1704: Gnome Ann

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Gnome Ann
President Andrew Johnson once said, "If I am to be shot at, I want Gnome Ann to be in the way of the bullet.".
Title text: President Andrew Johnson once said, "If I am to be shot at, I want Gnome Ann to be in the way of the bullet.".


This comic presents a series of images depicting a female gnome who is known as "Gnome Ann". The humor derives from the fact that the name "Gnome Ann" is a mondegreen of the phrase "no man". (For clarification, "gnome" is pronounced as in the fantastical creature and not as in the Linux-based Gnome desktop system.)

Randall presents the reader with six images (and a title text) captioned with quotations from a wide range of sources, each featuring an instance of the compound noun "no man" being replaced by "Gnome Ann" (and featuring a drawing that reflects this change). There is one proverb, two Biblical quotations, one literary quotation from Cervantes' Don Quixote, one cinematic reference from the Lord of the Rings (film series) (the line Éowyn said to the Witch-king of Angmar before killing him), one quotation from the opening of a television show (Star Trek: The Original Series), and a quotation from a piece of historical rhetoric in the title text.

Table of quotes[edit]

Modified quote Original quote Origin Explanation
"Time and tide wait for Gnome Ann." "Time and tide wait for no man." Proverb Normally it is not possible for anyone to influence time or tides. However in this case it would appear that Gnome Ann is able to stop time, and tides. For the tide, it may be possible that "(Gnome Ann) Is an Island."[1]
"The wicked flee when Gnome Ann pursueth." "The wicked flee when no man pursueth." Bible: Proverbs 28:1 This biblical reference normally implies the wicked are a cowardly and/or paranoid lot, jumping at shadows and eager to flee at simply the pretense of danger or pursuit. However in this case it would imply that wicked people run away from Gnome Ann specifically.
"What therefore God hath joined together, let Gnome Ann put asunder." "What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." Bible: Mark 10:9 In the Bible, Jesus is asked about whether people should be allowed to divorce, and Jesus responds with this quote. It is known to appear in wedding vows, hence the fact that the man and woman in the panel are dressed for a wedding. However, in the comic, the quote becomes a command to Gnome Ann to break apart what God has joined.
"Time ripens all things; Gnome Ann is born wise." "Time ripens all things; no man is born wise." The novel Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes This states that nobody is wise to begin with, and it takes time to become wise. However it now states that Gnome Ann is wise to begin with, suggesting she is not part of the order of things within time.
"Our Mission: To boldly go where Gnome Ann has gone before." "Our Mission: To boldly go where no man has gone before." Intro at Star Trek: The Original Series Originally this was meant to emphasize that they would be going to completely unexplored territory, which would be a potentially risky venture. However in this case, it means that they will be following Gnome Ann, which is not exploration. Though depending on where Gnome Ann has gone, these may still be risky ventures: "(Gnome Ann) goes to battle to be killed." [2]
"Fool! No man can kill me."

"I am Gnome Ann!"

"Fool! No man can kill me."

"I am no man!"

The Lord of the Rings (film series) The Witch-king of Angmar was given a prophecy that he would never be bested in combat by the hand of man, and he boasted "no man" could kill him. Both in Lord of the Rings and this comic, he is defeated by a woman (in this case, Éowyn). Gnome Ann is simply that good. Note that in the Tolkien legendarium, a "Gnome" is an archaic name for the Noldor tribe of elves (e.g. Galadriel).
"If I am to be shot at, I want Gnome Ann to be in the way of the bullet." "If I am to be shot at, I want no man to be in the way of the bullet." Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States Title text: The intent of this statement originally was that Andrew Johnson would rather be killed, than have somebody else be killed trying to save his life. However in this case it would appear that Andrew Johnson would really prefer Gnome Ann to be shot instead of himself, perhaps because he knows that "(Gnome Ann) lives forever." [3]


The Legend of Gnome Ann
[At the beach, between a clock hanging in the air, showing 10 past 10 and the shoreline, Gnome Ann, a woman with curly hair and a black triangular hat, stands with her arms outstretched towards the clock and the sea. For each of the first five panels a text is written within a frame above the drawings.]
Time and tide wait for Gnome Ann.
[Gnome Ann running in from the left frame with her arms out chases three Cueball like men running from her towards right. The one closest to her looks over his shoulder at her, the next runs forward "normally" and the last in front throws up his arms in the air.]
The wicked flee when Gnome Ann pursueth.
-Proverbs 28:1
[Gnome Ann takes the groom's place in a wedding, shoving him to the side. The groom, Hairy with a bow tie, falls while throwing his arms out. The bride stands to the left, in full wedding dress, showing no reaction.]
What therefore God hath joined together, let Gnome Ann put asunder.
-Mark 10:9
[Gnome Ann sits in a yoga position meditating on a big rock in a desolate area with small rocks on the ground around the big rock.]
Time ripens all things; Gnome Ann is born wise.
-Miguel De Cervantes
[The starship Enterprise from Star Trek is seen from behind as it flies to the right, chasing a smaller craft. In this panel the frame with text is shown to emanate from Enterprise with a zig zag arrow pointing to the starship.]
Enterprise: Our Mission: To boldly go where Gnome Ann has gone before.
[The Witch-king of Angmar, Lord of the Nazgûl, from the Lord of the Rings sits on his knees (below the frame) to the left of Gnome Ann, who is preparing to stab him with a sword pointing at his head. She is also holding her other arm out towards him. The Witch-king has a black cloak covering his head and body with a kind of crown with six small spikes shown around his head and one large spike in front. It also goes down on each side of his head showing a gaping hole instead of a face. In this panel the text is spoken by the two characters.]
Witch-king: Fool! No man can kill me.
Gnome Ann: I Am Gnome Ann!

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The lotr reference is about the Witch King of Angmar instead of Sauron Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch-king_of_Angmar 05:05, 8 July 2016 (UTC)Dege

I'm surprised there's no reference to Polyphemus from Homer's Odyssey. Or is there one that I haven't seen? 08:00, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

I saw the first panel, and honestly thought the pun was between Gnome Ann and the gnomon of a sundial. The rest made pretty clear of what's up, though.

Exactly! 15:34, 9 July 2016 (UTC) 10:01, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Between the trenches: Gnome Ann's land. 11:29, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

The Great War saw millions of soldiers venturing into Gnome Ann's land and falling like flies. It took the great empires of Europe over four years to finally accept that Gnome Ann can conquer the world alone, so they finally gave up and returned Alsace and Lorraine to her. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Great comic. I really like this one. The idea is old but is put into new perspective with the drawings. Guess this can be made in different languages. Have seen one in Danish where a person was named Ingens = no one. So if something was owned by no one it was his... Must admit I did not get it until the Star Trek reference but I'm not native English and had to try it out to hear the no man in gnome ann where I would also pronounce the g hard although not for the reason mentioned in the explanation but because the Danish word Gnom is pronounced like that and not like nome. We need a Star Trek category I would say! --Kynde (talk) 14:26, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Done! --Kynde (talk) 15:42, 8 July 2016 (UTC)
I've worked on an information system before that tracked the ownership of various properties, with many of the owners being 'Unknown'. But, due to a previous data migration, the 'Unknown' owner was actually a specific database record. And then someone found the owner of one of these properties and changed the name of its owner...cue the new owner being listed for dozens/hundreds of entries. 04:12, 20 July 2016 (UTC)

It might still be considered a 'literary quotation' but, strictly speaking, the line "I am no man" is from the movie. The original dialogue in the book isn't quite that simple, and the "Gnome Ann" joke probably wouldn't work. 14:28, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Given that it depicts the scene from the movie that is a perfect quote for this comic. --Kynde (talk) 15:42, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Language Log has more of these. .42 (talk) 15:34, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Gnome Ann is an island. -- 16:39, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

I could not resist. greptalk18:31, 08 July 2016 (UTC)

Do you think Gnome Ann does double crit damage? She is no man, and she is Gnome Ann. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Re: The last paragraph of the explanation, is this false splitting, which seems to involve historical changes in words by dividing in the wrong place, or is this a mondegreen? The example which came first to mind is Jimi Hendrix, from Purple Haze : "Excuse me while I kiss (this guy / the sky)." I'm not nearly enough of a grammarian to be sure about the distinction. Miamiclay (talk) 02:25, 9 July 2016 (UTC)

It is a mondegreen, but there definitely is a false splitting there also: "the sky" becomes "this guy", the 's' migrates from the latter word to the former. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I revised the explanation to specify it is a mondegreen which in its very definition includes the bit about homophony. I remember first learning about mondegreen's from XKCD (Lady Mondegreen) but after searching I cannot remember which one to link. :( Oh well.--R0hrshach (talk) 16:04, 11 July 2016 (UTC)

"Gnome Ann mistakenly thinks that 'no man' is actually a reference to her own name." Citation needed. I see no reason to think that she is mistaken about anything. She's not a man; she's not even human. 08:47, 9 July 2016 (UTC)

Gnome Ann threatens a messenger. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

These comments above belong in Gnome Ann's land :-D --Kynde (talk) 20:53, 9 July 2016 (UTC)

"Our Mission: To boldly go where Gnome Ann has gone before." Maybe the dangerous part is Gnome Ann still lurking around? 08:06, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

Could this also be about Randall's gripe with English orthography? 11:33, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

What is up with that trigger warning? It doesn't seem misogynist to me. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I would suppose that they feel that giving women more ability (such as killing an unkillable demon, controlling time and tides, someone who goes after the wicked, has explored the galaxy, etc.) makes them less of a woman. I would then suppose that they neither wish women nor men to be in any way above each other, and that they should be fully equal. Generally throughout history there have been heroes from many walks of like, which today appears to upset people. Sometimes, when one is in a greater position of power there can be much more burden placed on them and as such freedoms may be lost because there may be a desire to keep specific standards or a lack of privacy. 16:44, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
This comic is offensive to some people as it comes across as sick male power fantasy and the whole point of the comic is to poke fun at a woman just because of her name. This comic would not work if it was a guy's name, but it's perfectly OK for you to make fun of women. Ha ha ha, how funny. You're sick.
re ConcernedFeminist. I think you're misunderstanding the comic. The point isn't that Randall is making fun of women, it's that the oft used phrase "no man" sounds like the a gnome with the name "Ann". Thus, it's humerus to imagine a small gnome controlling time, exploring the galaxy, and crashing weddings. How is it a power fantasy? How is gnome Ann being made fun of? If anything, she's incredibly powerful and accomplished. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Considering this is a mondegreen of the phrase "no man", Randall really didn't have a choice in his name selection! "Gnome Ann" is more than just a rhyme or something that sounds similar, it is a phrase that can be mistakenly believed to be the actual reading. Comments above reference Jimi Hendrix lyrics as well as the explanation that references to the wiki on mondegreens. Let's get educated! So why "no man"? Because any name in these sentences reads exactly opposite the original intent and meaning which I think is the punchline of Randall's joke. As though we always thought the speakers were quoted as saying "no man" and really all along they were actually referring to Gnome Ann who must be keeping pretty well hidden from the general population and internet. Let's just say President Andrew Johnson got the joke.--R0hrshach (talk) 16:16, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
Quite the opposite of misogyny, but I actually read this as Randall poking fun at the gender bias in the phrase 'no man'. I thought it was mostly intended as ironic, especially the last panel: "no man can kill me" - but Gnome Ann can, because she's a woman. 17:55, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
It can come across as misogynistic precisely because of the original sexism apparent in the phrase "no man" and also because gnomes are not usually associated with physical strength, thus making the idea of an all powerful gnome doubly hilarious when viewed from a sexist angle. However, I think that the deconstructivistic and language aspects are much more evident -- but there was a time when a comic like that would have pissed me off. You can't joke about sexism without invoking it to some degree.08:50, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
There is no "original sexism" in the phrase -- "man" originated as a term for the species "human," then slowly migrated to refer only to males. In older texts, or works emulating them (such as Lord of the Rings, though Tolkien being a linguistics god probably meant it only as a pun and not some gender statement), no man simply means "no person." If not for that misconception, whomever cried "trigger" would only have been able to do it for the idea of identifying someone named Anne as a female. I doubt Munroe intended to offend anyone, least of all by somehow viewing a mythical species "from a sexist angle," though it certainly doesn't seem hard to do. -- 16:42, 11 August 2016 (UTC)
ConcernedFeminist, please take some time to figure out what Randall is trying to express, and if you cant understand you can read the explanation before commenting. Your rant was completely unjustified, and you way overreacted (adding a trigger warning, posting this issue to the main page) simply because you're extremely triggered and didn't understand the comic. I know this is a reply to a two year old comment, but seriously, this pisses me off to the point where i have to reply. Herobrine (talk) 07:20, 13 September 2018 (UTC)

rip gnome ann, u will b mist

I don’t see a difference; what changed? In any case, why the RIP Gnome Ann? As the explanation states, Gnome Ann lives forever. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

So many posibilities!

"Gnome Ann is good enough to govern any woman without her consent" (Susan B. Anthony) "Gnome Ann is an island" "Fear Gnome Ann and trust no woman" (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

And the legend continues...
"Gnome Ann has entered Hades's domains and returned to tell the tale" (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
"I know your works, and behold, I have set an open door before you which Gnome Ann can shut, because you have a little power, and you have kept my word and have not denied my name." (Revelations: 3,8)
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/9d/3b/73/9d3b73052d50e17b4e26b2e50e8cb948.jpg (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

A friendly reminder that we're explaining a comic featuring linguist humor. Not the first week of women's studies.

Keep it civil, or I'll have to resort to desperate measures.

Thank you for your time. 05:25, 13 July 2016 (UTC)

"A man would pun would pick a pocket"```` (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I'm surprised no one has mentioned a reasonably controversial video game, Gnome Ann's Sky. 15:26, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

Is the ship Gnome Ann flying in the Star Trek frame an AspX? Gfaster (talk) 20:54, 20 September 2020 (UTC)

An user of F-list, a website about (erotic) roleplaying, created a profile (currently SFW, even if the website itself isn't) called "Gnome Ann", explicitly referring to the xkcd comic as the source of inspiration, but featuring some more quotes, both in the text with a comment to describe the character, and through some images (currently 36) portraying the violinist Lindsey Stirling as Ann.

According to CGP Grey, Gnome Ann rules alone. 04:24, 13 November 2021 (UTC)

Just spotted her in Belfast. Can confirm that Gnome Ann is in Ireland. 08:58, 4 April 2024 (UTC)

(...hmmm, some people might comment that Belfast isn't in Ireland, the Republic Of, only on Ireland, the island of. Or similarly insistent language...) 13:55, 4 April 2024 (UTC)