Imps were not a separate type of creature in Tolkien's world, but rather a smaller and relatively harmless being of any kind. The smallest, least powerful Orcs were referred to as 'Goblin-imps', but the Mouth of Sauron used the same word to refer to Hobbits. The word imp comes originally from an Old English term for a young plant shoot, and from that source developed to imply a young person or child (and only later a supernatural being). That original implication of youth or childishness may be seen in Tolkien's use of the word.
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