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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'.

e (Sindarin) 'of', seen uniquely in Taur-e-Ndaedelos, 'Forest of the Great Fear', an Elvish name for Mirkwood. This is presumably a modification of -i-, which is more usual in this context.
eär (Elvish root) 'sea', most famously seen in the name of Eärendil the Mariner ('devoted to the sea'), but also in a variety of other names, such as Eärendur ('sea servant'), Eärnil (also 'devoted to the sea', from a comparable etymology to Eärendil) or Eärwen 'sea maiden'.
echad (Sindarin) 'camp' in Echad i Sedryn, the 'Camp of the Faithful' on Amon Rûdh. This word presumably shares some part of its etymology with the similar element in Echoriath ('Encircling Mountains') or Rammas Echor ('Wall of the Circle'); that is, it implies a camp encircled by some form of protection.
edain (Sindarin) 'Men', the plural form of adan 'Man'. The word literally means 'Second People' (as opposed the 'Firstborn', the Elves) and though it was sometimes used to refer to the entire race of Men, it was more usually applied to the descendants of the Three Houses of the Edain who allied themselves with the Elves in the Wars of Beleriand. Those Men who settled in Númenor in the Second Age became known as the Dúnedain ('Men of the West'), a name that remained in use even after Númenor itself was destroyed. Edain is also seen in Drúedain, the 'Woses' who dwelt with the Haladin in Brethil, and in Arthedain, 'realm of the Edain'.
elda(r) (Elvish root) 'Elves', usually referring to a particular branch of that people. When the Vala Oromë discovered the newly awakened Elves in Middle-earth, he gave them the name Eldar, 'People of the Stars' (from el, 'star'), though in later times the name came to be more specifically attached to those of the Elves who made the Great Journey into the West. (The related term Eldalië retained its broader meaning as a collective name for all Elves.) The singular form for a single Elf was Elda, and the adjective (relating especially to their languages) was Eldarin. From this term derived words like Eldamar ('Elvenhome') or Tareldar ('High Elves'), as well as several place-names associated with the Eldar, such as Mindon Eldaliéva ('tower of the Elves'), Eldalondë ('Elf-haven') and Eldanna ('towards the Eldar'). This element is also seen in the names of certain Men: there were two Kings of the Dúnedain named Eldacar ('Elf helm'), and Aragorn's son and heir was named Eldarion ('descendant of the Eldar', presumably in reference to his Half-elven mother Arwen).
eledh (Sindarin) 'Elf', a variant of edhel, the more usual word in Sindarin, that recalls the etymological origin of the Elves as 'People of the Stars' (the ancient word for 'star' being elen). The form eledh is rare, but appears occasionally in the compound Eledhrim, a name for Elves as a people. In personal names, it occurs uniquely in Morwen's surname Eledhwen, which literally means 'Elf-maiden', but is usually translated 'Elfsheen'.
elen (Quenya) 'star' (said to be a poetic form of the word el). Seen in several names relating to stars, such as Elentári ('Queen of the Stars'), Elentirmo ('Star-watcher') or Elenna ('Starwards'). By association with the Eldar or People of the Stars, elen can often mean 'Elf' rather than 'star', as for example in Elendil ('Elf-friend') or Elendë ('Elvenhome'). In some cases it is difficult to be sure of the intended association; for example, Elendur might in principle mean either 'devoted to the stars' or 'devoted to the Elves' (though the latter seems rather more likely).
elf (Old English) one of several spellings in Old English for a race of folkloric supernatural beings, with other regional variations including ælf and ylfe (with the former being somewhat more prevalent in Anglo-Saxon names). Tolkien chose this term to translate Elda, the name for one of the Firstborn race in his legendarium. Its ultimate origins are hard to disentangle: some sources suggest that it derives from an ancient word for 'white', while others connect it to words meaning 'nightmare'. It also appears in many compound forms, such as Elf-friend (Old English Elfwine), Elf-stone, Elf-cake, Elf-speech, and so on. As a word of Anglo-Saxon origins, it is also seen in various names derived from Mannish tongues, not only Elfwine above, but also Elfhild ('Elf-battle'), Elfhelm ('Elf-protector') and Elfstan ('Elf-stone'). The plural is Elves, and the most common adjectival forms are elven or elvish, though a rare variation elfin is seen in Elfinesse ('land(s) of the Elves').
elu (Sindarin) a 'Sindarisation' of the Quenya name Elwë, meaning essentially 'the one of the stars'. This was the name of the great King of Doriath, Elu Thingol (with Thingol itself being an adaptation of Singollo, 'Greycloak'). Thingol's grandson Dior passed the name to his own sons, who were known as Eluréd ('heir of Elu') and Elurín ('remembrance of Elu'). The same element also appears in Dior's own title Eluchíl, which literally meant 'follower of Elu', but is usually translated 'Thingol's Heir'.
emel (Sindarin) 'mother', a rare name element seen only in Emeldir the name of Beren's mother. Often called the 'Manhearted', Emeldir's name seems to translate literally as 'man-mother'.
emyn (Sindarin) the plural of amon, 'hill', used in the names of ranges of hills or downs throughout Middle-earth. Examples include Emyn Arnen (approximately 'hills of Ithilien'), Emyn Beraid ('Tower Hills', incorporating the plural of barad, 'tower') and Emyn Uial ('Hills of Evendim'). The word emyn would normally be pronounced 'emoon', though the Gondorian pronunciation differed, so that in (for example) the Emyn Arnen of Gondor, the word would have sounded more like 'emeen'.
endis (Elvish root) 'wife', 'bride'. The usual form was indis, which was an intensified form of ndis, 'woman', but in the name Erendis ('lonely wife') the initial vowel sound i mutates into an e. The full spelling indis can be seen in the subtitle of Erendis' tale, Indis i·Kiryamo, which translates as 'The Mariner's Wife'.
ent (Old English) 'giant', 'mighty ancient one' preserved in Anglo-Saxon phrases such as eald enta geweorc ('ancient works of giants'), which probably originally referred to the Roman ruins found in Saxon England. Tolkien used the word as the name of a race of ancient Tree-herds, called the Ents by the Rohirrim (and the Onodrim by the Elves). This element is found in many combinations, especially the names of the lost Entmaidens, Entwives and Entings (that is, young Ents), as well as Entish (the name of the Ents' language), Ent-draughts, Ent-houses, Ent-strides and so on. The same element is also seen in several place names associated with the Ents, hence Entwood (that is, Fangorn Forest), Entwash ('flooding river of the Ents') and Entwade (a ford of the Entwash not far from Edoras).
enyd (Sindarin) the plural of onod, the word translated by Tolkien using the Old English Ent. Enyd would be used for a group of several Ents, but the collective plural for the entire race was Onodrim ('Ent people').
eofor (Old English) 'boar', the name of the third son of King Brego of Rohan, a distant ancestor Éomer. The related form ever appears in Everholt, 'boar wood'.
ephel (Sindarin) 'fence', specifically referring to an 'outer' or 'surrounding' fence. Used in a literal sense in Ephel Brandir, the fenced fortification of Brandir on Amon Obel in Brethil, also sometimes called simply 'the Ephel'. The same element is used figuratively in Ephel Dúath, 'fence of shadow', the chain of mountains that bordered Mordor to the west.
er 1 (Elvish root) 'lone', 'single', denoting unique beings or things, or those that stand apart from others. From this derives the name Eru, meaning simply 'the One', the creator of Arda. Several familiar names incorporate this element, including Erebor the 'Lonely Mountain' and Eriador the 'Lone-lands'. Tol Eressëa, the island of the Eldar in the West, had a name that meant the 'Lonely Isle', while Erendis, the estranged Queen to Tar-Aldarion, had a name that literally meant 'lonely wife'. While loneliness is part of the meaning of this root, it can also refer to simple singularity, so for example Erui, a short river in Gondor, got its name simply because it lacked any tributaries.
er 2 (Old English) a contraction of 'erd', meaning 'earth', found solely in the Hobbit-name 'Erling' (earlier spelt 'Erdling'). That name literally translates as 'earthling', in the sense of one who worked with the earth. In Old English this usually indicated a farmer or especially a ploughman, though given Erling's family traditions it more likely suggests 'gardener' in his particular case. Note that this element is not to be confused with the Elvish prefix er-, indicating a single or lonely thing.
ered (Sindarin) the plural of orod, 'mountain', used very frequently in the names of mountain ranges. Examples include Ered Luin ('Blue Mountains') and their alternative name Ered Lindon ('Mountains of Lindon'), as well as Ered Engrin ('Iron Mountains'), Ered Wethrin ('Mountains of Shadow'), and Ered Nimrais (the Elvish name for the White Mountains, which translates literally as 'White-horned Mountains').
esse See nesse.
et (archaic English from Old French) a diminutive ending, used in forming the names of small or young animals, as for example 'leveret' (a young hare), 'eaglet' (a young eagle) or 'piglet' (a young pig). Tolkien uses this pattern to form the word 'Dragonet', a name for a young Dragon.
ethir (Sindarin) translated 'spy', though the literal meaning seems to be closer to 'lookout'. This word apparently derives from a compound like et-tîr, to 'watch out' or 'look out'. It appears uniquely in Amon Ethir, the 'Spyhill' raised by Finrod to watch the approaches to his city of Nargothrond. Ethir in this sense is not to be confused with the Elvish word for a river-mouth (notably in Ethir Anduin, the 'Mouths of Anduin') which has a separate derivation.
even (archaic English) 'evening' (from Old English æfen). In Evendim it referred to 'evening twilight' (a partial translation of Elvish uial), and the poetic name Evereven ('forever twilight') had a similar derivation. Arwen's surname Evenstar meant 'evening star', symbolising not only the 'twilight' years of the Elves in Middle-earth, but also connecting her to her grandfather Eärendil and the Silmaril he bore.

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