A large number of characters appear in the Moomin series by Tove Jansson. The original Swedish names are given with the etymologies and word associations suggested by Yvonne Bertills in her 2003 dissertation.
(Swedish: Alisa, Finnish: Aliisa) – Alice, the Witch's granddaughter, likes the Moomins and plays with them on the sly whenever the Witch is otherwise occupied. She is a witch-in-training herself, and develops several magic skills during the series, most notable walking on water, underwater breathing, and running at lightning speed. Like the Witch, she first appeared in the 1990 animated series and does not appear in the original stories or comic strips.
(Swedish: Förfadern) – the Moomintrolls descend from ancient creatures living in tiled stoves. One of those is still dwelling in the Moomin family's bathing house cupboard and stove. He is called the Ancestor and makes appearances in Moominland Midwinter and Moominvalley in November.
Billy The KidEdit
Billy The Kid appears only in the 1990 edition, in Episode 17 of Season 2. He lives in "Cowboy Country". He is based on the real outlaw with the same name.
(Swedish: Kungen/Självhärskaren, Finnish: Itsevaltias) – the Autocrat in "Exploits". He owns a fairground full of surprises, sits on a throne and gives a blast on his foghorn when he makes royal proclamations.
The Dweller Under the SinkEdit
(Swedish: den som bor under diskbänken) – a small furry creature that lives under the sink in Moomin House. He only appears in Moominland Midwinter and becomes known to Moomintroll when he wakes up during the long winter hibernation undertaken by the whole Moominfamily. Moomintroll tries to strike up a conversation with him by complimenting on his rather bushy eyebrows, but only succeeds in upsetting him.
Edward the BoobleEdit
(Swedish: dronten Edward – dronten, "dodo", Finnish: drontti Edvard) – a gigantic monster (the second largest creature in the world – only his brother is larger) who pays for people's funerals if he accidentally treads on them. He is generally bad tempered because of this. He accidentally aids the launch of the Oshun Oxtra (Ocean Orchestra), a boat invented by Moominpappa's childhood friend, Hodgkins, by sitting in a river bed.
(Swedish) – the rather bitter stage rat (teaterråtta). She helps the Moomin family understand what a theater is and also collaborates with Moominpappa on his play, The Lion's Brides. Before she introduces herself, the family refers to her as Theprop (the prop) after a misunderstanding.
(Swedish: Filifjonkan – no semantic meaning, but with the first element compare filibuffare "joker", filidera, "make bad noise", and with the second, fjompa/fjanta/fjolla + -an = "silly/foolish/fussy woman") – known as The Fillyjonk in some English translations, the first we hear of is the late theatre director in Moominsummer Madness (the Rat is his widow) and the young Fillyjonk who joins the Snork Maiden in the late night jaunt to the wishing well. Later we meet the wonderful psychological study of the "Fillyjonk Who Believed In Disasters" in Tales from Moominvalley. Not a single moment of fantasy or joy, only duties and discipline; she is an extremely methodical person tied down with principles and has a deep rooted belief in prestige and tradition. Nevertheless, after a catastrophe, The Fillyjonk can be freed from the trammels of social expectation and can discover the joys of freedom, irrationality and self-expression. Deep inside she has had a wish to live freely as the Moomin family does, without any worries. Fillyjonks resemble humanoid rodents; they are tall and thin, with long muzzles and raccoon-like rings around their eyes.
(Swedish: Sås-djuret – såsa, "to linger; to loiter" + djur, "animal") – Sniff's mother. Married to Muddler.
(Swedish: Gafsan – gafsa, "chatter; tittle-tattle", Finnish: Louska) – not much is known about Gaffsie, except that she is a friend of Fillyjonk. She appears in Tales from Moominvalley in the stories "The Fillyjonk who Believed in Disasters" and "The Fir Tree". She is also mentioned in Moominvalley in November.
(Swedish: Onkelskruttet – onkel, "uncle," also used in the meaning "grandfather"; for the second element, see under Miffle, Finnish: Ruttuvaari) – an old man who appears in Moominvalley in November. He is quite old and somewhat senile. He uses a cane and owns many pairs of glasses that he carries with him in a basket.
(Swedish: Mårran – morra "to growl; to grumble") – cold and ghostlike, she represents loneliness and all that is scary in the world of Moomin.
(Swedish: hattifnattar – with the first element compare hatta, "dither"; the second element is related to fnatta (omkring), "flutter around"; få fnatt, "go crazy or get excited over something"; poss. fnatt, "squirrel") – small white ghost-like creatures that resemble worn socks. Hattifatteners are always on the move and travel the sea in large groups (but always in odd numbers), such as boat convoys. They meet every year on a lonely island. Their only goal in life is to reach the horizon. They may communicate using telepathy. The Hattifatteners cannot see very well, but their sense of touch is very strong, and they can feel ground vibrations and electricity. Hattifatteners assemble once a year when they "recharge" in a thunderstorm, when they can cause electrical burns. Hattifatteners grow from seeds, but only if this seed is sown on Midsummer Eve.
(Swedish: Hemul – hemul, a legal term, "authority or warrant for something (n.), entitled (adj.)") (In Swedish "Hemulen" means "the hemul") – Hemulens feature frequently in the books. One of them is an avid stamp collector, and another is an avid skier. A female Hemulen raised Moominpappa in an orphanage, and later Moominpappa met her aunt, who looked confusingly like her. Other characters frequently find the Hemulens annoying or overwhelming, as they can be somewhat loud, bossy, abrasive and insensitive, but they are well-intentioned and usually have other redeeming qualities. In the beginning of Finn Family Moomintroll, a hemulen who is a keen stamp collector is depressed, as he has every stamp on the face of earth and has lost his purpose in life. Later on, he finds a new purpose: to collect plants. In Finn Family Moomintroll, "un-Hemulenish" (ohemul) contains a sense of "unwarranted, unjustified".
(Swedish: Trollkarlen – "The Magician") – appearing in Finn Family Moomintroll (Swedish: Trollkarlens hatt), he is a powerful magician who travels the Universe with his flying panther, looking for the King's Ruby. His top hat is found in the Lonely Mountains by Moomintroll, Snufkin and Sniff, who take it back to Moominhouse. Chaos ensues, as anything you put inside the hat is transformed. Moomintroll himself is changed into a strange creature by the hat when he uses it to hide in during a game. The hat also changes the Moominhouse into a sort of jungle. The Hobgoblin has a quite intimidating appearance, but is friendly.
(Swedish: Fredriksson - a common family name) – an inventor and childhood friend of Moominpappa (The Exploits of Moominpappa). He is Muddler's uncle and thus Sniff's great-uncle. He builds the Oshun Oxtra (misspelling of Ocean Orchestra in English, known as Haffsårkestern in Swedish), a boat in which Moominpappa and his friends travel on their adventures.
The Island GhostEdit
(Swedish: Spöket) – a spectre that haunts the Island colonised by Moominpappa in " The Exploits of Moominpappa". He isn't very good at haunting and gets annoyed when the colonists laugh at him. He takes up knitting to soothe his nerves.
The Joxter is Moominpapa's old friend and father of Snufkin. He is described as worry free, cat like and so lazy that he described his perfect life as: “sitting in a fruit tree, eating fruit as it grows.” He appears beige in colour and has water-clear eyes. He has forebodings throughout the book telling his friends of danger. Joxter also shares his son’s dislike of authority figures stating that their family was at war with a park keeper in “The Exploits of Moominpapa”.Joxter is the lover of The Mymble (elder). Finnish: Juksu Swedish: Joxaren
The Lady of the ColdEdit
(Swedish: Isfrun, Finnish: Jäärouva) – a very creepy, beautiful lady who brings winter to Moominvalley. Looking into her eyes will turn you into a block of ice. She is the only character that the Groke is genuinely afraid of.
(Swedish: Skruttet – also as a common noun, det lilla knyttet/skruttet, "the little creep"; skrutt, a noun with "various meanings, although with one common feature, that is something small or something weak, rubbish (skräp, "garbage"), trash or core, which in turn also suggests something quite insignificant and worthless, about to be thrown away. When referring to persons, it is slightly depreciatory, used especially for inferior, sick, incompetent or weak persons (the noun often denotes older persons: skröplig gubbe, "weak old man"). But the noun is also used for small beings with supernatural characteristics, particularly in fairy tales.) – Toffle's love-object in Who Will Comfort Toffle?
Little My (Swedish: Lilla My – my, "micron, mu") is a small, determined and fiercely independent Mymble. When she wants something done, she does it straight away. She is very aggressive and totally disrespectful, but can be a good friend. She is Snufkin's half-sister.
(Swedish: Misan – misär, "misery"; miserabel, "miserable") – a very depressed and paranoid female character. In comics and picture books, she is usually the Moomin family's domestic help. Misabel has her only novel appearance in Moominsummer Madness, in which she is not a domestic help, but shows up to be a good actress. She is sometimes the owner of Sorry-oo. It has been said that Misabel's initial reaction to anyone talking to her is fear of them complaining about the quality of her work.
Moominmamma (Swedish: Muminmamman ) – the mother of Moomintroll. She is very nurturing and calm. She is almost never without her handbag, which contains essentials like woolly socks, tummy powder, and bark. She makes bark boats every summer, and the first one goes to her favorite.
Moomin is very close with Snorkmaiden. They have a very sweet and romantic relationship in the early books. However, later on he and Snorkmaiden are not seen together as often and after ‘Moominland Midwinter’ Moomin refers to Snorkmaiden as a friend. How their relationship is portrayed varies between adaptations. For example, the 1990 animated series shows him consistently, if shyly, returning her affections.
His best friend is Snufkin. Snufkin is inspired by Atos Wirtanen, Tove Jansson’s close friend and at one point, fiancé. Moomintroll is also an author avatar for Jansson, meaning the two characters were based on real-life lovers. Because of this real-life parallel, their relationship is sometimes examined in the context of queer theory.
Moominpappa (Swedish: Muminpappan) – orphaned in his younger years, he is a somewhat restless soul who left the orphanage to venture out into the world in his youth, but has now settled down. His eagerness to try new things often sets a story in motion. He usually wears a black top-hat.
(Swedish: Rådd-djuret – rådda "to fuss or muddle or mess about" + djur, "animal") – The nephew of Hodgkins and Sniff's father. A rather untidy and confused individual who collects buttons of all sorts and lives in the coffee tin where he keeps the buttons. Married to Fuzzy.
(Swedish: Bisamråttan) – a philosopher who believes in the pointlessness of things and reads Spengler, appears in Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll. The Moomin children annoy him by putting hairbrushes in his bed and such like. He eventually takes to living in the cave Sniff discovers in order to get some peace. There is an unfortunate accident, however: in Finn Family Moomintroll, Moomintroll has hidden the Hobgoblin's hat there; anything you put in the Hobgoblin's hat becomes transformed, and the Muskrat gets a nasty shock when he puts his false teeth in it to keep the sand out of them.He enjoys reading a book entitled "the uselessness of everything" which is later changed by the Hobgoblin to "the usefulness of everything".
(Swedish: Mymlan – mymla, a slang word used in Tove Jansson's circle, with the meaning "to love"; compare mumla, "to mumble";) – "the Mymble" is a description given to two different characters. In The Exploits of Moominpappa there is a matriarchal character known as "the Mymble". She is the mother of a very large and unspecified number of children, including Little My, Snufkin, and a girl referred to simply as "the Mymble's Daughter" (Swedish: Mymlans dotter), who appears to be the eldest of the Mymble's children, and helps her mother with child care for her younger brothers and sisters. In later books and in the comic strips the Mymble's Daughter comes to be known as just "the Mymble". She appears again as a relatively minor character in Moominsummer Madness, Moominland Midwinter and the comic strips, and is a significant character in Moominvalley in November and in The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My.
(Swedish: klippdassar – "rock hyraxes"; compare dassa, "patter or sneak around, walk quietly; (in some areas) hurry up when working; (in child language and rhymes) dance"; also called by the variant name klibbtassar, explained as klibba/klibbig, "to stick/sticky" + tass, "paw") – small aquatic creatures, which chew off people's noses if they are too long for their taste. They enjoy doing the multiplication contests devised by the rather bossy Hemulen's Aunt.
(Swedish – a real female first name, mostly used as a nickname, e.g. for Anna) – Ninny first appears in Tales From Moomin Valley in the story "The Invisible Child". She turned invisible by being frightened too much by her former caretaker. This caretaker gave Ninny to Too-ticky, who then brought her to Moominmama to help make Ninny visible again. Moominmamma succeeds with one of her granny's 'Infallible Household Remedies' and lots of love. Ninny at first is a bore and doesn't know how to play games or have fun. She becomes completely visible during a day on the beach. Moominpappa plans on sneaking up and scaring Moominmamma, but Ninny rushes up behind and shoves Moominpappa into the sea. In the end, the family realizes Ninny is very similar to Little My.
The Park KeeperEdit
(Swedish: parkvakten) – a Hemulen in charge of a park where the vegetation is trimmed and cut into proper lines and shapes. The park goes by very strict rules, mostly forbidding things, which are written out in big letters on several signs placed around the park. Of all the people in the world, the Park Keeper is the only one Snufkin really dislikes. Snufkin plants Hattifattener seeds in the grounds of the park to drive the Keeper away and then burns all the signs forbidding things.
The Police InspectorEdit
(Swedish: Polismästaren) – a by-the-book Hemulen in charge of law enforcement in the valley. He has a crush on Mymble.
(Swedish: Sniff – sniffa, "to snuff/sob; to sniff") – Moomintroll's immature friend. He is one of the few characters who is interested in money, and is always on the lookout for another way to get rich quick.
(Swedish: Snorken) – the Snork Maiden's older brother, also friends with Moomintroll. He and his sister first meet Moomintroll in Comet in Moominland. After that he appears only in Finn Family Moomintroll. He is described as mauve in colour, though changes to a pale green when frightened. His character is obsessive over details, rules, and protocol in the books. In the Japanese TV series, he is described as an avid inventor who has strong belief in the power of science and an obsession with building a flying vehicle.
(Swedish: Snorkfröken – snorkig, "snooty, snotty"; fröken, "Miss") – Moomintroll's fair lady friend and admirer. She does fall in love with others sometimes, but returns to Moomintroll before things get too serious. She has blonde hair and sports a golden anklet. She changes color according to her mood, with her baseline color in the books described as pale yellow. Snorks are almost identical to Moomins except that Snorks come in different colors (Moomins are white), have hair on their heads, and their fur changes color depending on their mood. Snorkmaiden is known as Floren in the Japanese dub of the 1990s animated series.
(Swedish: Snusmumriken – dialectical snusmumrik or mumrik, "old man who talks carelessly; old codger, old bore; old snuff-taker; snotty or scruffy old man," derived from snus, "snuff," + interjection mum, also in mumla "mumble," with pejorative ending -ik) – Moomintroll's best friend, the son of the elder Mymble and the Joxter, and half-brother to the Mymble's daughter and Little My. Snufkin wears old green clothes and a wide-brimmed hat that he has had since birth. He lives in a tent, smokes a pipe, and plays the harmonica. He is based on Tove Jansson's ex-fiancé Atos Wirtanen who was also known to wander.
(Swedish: Ynk – ynklig, "poor; miserable"; ynka sig, "moan (v.)"; or ynka, "insignificant") – a small dog appearing in various relations – however, he is always melancholy and longing. He has his only novel appearance in Moominland Midwinter, in which he is constantly howling after his distant cousins the wolves. In The Dangerous Journey, he is called "Sorry-oo Le Miserable" (Ynk von Jämmerlund: jämra sig, "to moan"; jämmer, "moaning," as in jämmerdal, "vale of tears"; playing on family names in Finland with von, which indicates a foreign name, and -lund).
(Stinky: from English) – a criminal by profession, trickster, and a dangerous influence who tempts the Moomin family to do things that are against the law. He has a code of conduct of his own, and is offended when the Moomins want to give him a large sum of money which has been causing them much trouble. Physically, Stinky looks like some sort of furry mammal, whose most characteristic attribute is his constant, unbearable stench. He appears in one book (Villain in the Moominhouse) but mainly in comics and cartoons.
Thingumy and BobEdit
(Swedish: Tofslan och Vifslan – tofs, "tuft"; dialectical vivsa, "tuft," cf. vifta, "wave"; compare the names of Tove Jansson and Vivica Bandler) – two little creatures who turn up in Moominvalley with a large suitcase, which contains the King's Ruby. They speak a strange language (with "-slan" appended to the ends of some words in the Swedish original, which became spoonerisms, e.g. :"'Man you cake it out?' asked Thingumy. 'Mot nutch,' said Bob", in the English translation) and are pursued by the Groke who wants the contents. They upset Moominmamma by stealing her handbag. They eventually return it and the whole family throws a party to celebrate. The Hobgoblin arrives when Thingumy and Bob open the suitcase, exposing the King's Ruby for all to see. They didn't give him the ruby, but when the Hobgoblin gave everyone there a wish, then they wished for the Hobgoblin to have a ruby as beautiful as theirs; the Queen's Ruby.
(Swedish: Knytt – as a common noun also translated "creep", e.g. småknytt "little creatures/creeps", etymologically related to "oknytt" which by convention are to knytt what unseelie are to seelie; knytte, "bundle; (fig.) term of endearment for infants, 'little mite'; (in some dial.) short and/or plump woman"; knytt, dialectical noun from knyst, "the slightest sound") – Toffles are small creatures, shy, scared and confused. A toffle called Salome is featured in Moominland Midwinter and a toffle only named as "Toffle" is the main character in Who Will Comfort Toffle?.
(Swedish: (homsan) Toft – for homsan see "Whomper"; Toft is perhaps imaginary, though homonymic with toft, "thwart (n.), rowlock", Finnish: Homssu) – a small, very shy boy who appears in Moominvalley in November. Toft makes up one of the people visiting the Moomins while they are absent. He is very mysterious and seems to have the power to make things he imagines come true. He is also able to use Moominpapa's crystal ball. In the original book, Toft is a whomper, but the English translator translated his character into a "boy".
(Swedish: Too-ticki) – a friend of the family, craftsman and practical philosopher. Has her first appearance in the novel Moominland Midwinter and returns in the short stories of Tales from Moominvalley and in comics. The character and the name are modelled after Tuulikki Pietilä, Tove Jansson's life partner.
(Swedish: Homsan – in the plural Whompses in Who Will Comfort Toffle?; homsa or håmsa, "rush, hurry, bustle, or muddle about (v.); do something carelessly (for example work), usually with bad results (v.); untidy or careless female (n.)") – an earnest little chap. He joins the Moomin family on the floating theater in Moominsummer Madness.
(Swedish: Häxan, Finnish: Noita, Japanese: Clarissa (クラリッサ)) – The Witch looks quite scary and has some powerful magic in her possession, but is a harmless old lady despite her strong dislike of the Moomins. She would prefer Alicia not to play with them and pay more attention to her studies, but does warm up for them later on. The Witch first appeared in the 1990 animated series and does not appear in the original stories or comic strips.
- Yvonne Bertills, Beyond Identification: Proper Names in Children's Literature, 2003, dissertation for Åbo Akademi University
- Reuben Sanchez (January 2002), ""We've decided to wake a mish for you": Gift Exchange and Didacticism in Tove Jansson's Finn Family Moomintroll", The Lion and the Unicorn, 26 (1): 50–65, doi:10.1353/uni.2002.0009, S2CID 144997435
- "The Guardian view on Moomintroll: a hero for our time". The Guardian. 16 December 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
- "Big in Japan, but could America love Moomin?". Reuters. 2009-10-06. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2011-10-01.
- "A guide to the Moomin characters". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
- "Moomintroll". Moomin. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
- "Snufkin". Moomin. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
- "Who inspired Tove when creating Snufkin?". Moomin. 2015-08-04. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
- "The secret message in Mymble's name – queer themes in Tove Jansson's life and work part 2". Moomin. 2019-06-25. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
- Karjalainen, Tuula (2014). Tove Jansson. Work and Love. Penguin UK. ISBN 9781846148491.
- Norrman, Ralf; Haarberg, Jon (1 June 1980). Nature and language: a semiotic study of cucurbits in literature. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 9780710004536. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via Internet Archive.
- "Books from Finland". Publishers' Association of Finland. 1 January 1991. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via Google Books.
- "JPL Small-Body Database Browser". ssd.jpl.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
- Bertills 2003, p. 126
- Bertills 2003, p. 132
- The Moomin Trove: The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My
- "Snorkmaiden". Moomin. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
- Anne Laitinen: Muumit ensimmäisenä lehtenä julkaissut Ny Tid palkittiin (Turun Sanomat 7.11.2006)
- Berthoud, Ella; Elderkin, Susan (5 September 2013). The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies. Canongate Books. ISBN 9780857864260. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via Google Books.
- AbdelRahim, Layla (5 December 2014). Children's Literature, Domestication, and Social Foundation: Narratives of Civilization and Wilderness. Routledge. ISBN 9781135104603. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via Google Books.
- Jones, W. Glyn (1 January 1984). Tove Jansson. Twayne Publishers. ISBN 9780805765632. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via Google Books.
- Lurie, Alison (11 January 2011). Boys And Girls Forever. Random House. ISBN 9781446434475. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via Google Books.