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Name Distinguishes them from Pictsies
Race Gnomes
Occupation stealing, fighting, drinking, watchmen, rat catchers
Physical appearance small but very strong
Residence Ankh-Morpork, Skund
Marital Status
Books The Light Fantastic, Feet of Clay, Jingo, Monstrous Regiment, Raising Steam
Cameos Moving Pictures, Theatre of Cruelty, Night Watch

Gnomes on the Discworld are six inches tall, resembling humans in general body shape, and usually live alone. A gnome has more physical strength than his size would suggest, and sometimes gives painful, bone-cracking hits to people who have underestimated him. Swires, the first gnome to appear in the Discworld chronicles, made his appearance in a forest area (The Light Fantastic), but in recent years, some gnomes have come to the city of Ankh-Morpork and obtained jobs as tradesmen (Wee Mad Arthur, pest terminator in Feet of Clay) or even Watchmen (Buggy Swires, first appearance as a Watchman in Jingo).

Gnomes appear to be identical to the Ramtops Pictsies but they are found as individual examples; there is no mention of a Gnome society. They may be exiles from the hive-like societies that created them. Wee Mad Arthur is very like the Feegles (for reasons which are finally explained in I Shall Wear Midnight); Buggy Swires less so, although he uses the same bird-taming method as Hamish the Aviator.

The differences between the Gnomes and the Pictsies can be likened to the rivalries between the Jocks (Scots, so Pictsies) and the Geordies (Northern English, like the Gnomes).

In The Science of Discworld II: the Globe Ponder Stibbons and Rincewind are consulting with Hex concerning the difficulties the Faculty are having with a viral infestation of Elves on Roundworld.

A mechanical eyeball about a foot across lowered itself carefully from the ceiling. Ponder didn't know exactly how it worked, except that it contained vast amounts of incredibly finely drawn tubing. Hex had drawn the plans one night and Ponder had taken them along to the gnome jewelers... (The Science of Discworld II: the Globe, p14).

In other words, gnomes made Hex's scanner-analogue, and work as jewelers in Ankh-Morpork, presumably on the (logical) basis that their tiny hands and fingers would be ideal for incredibly fine metalwork of any kind. This presumes a settled people with mechanical/engineering knowledge and a certain amount of intellectual curiosity. These may be the famed Gnomes of Dzu'rich, yet we've only so far met the other sort of gnome, whose relationship with precious metals and stones would be limited to how much they can carry after robbing the jewelers.

However Gnomes, unlike Pictsies, are generally more reliable and sensible (and other words ending in …ible) so could hold down jobs as jewelers, or glass blowers, or as we have seen: working in puppet shows. (Theatre of Cruelty).

The Ankh-Morpork Post Office Handbook Diary 2007 mentions that the Post Office has invited gnomes along with small gargoyles to take up residence inside post-boxes in order to keep the mail safe and to keep it free from pests that would damage the postage.

In Raising Steam, a colony of Gnomes, who live along the Railway line to Überwald, are now under the employ of Lord Sir Harry King and the Ankh-Morpork and Sto Plains Hygienic Railway, holding down the fort at one of the Uberwald route's coal and water stops.

Gnomes are not to be confused with nomes, which are the protagonists in the Bromeliad series. (Except that they're both sub-miniature humanoids living a mainly parasitic existence beneath the notice of the "biggers". So go ahead, be confused.) Gnomes are found on Discworld; Nomes are probably on Roundworld (cf. the "Borrowers").

List of Gnomes


Despite updating up to the novel Snuff, the Discworld Companion Turtle Recall retains a mistake from its previous entries still states that Gnomes, Goblins and Pictsies are all the same species despite the fact that there is ample evidence that all three are separate, distinct species. Most of this information comes from Snuff. This error may stem in part from early versions of Theatre of Cruelty, in which "goblin" was used as well as "gnome" to refer to the members of the performing troupe of gnomes.