A golem, in medieval folklore, is an animated being made from clay or stone. It is derived from Hebrew mythology and is said to contain a scroll with magic or religious words that keep it animated. Its existence was a mixed blessing. Although not overly intelligent, a golem could be made to perform simple tasks over and over forever. The problem was getting him to stop. The most famous tale involves the golem created by the 16th century rabbi Judah Low ben Bezulel of Prague, and was the basis for Gustav Meyrink's 1915 novel Der Golem.
A more recent tale involving golems of this type is Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett.
In the Discworld series, Golems are considered to be a sub-type of troll.
The word golem is used in the Bible (Psalms 139:16) and in Talmudic literature to refer to an embryonic or incomplete substance. It comes from the word gelem, which means raw material.
A modern version of the old legends is the play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) by Karel Capek.
In modern times Golems have been heavily referenced by role-playing games, and have expanded the definition from clay and stone, to iron, wood, rope, straw, and flesh amongst other substances.
Golem has been chosen as the name of an ambitious project on robot evolution.