This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Spot the frippet: gnome.

Don't talk to me about garden gnomes.

They borrow your books:

stink out your garden with smoke:

German garden gnome
photo by Colibri1968

and have even been known, most horribly, to play invisible accordions:

Photo by Vivienne.

Gnomes even pop up...but hey, why inflict this aesthetic shock on you, especially in your weakened Monday-morning state? Enough.

Real live gnomes are harder to spot. This is for two reasons: a) they live underground; and, b) they're all old men and so have great trouble producing offspring.

Any small wrinkly old man can be called a gnome, but this is unkind and not to be recommended.

Bankers can be called gnomes, too, especially if they come from Zurich. This is rather unkind, too, but...well, let's face it, I rather doubt in this case that all that many people care.

There is another sort of gnome, pronounced in the same way, which means a short saying expressing some truth or principle. Like, for instance (while we're on the subject of bankers), look before you leap, or a fool and his money are soon parted.

Or even, coming back to garden gnomes there's no accounting for taste.

Spot the frippet: gnome. And hurray hurray, the word gnome was coined by that old foe of The Word Den, Paracelsus the Bighead. The word came to us through French (and where was immigration, that's what I want to know) from the Latin word gnomus.

The word meaning a saying comes from the Greek gignōskein, to know.

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