A gnome is a small spirit first seen in Renaissance magic and alchemy. Gnomes are associated with the earth, the garden, mining and the underground and often guarded treasures from the earth such as gold, silver and gemstones.
The word gnome comes from Renaissance Latin gnomus, which first appears in the works of 16th Century alchemist and doctor Paracelsus. He is perhaps deriving the term from Latin gēnomos meaning "earth-dweller". Paracelcus described them as the most important of the earth spirits able to move easily through the earth and not liking sunlight.
We now use gnomes as those cute little garden dwellers seen to frequent many plant shops and the occassional garden.
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