A recent answer to a question has led me to obtain an e-book for The Dark Elf Trilogy by R. A. Salvatore. The section I am reading uses the word "svirfnebli" as well as "svirfneblin". However, I am unsure if it is a printing issue (or possibly a scanning issue) or an actual word, and I can't really tell why is it different from "svirfneblin".


When the svirfneblin guards ushered him in

Scores of svirfnebli rushed about their posts

Both seem to be referring to multiple deep gnomes, so I am unsure, but this is the first time I have read the word "svirfnebli", and it is used multiple times in the short part of the book I have read so far. Does anyone know what it means and how it should be used?

If possible, I would like to know if the use of the words has changed through the editions. (Maybe in 3rd edition, they both had a use, and it was simplified for more recent editions?)


1 Answer 1


Svirfnebli is the plural noun / adjective for Svirfneblin

Let's switch your examples with Humans:

When the human guards ushered him in

Scores of humans rushed about their posts

That should make things more clear. It is confusing, the words are very similar, but "svirfnebli" is to "svirfneblin" what "elves"/"elven" is to "elf". As fectin pointed out, that is the historic use when the race was first created in Shrine of the Kuo Toa.

That being said, as V2Blast mentioned, 5th Edition does not mention svirfnebli anywhere. In fact, a somewhat deep google search shows few results for that word. We can find some user-made articles

while the svirfnebli fight the duergar

led a small force of svirfnibli

The Svirfnebli, also known as deep gnomes

But it seems to either be old content or user-made one. The author in your book distinguishes both words, as do some other works across the Web, but the more modern and up-to-date use is to use "Svirfneblin" for both singular and plural, similar to how "Duergar" is used.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That is exactly what I thought, but your use of the human example clarifies it perfectly! Thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jan 18, 2021 at 11:56

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