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Name Origins of Rumpelstiltskin

The name Rumpelstilzchen in German means literally "little rattle stilt". (A stilt is a post or pole which provides support for a structure.) A rumpelstilt or rumpelstilz was the name of a type of goblin, also called a pophart or poppart that makes noises by rattling posts and rapping on planks. The meaning is similar to rumpelgeist ("rattle ghost") or poltergeist, a mischievous spirit that clatters and moves household objects.

Translations of the original Grimm fairy tale into various languages have generally substituted different names for the dwarf, whose name is Rumpelstilzchen in the original. For some languages, a name was chosen that comes close in sound to the German name: Rumpelstiltskin in English, Repelsteeltje in Dutch, Rumpelstichen in Portuguese.