Online Encyclopedia

GNOMES (Fr. gnomes, Ger. Gnomen)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 152 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GNOMES (Fr. gnomes, Ger. Gnomen), in folk-lore, the name now commonly given to the earth and mountain spirits who are supposed to watch over veins of precious metals and other hidden treasures. They are usually pictured as bearded dwarfs clad in brown close-fitting garments with hoods. The word " gnome " as applied to these is of comparatively modern and somewhat uncertain origin. By some it is said to have been coined by Paracelsus (so Hatzfeld and Darmesteter, Dictionnaire), who uses Gnomi as a synonym of Pygmaei, from the Greek yvwjz , intelligence. The New English Dictionary, however, suggests a derivation from genomus, i.e. a Greek type ygvbµos, " earth-dweller," on the analogy of 9akavvovoµos, " dwelling in the sea," adding, however, that though there is no evidence that the term was not used before Paracelsus, it is possibly " a mere arbitrary invention, like so many others found in Paracelsus " (N.E.D. s.v.).
End of Article: GNOMES (Fr. gnomes, Ger. Gnomen)
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