Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences Between a Gnome and a Dwarf

Gnome vs Dwarf

Among the mythical creatures that humans fear are gnomes and dwarfs. Is there any difference between a gnome and a dwarf? The answer would be yes. Though most of us thought that gnomes and dwarfs are the same creatures, there are slight differences when it comes to their origin.

Records have shown that the term “gnomes” is rooted from the Renaissance period. Great and modern authors of the Renaissance period said that gnomes are small creatures with a humanlike appearance. They are humanoids who are living underground. “Gnome” was a term first introduced by Paracelsus. He was a physician from the Renaissance period with a German-Swiss nationality. He was a great astrologer, botanist, and alchemist during that time.

Paracelsus described the gnomi or gnomes as humanoid creatures who don’t like interacting with humans. And because of their unsociable personality, they only live underground. They are earth dwellers. As humans are free to move above the ground, the gnomes are just as free to move in their own territory.

As depicted today, gnomes are often thought of as the dwarfs of the famous fairytale Snow White. Though they are called dwarfs, they are also called gnomes because of the great influence of modern literature. Ever since modern literature became available, gnomes began to be used to decorate one’s garden.

On the other hand, dwarfs were first introduced in the written records of Norse mythology. The term “dwarf” originated from several old scripts. It is said that the term “dwarf” originated from the Old Norse word “dvegr”; Old English word “dweorg”; and the Old German words “gitwerc” and “zwerc.” You would encounter the dwarfs in one of the poems of Snorri Sturluson which is the Prose Edda. This written work of Snorri is a wonderful compilation of poems gathered from a rich, traditional source. In this great piece of literature, the dwarfs are described as creatures with the same features of the primal being Ymir’s maggots.

The dwarfs are said to be wise creatures since the gods have favored them and bestowed upon them the ability to think. Since dwarfs are thought to be as thinking creatures, the images of dwarfs are often associated with smithing, crafting, and mining. Remember the story about the dwarfs and the shoemaker? If gnomes are earth dwellers, dwarfs are seen to be friendlier creatures. Some dwarfs also live underground, but some are also freely living in the forests and mountains. So if you happen to see a human-like, small creature in the mountains, they are probably dwarfs.

If gnomes look like the dwarfs in Snow White, the real dwarfs are viewed as small and ugly beings. Well, this is only a notion from several literature authors. No one can really accurately describe the appearances of gnomes and dwarfs. Nevertheless, we now know how gnomes and dwarfs come about.


  1. Gnomes and dwarfs are depicted as magical beings.
  2. The Renaissance period had shown records for gnomes while the Norse mythology had shown records for dwarfs.
  3. Both gnomes and dwarfs are small, human-like creatures.
  4. The gnomes live underground, which is why they are called earth dwellers. On the other hand, dwarfs live in forests, mountains, and even underground.
  5. Gnomes don’t like interacting with people while dwarfs are depicted as friendlier beings since they live above the ground.
  6. The images of gnomes are often accompanied with the dwarfs of Snow White while the dwarfs are depicted as small and ugly beings.
  7. Dwarfs are wise creatures. They are gifted with reason. Some say that they are favored by the gods which is why they have the ability to think.

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  1. Okay so if the gnomes are the ones living underground, not friendly, and not liking to be around people, and the dwarves (I thought that was the plural of dwarf) are seen to be friendly and living above ground, it seems strange to me that it is they that are depicted as ugly instead of the gnomes. It is also strange then that gnomes, which live only underground, have become popular for people’s gardens instead of dwarves which can live both above and under ground.

  2. Yeah, where are you getting the information that gnomes are unfriendly?

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