gnomes


gnomes
   This name for dwarfs living underground is not part of folk tradition; it is a Latin word invented by the 16th-century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus in a treatise on four species of elemental beings: nymphs in water, sylphs in air, salamanders in fire, and pigmaei or gnomi in the earth. The first English writer to adopt it was the poet Pope, in The Rape of the Lock (1714). Gnomes became more common in 19th- and 20th-century literature, especially for children, where illustrators gave them the standard appearance of dwarfs in Swiss and German folklore, including a red cap. They were often said to be mining for metals and precious stones.
   The first gnome figurines for gardens were small porcelain ones imported from Germany in the late 1860s by Sir Charles Isham, to decorate a large rockery at Lamport Hall (Northamptonshire) imitating a mountain landscape, in which they represented mining dwarfs. Terracotta gnomes were fashionable in late Victorian times; modern mass-produced ones are generally regarded with affectionate mockery.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • gnomes — Freddie Mac s 15 year fixed rate pass through securities issued under its cash program. Bloomberg Financial Dictionary …   Financial and business terms

  • GNOMES —    a set of imaginary beings misshapen in form and of diminutive size, viewed as inhabiting the interior of the earth and presiding over its secret treasures …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • gnomes — nəʊm n. one of a number of small creatures that live in the earth and guard its treasures, goblin, dwarf (Folklore) …   English contemporary dictionary