- "Orc is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places [in The Hobbit] but is usually translated goblin (or hobgoblin for the larger kinds)"
- —J.R.R. Tolkien, Preface to The Hobbit
Hobgoblins were stronger, larger, and more menacing than other orcs. They are mentioned only once, by Gandalf, in The Hobbit. He desdribed them as one of the many kinds of orcs inhabiting the Wilderland. They are likely descended from Black Uruks who fled to the Wilderland after Sauron's defeat and interbred with Goblins (another variation of Orc inhabiting the Wilderland). This is likely because the Black Uruks are crossbreeds of Orcs and Goblin Men, and are thusly related to Goblins. If this is the case, Hobgoblins are disantly related to Men and Uruk-hai. The Hobgoblins probably fought with the Goblins in the Battle of Five Armies.
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in a 1971 letter that in folklore hobgoblins were actually particularly small goblins of the traditional (not the Tolkien) kind, which is opposite of the case with the "goblins" (orcs) of The Hobbit.