In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Hobbits are a diminutive race that inhabit the lands of Middle-earth. Known as "Halflings" to most and "Periannath" by the Elves, the word "Hobbit" is derived from the name "Holbytlan" which means "hole-dwellers" in the tongue of the Rohirrim (represented by Old English).
Hobbits first appeared in the book The Hobbit, in which the main protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, is a hobbit. The main protagonist of The Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins, is a hobbit, as are his friends and co-protagonists, Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck. Frodo was Bilbo's "first and second cousin once removed either way"; the two regarded each other as uncle and nephew. Hobbits are also briefly mentioned in The Silmarillion.
According to the author, Hobbits are a "variety" or separate "branch" of the race of Men, but they consider themselves a separate race. At the time of the events in The Lord of the Rings, they lived in the Shire and in Bree in the north west of Middle-earth.