The Origin of the Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats gruff is a Norwegian folktale, and probably the most famous Norwegian folktale in the English language.  It’s a classic tale of three billy goats crossing a bridge and outsmarting a hungry troll.

Who Wrote The Three Billy Goats Gruff?

The Three Billy Goats Gruff was originally published as part of a collection in a book called Norwegian Folk Tales by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe in 1842.

If you’re interested in reading more Norwegian Folktales I recommend buying the book Norwegian Folktales on Amazon (it’s in English, not Norwegian).

When Was the Three Billy Goats Gruff First Translated Into English?

The Three Billy Goats Gruff was first translated into English in 1859 in the book Popular Tales from the Norse which you can read for free here.

What is a “Billy” Goat, Exactly?

Billy goats are boy goats.  In the story of the three billy goats are generally described as being brothers.

Why are the Billy Goats Called “Gruff”?

In this case, gruff is not an adjective describing the goats.  “Gruff” is the surname (or last name) of the goats.

It is used in much the same way as when referring to to “The Brothers Grimm”, or how you might say today “the three Jones boys”.

Summary of the Three Billy Goats Gruff

Essentially, there are three brother goats with the last name Gruff.  They have eaten most of the grass on their side of the river, and noticed that the grass on the other side of the River is lush and green.  The smallest goat starts to cross the bridge when it is stopped by a Troll who plans to eat the billy goat.

The smallest billy goat tells him that he should wait for his bigger brother who is much fatter and tastier.  Reluctantly, the Troll agrees and decides to wait for the next goat.  The middle sized goat then crosses the bridge and does likewise.

The Troll decides to wait for the largest goat but when he does, that goat is too strong and large and ends up ramming the troll off the bridge and into the water.

You can also read a very amusing summary of the Three Billy Goats at

Where Can I Read the Three Billy Goats Gruff?

Story Reservoir has the full story of the Billy Goats Gruff, which you can read for free.

Where can I find Clipart for The Three Billy Goats Gruff?

Clipart for the Billy Goats Gruff can be found here »

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