An imp is a mythological being similar to a fairy or demon, frequently described in folklore and superstition. The word derives from the term ympe, used to denote a young grafted tree.

Imps are usually described as mischievous more than seriously threatening, and as lesser beings rather than more important supernatural beings. The attendants of the devil are sometimes described as imps. They are usually described as lively and having small stature.


Some accounts of imps treat them as capable of being turned to good, because they are so desperately lonely they would do almost anything—even commit good deeds—to have a committed friend.

The Ancient Greek demigod Pan has some features in common with an imp, but this is unlikely to be a direct connection, since the imp concept probably belongs to Germanic rather than Hellenic tradition. However, imps are sometimes described as fond of music, and capable of being charmed into making a promise to aid, and "do good" in that manner through music—though there is always likely to be some mischievous trick to be attached to the barter.

Imps were the common name given to familiar spirits that served witches in the middle ages. Imps were usually kept inside artifacts such as gemstone pieces or vials and summoned for service by magics. An example of such an imp is one that was supposedly under the service of the alchemist Paracelsus.

See also - Genie Korol - of Melbourne, Australia.

In DC Comics

In the comic books of DC Comics, imps are extra-dimensional beings from the fifth dimension. Imps sometimes travel to the third dimension (the main DC universe) where they have power over the fabric of reality. Imps include Mr. Mxyzptlk, Bat-Mite, Qwsp, and Thunderbolt.

Video Games

Imps are one of the primary enemies faced in the Doom video games, in the earlier games they appeared as man sized biengs with brown skin, red eyes and small spikes that pretruded from certain points on their bodies. In the more recent encarnation of the Doom Games, Doom 3 and Doom 3 Resurrection Of Evil, the Imps are the most frequently encounterd antagonists, serving as the footsoldiers for Hell's invasion of the UAC's Mars bases, they are slightly taller than average Humans, have sharp claws and can leap incredible distances. They have faces akin to that of a Spider with several sets or small red eyes, Imps have the ability to create and throw balls of energy as a weapon and can also climb almost any surface, walls and cielings. They are encountered on every level and though fast and agile, they are easy to kill. Imp's like most of the Demons encountered in Doom 3, appear different in the Hell level. Imps are also in World of Warcraft, as a Warlock pet.

References in Popular Culture

  • In the later seasons of hit television show Dharma & Greg, Dharma frequently refers to Gregg as an "imp" (for some unknown reason, this is never explained by the producer, Chuck Lorre)

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