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


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  • Updated 7 May 2010
  • Updates planned: 2


The name of an Elf

An Elf-child was traditionally given two names, one by each of the child's parents, which were collectively known as essi (with the singular form being essë).

The first of these two essi was usually given by the father soon after the child's birth, and it was often connected with his own name in some way. An example of this is in Finwë's naming of his eldest son as Curufinwë (and also, perhaps less obviously, incorporating elements of his name into those of his other sons, Fingolfin and Finarfin).

The second essë was given by the mother, sometimes also soon after the child's birth, but often some years later. It was intended to reflect some characteristic of the nature of the child, or even provide a glimpse of their fate (the mothers of Elf-children were said to have great insight and often foresight in these matters). An example of this is the name later given to Curufinwë by his mother Míriel, who named him Fëanor, 'Spirit of Fire', the name by which he became known to history.

In addition to the essi, the famous or powerful among the Eldar often also acquired a third name, an epessë or 'after-name' that described their special qualities or deeds.

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