Rumpelstiltskin is the title character of a fairy tale (called Rumpelstilzchen in the original German) collected by the Grimm Brothers and first included in the 1857 edition of Household Tales.

In the tale, in order to make himself important, a miller lied to the king that his daughter could spin straw into gold. The king called for the girl, shut her in a tower room with straw and a spinning-wheel, and bade her spin the straw into gold by morning, or die. She had given up all hope, when a "mannikin" appeared in the room and spun straw into gold for her, in return for her necklace, then the following night for her ring, but on the third night, with nothing left, the strange creature spun straw into gold for a promise that the girl's first-born child would become his. The greedy king was so impressed that he married the miller's beautiful daughter, but when their first child was born, the dwarf returned to claim his payment: "Now give me what you promised". The mannikin was not a troll, for he said "something that is living is dearer to me than all the treasures in the world" and he was moved to pity. The girl begged the dwarf to let her keep the child, and he agreed, now on the condition that she guess his name. At first she failed, but before the fateful third day, her messenger overheard the dwarf hopping about his fire and singing

"To-day I bake, to-morrow brew,
The next I'll have the young Queen's child.
Ha! glad am I that no one knew
That Rumpelstiltskin I am styled."

The dwarf lost his bargain, stamped his foot deep into the ground and tore himself apart in his rage.

Rumpelstiltskin is known by a variety of names in a number of other languages:

  • Dutch: Repelsteeltje
  • French: Grigrigredinmenufretin
  • English: Tom Tit Tot (from English Fairy Tales, collected & edited by Joseph Jacobs, 1884)
  • Spanish: El enano saltarn (the jumping midget).
  • Hebrew: עוץ לי גוץ לי (utz li gutz li)

The name is believed to derive from an old children's game called Rumpele stilt oder der Poppart, which was mentioned in Johann Fischart's Geschichtklitterung, or Gargantua of 1577, a loose adaptation of Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel.

The story of Rumpelstiltskin is an example of Aarne and Thompson's folklore type 310, The Maiden in the Tower (see links below). Other fairy tale themes in the story include the Impossible Task, the Hard Bargain, the Changeling Child, and above all, the Secret Name.

See also

External links

  • "Rumpelstiltskin" ( translated by Margaret Hunt, 1884 e-text
  • "Rumpelstiltskin" (
    • D.L. Ashliman's Brothers Grimm website ( The classification is based on Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson, The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography, (Helsinki, 1961).
  • Name Magic (

de:Rumpelstilzchen es:Rumpelstiltskin ja:ルンペルシュティルツヒェン nl:Repelsteeltje


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