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Gnomes

(1 syl.), according to the Rosicrucian system, are the elemental spirits of earth, and the guardians of mines and quarries. (Greek, gnoma knowledge, meaning the knowing ones, the wise ones.) (See Fairy, Salamanders.)

“The four elements are inhabited by spirits called sylphs, gnomes, nymphs, and salamanders. The gnomes, or demons of the earth, delight in mischief, but the sylphs, whose habitation is in air, are the best conditioned creatures imaginable.” —Pope: Pref. Letter to the Rape of the Lock.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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