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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"one not fully grown," 1794, from half + -ling.


n. 1 (context fantasy English) A fictional small humanoid creature featuring in fantasy fiction; a hobbit. 2 (context fantasy English) A fictional humanoid born of a human parent and a parent of another race in fantasy fiction.


Halfling is another name for J. R. R. Tolkien's Hobbit, a fictional race found in some fantasy novels and games. They are often depicted as similar to humans except about half as tall. Dungeons & Dragons began using the name halfling as an alternative to hobbit for legal reasons.

Originally, "halfling" comes from the Scots word hauflin, meaning an awkward rustic teenager, who is neither man nor boy, and so half of both. Another word for halfling is "hobbledehoy" or "hobby". This usage of the word pre-dates both The Hobbit and Dungeons & Dragons.

Some fantasy stories use the term halfling to describe a person born of a human parent and a parent of another race, often a human female and a male elf. Terry Brooks describes characters such as Shea Ohmsford from his Shannara series as a halfling of elf–human parentage. This kind of character is elsewhere called a half-elf and is distinct from the fantasy race known as halflings. In Jack Vance's Lyonesse series of novels, "halfling" is a generic term for beings such as fairies, trolls and ogres, who are composed of both magical and earthly substances.

Halfling (Dungeons & Dragons)

The halfling is a fictional race (with many subraces) found in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Halflings are similar to humans, but about half their size. The original Dungeons & Dragons included hobbits, but later the game began using the name "halfling" as an alternative to " hobbit" for legal reasons.

Usage examples of "halfling".

Pavek believed the druids would refuse to trade at the customhouse once they knew about Rokka, Escrissar, and the halfling.

The halfling leaped above a sidelong cut and struck as he landed, again with perfect balance, his rapier tip poking a cyclopian in the eye.

Growing up in a Kaohsiung family in Hong Kong, she had met her share of demons and halflings.

I last scried Champion, you and he and a halfling traveled on the back of a red lair-beastwhat you call a dragon, I believebut I have been unable to locate Champion magically for over a year now.

Equipped with a fourteen- to sixteen-foot wingspread, sharp talons, and fangs like a snake, fisherhawks were known to raid seabound vessels of small children, women, halflings, and the occasional dwarf as well as the fish it stripped from the sea.

The halfling who had admitted them to the house skittered to a halt at the mouth of a sidehall, brown eyes wide with terror.

As a ranger, Montolio had dedicated his life to the unending struggle between the good raceshumans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, and halflings being the most prominent membersand the evil goblinoids and giantkind, who lived only to destroy as a bane to the innocent.

Finally the ogres grew bored and moved on, but the halfling remained still for several minutes.

Although the halfling boldly stepped over the outstretched leg of one of the ogres, the men could not bring themselves to test the limits of their good fortune further.

The ogres still sat, bemused, as the halfling trotted into the entry hall adjacent to the great hall.

Up to now, though, he had always considered that innate ability to mentally connect with wild animals the exclusive domain of those surface elves, sprites, halflings, gnomes, and humans who had trained in the woodland way.

To his astonishment, Rohan possessed an alevafaint but noticeable, attesting to his halfling Sunrunner gift.

 My  sickly  wife-of  whom  I'm  sure  you've  heard-is  busily trying every medicine that can be suggested by man or halfling,  searching  for  a  cure  for.

They mounted the crest of the hill, toward an enemy that fled their path in disorder, peasants and lords together, entering into that great circle that was the Well of Abarais, where opal lights surged and drifted among the Stones, where a vast blue space yawned bottomlessly before them, drinking in men and halfling riders, seeming at once to hurtle skyward and downward, out of place in the world that beheld it, a burning blue too terrible against Shiuan's graying skies.

Entreri had chased Regis for many years, had caught him twice, and neither time had been a pleasant experience for the halfling.