marvel character whose alter ego is Norman or Harry Osborn.

As an example, you could say:

Green Goblin is the primary nemesis of Spider-Man in the 2002 film Spider-Man.

  • Use 'Hobgoblin' to refer to the Marvel character who faced off with 'Green Goblin' in episode #261 of the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1.

So, you could say:

My favorite comic book is #261 of the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1, in which Hobgoblin and Green Goblin face off. 

  • Use 'Green Goblin' to refer to the green hobgoblin-like character in the Spider-Man series.

For example, you might say:

Green Goblin is a character in the Spider-Man series that possesses the traits of a traditional hobgoblin. He annoys and attempts to injure Spider-Man.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Hobgoblin' vs. 'Green Goblin'

Next, let's look at the pronunciation of 'hobgoblin' vs. 'Green Goblin' because knowing how to pronounce both terms will give you the confidence to use them in conversation or when speaking in front of an audience.

So, here is a short pronunciation guide you can reference:

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'hobgoblin':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'Green Goblin':

grēn gäb-len

Sample Sentences Using 'Hobgoblin' vs. 'Green Goblin'

Finally, here are some sample sentences using these two terms. Read each of them to learn different ways that you can use these terms.


  • I swear, sometimes my son acts just like a little hobgoblin. It almost seems like he is annoying me on purpose.
  • The Hobgoblin is a character that first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man comic book in edition #238.
  • A hobgoblin is a mythical creature written about in tales of folklore and fairy tales during the 16th century.
  • I was recently watching the seventh season of Riverdale, and Cheryl, one of the main characters, tells someone not to be a hobgoblin.
  • A hobgoblin is a mythical creature similar to a werewolf or elf.

Green Goblin

  • Green Goblin's first alter ego was Norman Osborn, the father of Spider-Man's best friend Harry Osborn.
  • When Spider-Man learns the identity of Green Goblin, he keeps it from his best friend Harry.
  • After Green Goblin dies, Harry Osborn becomes the Green Goblin, which begs the question, is Harry a friend or foe?
  • After Harry Osborn becomes the Green Goblin, he attacks his friend Peter Parker wearing an altered version of the Green Goblin suit that was worn by his father.

Hobgoblin/Green Goblin

  • Hobgoblin is stronger than the Green Goblin, whose alter ego is Norman Osborn.
  • Many Marvel Comics fans would love to see the supervillains Green Goblin and Hobgoblin go head-to-head again.

Recap of the Difference Between 'Hobgoblin' vs. 'Green Goblin'

We covered a ton of information in this post, so here is a quick recap of the difference between 'Hobgoblin' vs. 'Green Goblin':

  • A 'hobgoblin' is a mythical creature that is a mischievous and annoying goblin. 
  • 'Hobgoblin' is a supervillain who appears in Marvel comic books dating back to the mid-1980s. 
  • 'Green Goblin' is a hobgoblin-like character that appears in Marvel comic books and movies, including The Amazing Spider-Man and the major motion films in the Spider-Man series. 

If you would like to learn about the spellings, definitions, pronunciations, and grammatical uses of other commonly misused English terms, check out the confusing words section here.

Each post contains valuable information that will help you learn grammar rules and expand your vocabulary. So, they are an excellent resource whether you are learning English as a second language or want to improve your writing and communication skills.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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