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2 Alternative meanings
A troll is a fictitious humanoid monster of Scandinavian folklore, as in "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," the well-known Scandinavian folk tale in which a troll living under a bridge torments some billy goats that want to cross. Grendel in the poem Beowulf is a closely similar creature. Trolls were popularized outside of Scandinavia by Tolkien.
According to a 1908 Cyclopedia: "Trolls are Dwarfs of Northern mythology, living in hills or mounds; they are represented as stumpy, misshapen, and humpbacked, inclined to thieving, and fond of carrying off children or substituting one of their own offspring for that of a human mother. They are called hill-people, and are especially averse to noise, from a recollection of the time when Thor used to fling his hammer at them." The hammer, Mjolnir, was forged by trolls.
Trolls are one of the most frequent creatures of Scandinavian fairy tales and more common than elves, dwarves, witches and giants. They hoard gold. They come in any size and can be as huge as giants or as small as dwarves. They are however always regarded as having poor intellect (especially the males), big noses, long arms, and as being hairy and not very beautiful (except for certain females). In Scandinavian fairy tales trolls generally turn to stone if exposed to sunlight. They live in the forest and in mountains and sometimes kidnap children that have to live with them. Occasionally they even steal a new-born baby leaving their own offspring, a changeling, in return (an ancient explanation for children born with Down's syndrome). Young Swedish children frequently believe in trolls, and a way to teach children to brush their teeth is to tell them to get rid of the very small "tooth trolls" that otherwise will make holes in their teeth.
In J. R. R. Tolkien's world of Middle-earth, trolls are very large (around 9 feet tall) humanoids of poor intellect. They turn to stone when exposed to sunlight and they enjoy eating hobbits and dwarves. In The Lord of the Rings, a new breed appears, called the Olog-Hai. Unlike the old trolls, they are capable of speech and movement under sunlight. It is unknown how Sauron the Enemy managed to breed them - though it is stated by an Ent that Trolls were "made in mockery of" Ents, similarly to the way that Orcs were bred from captured and tormented Elves. It is not known how serious this hint is intended to be, as Tolkien did not discuss in detail the ways in which "good" beings could be corrupted to evil.
In the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, Trolls are large creatures who are composed of rock. They have a tendency towards violence, and their intelligence is inversely proportional to their temperature, making them quite unintelligent in warm climates.
In the Dungeons & Dragons Role-playing game trolls are tall and skinny monsters with large, pointy noses and green skin. In D&D, trolls steadily regenerate all damage unless it is caused by acid or fire. (This version of troll originated with the Poul Anderson story Three Hearts and Three Lions.)
In the Earthdawn role-playing game, trolls are a tall, muscular and honorable race which players can role-play. Earthdawn trolls have curling horns like goats, lots of body hair and enlarged lower canines.
In Harry Potter, trolls are giant monsters that kill everyone they encounter. In Harry Potter and the Philosepher's Stone Harry and Ron save Hermione from a full-grown mountain troll. There are a few other subsequent mentions of trolls; for example it was rumored that Harry's Firebolt, which Dolores Umbridge "confiscated" was guraded by troll. In the film, the troll was animated with computer-generated imagery.
Troll Gas Platform
A gas platform; one of the greatest engineering projects in history. Built by Norske Shell, the platform was a TV sensation when it was towed into the North Sea in 1996. There it was handed over to Statoil. It reaches the sea floor, 303 metres below the surface of the Norwegian Sea. Gas rises from 40 wells, and is exported through a number of pipes.
The Jargon File supports the position that the term Internet troll comes from the second meaning (to "fish" for gullible responses) rather than the first (to act like a generally vile and troublesome creature). However, as per the D&D Monster Manual, it does appear that the most loathsome Internet trolls do in fact regenerate, and reappear again and again under an ever-increasing proliferation of aliases and IP numbers. Thus both meanings may be equally valid.
In Middle English the word troll (derived from French trou 'hole') was used with the meaning 'hole', especially to designate wounds by sword or knife, comparable to 'touché' (literally 'touched') to say 'you are pierced'; with this meaning it was used in many translations of ancient texts into English, still available; later this term was derogatively applied to those women who followed soldiers with the purpose of prostitution; these meanings are now obsolete.