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A gnome is a mythical creature characterized by its extremely small size and subterranean lifestyle. The word gnome is derived from the New Latin gnomus. It is often claimed to descend from the Greek γνώσις gnosis, "knowledge", but more likely comes from genomos "earth-dweller", in which case the omission of e is, as the OED calls it, a blunder. Another possibility is that it comes from the Arabic نوم (Noum), which means sleep. It is also possible that Paracelsus simply made the word up.Paracelsus includes gnomes in his list of elementals, as earth elementals. He describes them as two spans high, and very taciturn. Sometimes they are seen as a type of fairy, though at other times are seen as a distinct species in their own right
Some confusion arises as the gnome is one of many similar but subtly different creatures in European folklore; mythical creatures such as goblins and dwarves are often represented as gnomes, and vice versa.Gnomes feature in the legends of many of central, northern and eastern European lands by other names: a kaukis is a Prussian gnome, and barbegazi are gnome-like creatures with big feet in the traditions of France and Switzerland. Further east, tengu are sometimes referred to as winged gnomes.
According to certain medieval beliefs, Gnomes were deformed, usually with a hunchback, and were led by their king, Gob, who ruled with a magic sword.
Today, Gnomes are traditionally thought of as being small, bearded and wearing pointed, colorful, conical hats. They live in natural areas close to the Earth and care for wildlife. They are more benevolent than other folkloric creatures such as goblins. This traditional view is supported in such fictional works as The Secret Book of Gnomes. Gnomes have also made popular by appearances made in many online games.