Others Pygmy
Body type Humanoid
Average height ~ 45 cm
Sentience Sentient
Sapience Sapient
Habitat Underground
Behind the Scenes
Universe Real

A Gnome is a humanoid earth-elemental first described by the 16th century alchemist Paracelsus as one of the four elemental races - the other three being Undines (water), Sylphs (air) and Salamanders (fire). He also referred to them as Pygmies.

The Gnome is traditionally described as a short human-like figure measuring "two spans" (circa 18 inches or 45 cm) in height. They live their lives in the underground, guarding precious gems and minerals. Females of this race may be referred to as Gnomids or Gnomides.

Nowadays Gnomes are commonly associated with other short humanoid creatures of folklore such as Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Fairies, Pixies, Leprechauns, Tomtes and the like. The winged male figure photographed by Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright in one of the famous Cottingley Fairies pictures has been identified by them as a Gnome, perhaps suggesting that Gnomes might be the male equivalent of Fairies.

Elemental Biology

According to Paracelsus, the elementals are material creatures, not unlike human beings, which need to eat and sleep. They're not made of the same corporeal substances as we are, but they're still not considered spirits either. Instead they occupy an intermediate position between these two categories of beings: both spiritual and corporeal.

Each is able to move through and survive within their own element, but not in others. As such, Gnomes move through, see through, breath and live within earth and solid rocks. The same applies to Undines in water and Salamanders in fire. And the Sylphs are the most human-like of the four because like humans, they live in, see through, breath and move through air.

The factor that distinguishes humans and elementals is that the human being consists of the body, the spirit, and an immortal soul. The elementals have the body and the spirit but lack the soul, meaning that they cease to exist upon death. They may acquire a soul, however, if they marry a human being.

In popular culture

  • Gnomids appear along with the other elementals in Alexander Pope's satirical poem "The Rape of Lock", where they're actually depicted as spirits of women who died.
  • L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz series features a race of humanoids known as the Nomes, whose kingdom is inimical towards the Oz nation.
  • In The Faery Convention, by Brett Davis, they're one of the smaller humanoid races, along with Leprechauns, Pixies, etc.
  • In the Harry Potter universe, Gnomes are small garden pests and not really regarded as sapient.
  • One of David Bowie's earlier songs is called "The Laughing Gnome".
  • A Gnome is a central character in the comedy film A Gnome Named Gnorm, where the species is portrayed as furry humanoids with large pointed ears.
  • In Freakazoid, a group of Lawn Gnomes appear as a parody of the Disney show Gargoyles, as they've been cursed by a powerful wizard to spend the days as immobile statues which only come to life at night.
  • A Gnome has a brief cameo appearance in the Duck Dodgers episode "Diva Delivery".
  • Gnomes are a major playable race for the Alliance in World of Warcraft. In the game, irradiated Leper Gnomes.