A hobgoblin is something you fear or dread. Public speaking is a hobgoblin for many people. So are spiders, the dark, and monsters that lurk under the bed.
A hobgoblin is so scary it’s the name of a Spider-Man villain. The word has been around since the 1500s, though, and can refer to all kinds of things that scare you. It’s in this quote by the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Anything that worries or disturbs you is a hobgoblin, which can also be called a bugbear.