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A legendary dwarfish creature supposed to guard the earth's treasures underground; now popularly represented in a small garden ornament in the form of a bearded man with a pointed hat.

The word is recorded from the mid 17th century, and comes via French from modern Latin gnomus, a word used by Paracelsus as a synonym of Pygmaeus, denoting a mythical race of very small people said to inhabit parts of Ethiopia and India.

gnomes of Zurich an informal term for Swiss financiers, regarded as having a sinister influence; the phrase was popularized by the British Labour statesman Harold Wilson (1916–95).

Subjects: Religion.

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