Tonight on iCarly, the character Wade Collins called David Archuleta a “Hob Knocker.” Like David, I did not know what a Hob Knocker was, so I did a little research. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be; there isn’t much info out there on Hob Knockers, lol.
Were the iCarly producers giving us a hint when Miranda and Jennette donned their “troll” hats? Hmmm…
Anyway…Here’s the connection I made: The J.R.R Tolkien Encyclopedia says:
According to the brief article found in the Denham Tracts [ed. James Hardy, London: Folklore Society, 1895] titled, “Ghosts Never Appear on Christmas Eve”: “every lone tenement, castle, or mansion-house, which could boast of any antiquity, had its bogle, its specter, or its knocker.” The article lists 200 such specter including a creature called a hobbit. Also included in Denhem’s list are several more names with the prefix hob-, including hobgoblins, hobhoulards, hobby-lanthorns, hob-thrushes, and hob-headlesses.
Note: Michael Aislabie Denham was an early folklorist who concentrated on Northumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, Cumberland, the Isle of Man, and Scotland.
According to The Online Etymology Dictionary, the prefix hob means “clown, prankster,” short for hobgoblin (q.v.). Hence, to play the hob “make mischief” (1838). [The Welsh appellation is coblyn, properly a knocker. From A Dictionary of English Etymology by Hensleigh Wedgwood, pg. 310]
The website www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk says this about “knockers“:
In many old established mining areas throughout the world, there was a long tradition of mine spirits, in Cornwall these were known as the Knockers. They frequented the tin mines that formed much of local economy in 18th and 19th century Cornwall. Knockers was not the only name given to mine spirits others being Knackers, Buccas, and Spriggans to name a few. As well as the mines, the Knockers were thought to haunt some wells and other natural features, which along with the other names for them, suggests a wider use of the term to describe supernatural creatures.
According to descriptions, the Knockers took the form of small thin-limbed entities with large hooked noses.
I’m assuming the word Hob Knocker is a informal colloquialism or slang term which could mean something entirely different than a “mischievous goblin,” but what, I still have no idea. Anyone?
Editor’s Note: At the time this episode of iCarly aired and this article was written, there were NO ONLINE DEFINITIONS for the word Hob Knocker. Several notorious websites made up their own “urban” definitions after the fact.