Friday, April 8

G is for Gnome

Gnomes are a more recent addition to European folklore. The earliest mentions of them date to the 16th century. Male gnomes wear red pointy caps, have big beards, and usually have a tool belt, which relates to the fact that they're technologically inclined. Female gnomes tend to wear more muted colors, has her hair in braids, and begins to grow a light beard when she reaches 350 years of age. They are very small in size, usually ranging from 5 inches to 2 feet tall depending on the source. Both genders have a very long lifespan.

German Garden Gnome
Gnomes are considered more human than their more unluckier cousins and fierce rivals, goblins. Both are viewed as a type of a earth spirit, but gnomes are known as inventors and alchemists, while goblins use crude but effective tools. Gnomes also tend to be capable of earth-related magic.

There are several different types of gnomes. Woodland gnomes, Dune gnomes, House gnomes, Farm gnomes, Garden gnomes, and Siberian gnomes. Woodland and Dune gnomes avoid contact with humans. House and Farm are good-natured and more likely to interact with humans. Garden gnomes enjoy living in older gardens and telling depressing stories. The Siberian gnome is meaner and takes revenge for even the smallest of offenses.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • The origin of the word gnome comes from Latin word gēnomos, which means "earth-dweller." In the 16th Century, a Swiss alchemist named Paracelsus first wrote about gnomus omitting the "ē," which the OED noted was a blunder. The word as we know it today came about in the early 18th century, but it became popular in the 19th century due to their popularity in children's fairy tales.
  • In Scandinavian mythology, they're thought to have always existed but were mostly considered related to other beings, such as fairy or fey.
  • During the 20th century, due to the popularity of 19th century fairy tales, gnomes became synonymous with other domestic spirits, which protected the residence and did household chores, losing their distinctness of being tied to earthy, subterranean lives.
Here's a fun video from the video game Fable 3, which features a gnome hurling insults at the main character. It's pretty darn funny.

Who are your favorite Gnomes? What books, movies, or games have you enjoyed with them in it? Has anyone seen the newish movie Gnomeo and Juliet?


  1. :) love gnomes. They're harmless and can actually be helpful. Thanks for the detailed post.

  2. I must admit that video was funny despite my irrational fear of gnomes.

  3. I'm particularly fond of the Human Gnome Project, which seeks to identify every single person in the world who is actually a gnome in disguise.

    Thanks for the fun, informative post! I never knew there were so many gnomes who could be trusted.

  4. Yes, gnomes. They're very popular over here. We call them 'kabouters'.

    I like the atmosphere of Rien Poortvliet's gnomes, worlds and stories.

  5. I did see Gnomeo and Juliet (though I wasn't actually interested) and I really enjoyed it.
    I remember watching Peter the Gnome as a child. We lived in a wooded area and I imagined every little knot in each tree housed something magical.

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    Damyanti, I agree. Gnomes are awesome. I have a gnome in one of my stories, and well... he's kind of a cross between Siberian and Garden gnome. He can be deadly when he wants to be. You're welcome, and thanks for stopping by!

    Kari, I'm glad you enjoyed the video! I think the gnomes in that game are hilarious.

    Nate, I'm glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for stopping by.

    K.C., wow! That's really cool. Thanks for sharing the link. His art is really pretty. I'll have to try to find one of his stories over here.

    Erin, that's great! The trailer was pointed out to me about the time I finished working on a story with a gnome in it (in late January). At first I thought, oh goodness... people are going to think I wrote my story because of it, but then I thought, well, it's pretty cute. I haven't seen it yet, but I probably will, especially since I saw that Jason Statham plays Tybalt in it. lol I used to watch Peter the Gnome as a kid too. That's awesome that someone else knows about that show too. :-D


Thanks for stopping by! I love getting new comments, and I hope to see yours soon.

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