- Gnomes are creatures that originated in Scandinavian folklore. These beings are divided into "light" gnomes and "black" gnomes. The light gnomes act as domestic helpers around the house and are creatures who reward dutiful servants. Wicked gnomes are subterranean creatures akin to dwarfs who mine and hoard gold, gems or other treasures. These gnomes are said to play tricks on people or injure crops and livestock.
- Alchemy was, in medieval times, the pseudo-science of seeking to transform common materials such as wood or iron into precious metals such as gold or silver. Gnomes were symbolic of earth among the four natural elements (earth, fire, water and air) that alchemists sought to control to produce transformations. The name gnome may have come from the Latin genomus or "earth dweller."
- Garden gnomes were first manufactured in Poland in the 19th century. The earliest reference to garden gnomes is an advertisement in an 1886 edition of a German newspaper. The advertisement states the gnomes were manufactured in Neuwedell, a town once part of German territory.