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Lexicon of Names

Common name elements in Tolkien's works

This lexicon lists some of the more common elements found in the names of places and people in Tolkien's work. These are mainly derived from Elvish tongues, but some common forms from other languages, such as Old English or Adûnaic, are also included, as well as a few less recognisable words that are still found in modern English. There are very large number of these name elements, and this page is being expanded to include more over time.

Where possible, the particular Elvish source language for an element is shown, but sometimes this is not possible (for example, where a common root word occurs in more than one language). In cases like this, terms are simply labelled 'Elvish root'.

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cabed (Sindarin) 'leap' (pronounced kabed) in Cabed-en-Aras, 'Deer's Leap', a deep gorge on the River Teiglin that was said to be narrow enough for a deer to leap across. It was into this same gorge that Niënor Níniel threw herself in despair, after which its name was changed to Cabed Naeramarth, 'Leap of Dreadful Doom'.
cal(a) (Elvish root) 'shine', pronounced kal, seen in names such as Calmacil 'shining sword' or Calmindon 'shining tower'. Closely related is cala, 'light', seen for example in Calacirya ('Pass of Light') or Calaquendi ('Elves of the Light'), and also calen 'bright', from which the Elvish word for 'green' was derived.
cam (Sindarin) 'hand' (derived ultimately from a root kab- meaning 'hollow', so the full sense is 'hollowed hand'; that is, a hand holding or receiving something). Seen in Beren's title Camlost ('Empty-handed'), in which it implies that Beren's missing hand had held a Silmaril. A variant form appears in another title of Beren, Erchamion, meaning 'one-handed'.
carach (Sindarin) 'jaws' (pronounced 'karach') only seen in this specific form in Carach Angren ('iron jaws') the Elvish name for the Isenmouthe of Mordor. The word is ultimately derived from the root carak-, meaning 'fang', seen in various forms (for example in Carchost, 'fang fort', which stood just a few miles to the north of Carach Angren).
caran (Sindarin) 'red, ruddy' (pronounced 'karan') only seen in this specific form in Caranthir, 'ruddy faced', the quick-tempered fourth son of Fëanor. This was the Sindarin form of Caranthir's original name, Carnistir, derived from Quenya carnë, 'red'. Though caran doesn't appear in that precise form elsewhere, it is seen in the etymology of Caradhras. derived from caran rass, 'red horn'.
carl (archaic English) 'man', but implying a servant or low-ranking individual. The name appears twice in the genealogies of the Cotton family; one early member was simply known as 'Carl', and Farmer Cotton's youngest son shared the name. Etymologically related was Old English Ceorl, and that form of the name was preserved in Rohan.
cel (Elvish root) 'go', 'run' (pronounced kel); commonly associated with the flow of rivers, and common in river-names, as for example Celduin (the River Running), Celon (directly from Sindarin celon, meaning literally 'river') and Celos (approximately 'swift stream'). Not to be confused with the very common, but unrelated, element celeb, which means 'silver'.
certa (Quenya) 'rune', pronounced kerta. Seen uniquely in certar ('runes') which was simply the plural form. This word only occurred in Exilic Quenya (that is, Quenya as it was spoken by the Exiles in Middle-earth); it was thought to be an adaptation of the Sindarin word for 'rune', which was certh (plural cirth). All these forms probably derived ultimately from a root meaning 'cutting', as a reference to runes being carved into wood or stone.
chubb (archaic English) from 'chub', the name of a proverbially fat and lazy river fish; hence by association 'chubby' and related terms in modern English. This connection with fatness and laziness was deliberately implied by Tolkien in the name of the Hobbit family of Chubb, and that of the related Chubb-Baggins family.
cram (Sindarin) a word (also spelt cramb) derived from the Elvish root krab-, 'press', and describing a cake of pressed flour or meal that remained edible for long periods, used as travelling rations especially by the Lake-men. The word cram, used to describe a piece of dough, is found in some English dialects, though it is not known whether that term played any part in the coining of this Elvish word.
criss (Sindarin) 'cleft' or 'cut', only seen in one word in the canonical works, Crissaegrim (literally 'cleft-peak-host') a region of the Encircling Mountains of Gondolin. Related is crist, literally 'cutter', used especially of swords and found in the name Orcrist ('Orc-cleaver').
culu (Quenya) 'golden-red'. Pronounced kulu, this element is seen in Culúrien (probably simply 'the golden', a name of the Golden Tree Laurelin), and also in culumalda ('red-golden tree'), the name of the trees growing at Cormallen, which were named from the colour of their leaves.
curu (Elvish root) 'skilled', 'crafty', found in the Curufinwë ('skilled [son of] Finwë'), which was the original name of Fëanor, and also in the variant Curufin, the name that Fëanor chose for his own fifth son. Also prominent in Curunír, 'Man of Skill', which was the Elvish name of the Wizard more familiar from the Mannish equivalent, Saruman.

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