30 March 2018

Provenance of a "gnome"

The Paris Review looked up the provenance of familiar folk wisdom that the month of March "comes in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb."  They found the adage recorded in Gnomologia: adagies and proverbs; wise sentences and witty sayings, ancient and modern, foreign and British, published in 1732.  It probably dates further back in folk wisdom, but perhaps not in written form.

You can browse the book full-text.  It's chock full of proverbs and aphorisms:

I had to look up "gnomologia."  "Knowledge of the gnomes" didn't quite compute.  I found out that "gnome" can also be defined as -
"short, pithy statement of general truth," 1570s, from Greek gnome "judgment, opinion; maxim, the opinion of wise men," from PIE root *gno- "to know."
You learn something every day.


  1. Makes sense ~ gnosis = knowledge. Gnomen = spiritual knowledge.

  2. Also, the piece that casts the shadow on a sundial is called a gnomon.

  3. And gnomes are short...


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