Other Names: Halflings, Holbytlan, Little People, Periannath
Meaning: 'Hole-builders', from the ancient Northern word, holbytlan
See The History of 'Hobbit' below
A mortal race almost certainly related to Men, though their origins are unknown. Their most distinguishing feature was their short stature; even the tallest Hobbits rarely exceeded four feet in height.
Originally a widespread people, hobbits were found in much of the north of Middle-earth and down the Vales of Anduin. As the Third Age passed, the Hobbits moved north and west, eventually founding the land of the Shire in III 1601. http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
"hobbit n. one of an imaginary race of half-sized persons in stories by Tolkien; hence ~RY (5) n. [invented by J.R.R. Tolkien, Engl. writer d. 1973, and said by him to mean 'hole-builder']"
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English creature_list