The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien


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Welcome to The Encyclopedia of Arda

The Encyclopedia of Arda is a personal project - a tribute to and a celebration of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The site is evolving into an illustrated hypertext encyclopedia of Tolkien's realms and peoples. It already contains about four thousand entries, and we're constantly adding new entries and expanding existing ones.

Inside the encyclopedia

The Encyclopedia of Arda contains thousands of articles covering topics from J.R.R. Tolkien's world, some brief, some lengthy and some containing detailed essays and discussions.

You'll also find a selection of interactive tools, including a chronicle to help you explore Tolkien's fictional history, and calendar to translate dates and events, a lexicon of names, a glossary of old and rare words, and much more.

Context and approach

The content of the Encyclopedia is written in the same context as Tolkien himself used; he presented himself simply as a translator, rather than originator of the tales. Hence, we try to describe his world from a 'historical' rather than a literary perspective, though sometimes it's useful to explore ideas in their wider context. Where relevant, therefore, you'll also find a few references to Tolkien's life or opinions, or to real historical or mythological parallels to events in his universe.

About the name Arda

Arda was the name given by the Elves to their World and all it contained, and so 'Encyclopedia of Arda' seemed a peculiarly apt title for this project.

Special thanks

Thanks to all those who've e-mailed us over the years with their suggestions, corrections, ideas and just general support.

But the real Special Thanks, though, belong to the memory of J.R.R. Tolkien for his extraordinary and unparalleled creation.

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 1997-2021. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

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Featured Entry


The Common Speech of Middle-earth

Derived mainly from Adûnaic, the ancestral tongue of the Edain and their kin, the Westron was widely spoken by the Men of Middle-earth. When the Númenóreans began to return to Middle-earth during the Second Age, Westron developed into a lingua franca allowing conversation between them and their distant kin. As the Second Age passed, and especially after the establishment of the Númenórean kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor at the end of the Age, Westron became widely spoken by all races in Middle-earth, not just Men. Hence it is often referred to as the Common Speech.

As the chief language of the northwest of Middle-earth, Westron is naturally represented in Tolkien's work by modern English, even to the extent that names of the ancient Westron form are also translated into equivalent forms based on Old English (prominent examples being Hobbit, Rivendell and Shelob, although many others occur). Hence, we have very few examples of 'real' Westron words and names. There are in fact only two significant sources. The first appears in the isolated notes at the end of Appendix F II of The Lord of the Rings, where 'banakil', and 'kuduk' (both referring to hobbits) are given with some other examples. The second source is the names of the Númenórean kings from Ar-Adûnakhôr ('King, Lord of the West') to Ar-Pharazôn ('Golden King'); these are in Adûnaic, and hence closely related to Westron.

The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda