gnome (n.) Look up gnome at
"dwarf-like earth-dwelling spirit," 1712, from French gnome, from Modern Latin gnomus, used 16c. in a treatise by Paracelsus, who gave the name pigmaei or gnomi to elemental earth beings, possibly from Greek *genomos "earth-dweller" (compare thalassonomos "inhabitant of the sea"). A less-likely suggestion is that Paracelsus based it on the homonym that means "intelligence" (preserved in gnomic). Popular in children's literature 19c. as a name for red-capped German and Swiss folklore dwarfs. Garden figurines first imported to England late 1860s from Germany; garden-gnome attested from 1933.