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

Contents

Alphabetical index

Browse topics

Reference

Other editions

Tolkien news and resources

Sponsors and associates

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'.

falas (Sindarin) 'shore', 'coast' (from a root fal- meaning 'wave'), from which came the name of the western coastland of Beleriand, known as The Falas, whose people were the Falathrim. As might be expected, falas is often seen in shoreland place-names, for example Anfalas ('long shore', archaic Langstrand), Belfalas (where the initial Bel- is obscure) or Tolfalas ('shoreland island', or possibly 'isle of waves'). Also seen in the personal names Falastur ('Lord of the Coasts') and Tar-Falassion ('King of the Coasts').
falma (Sindarin) 'wave'. The plural falmar 'waves' is seen in Falmari ('people of the waves', the Sea-elves of the West), and also in Mar-nu-Falmar, 'home beneath the waves', a name given to Númenor after was consumed by the Great Sea in the Downfall.
fast (Old English) a modernised spelling of fæst, meaning 'solid, fixed, firm'. It survives into modern English in words like 'Steadfast' (which originally meant literally 'fixed in place' or 'immovable'). Because of the ancient shared heritage of the Hobbits and the Rohirrim, it is found in names among both cultures, notably in Fastred ('firm council') the name of two Men of Rohan and of the Hobbit Fastred of Greenholm. Fast is also seen in the name of Fastolph Bolger, whose forename meant 'firm wolf'. It also appears several times in the given names of members of the Gamgee family, including Hamfast ('stay-at-home'), Halfast and Holfast. The meanings of the latter two names are not absolutely clear, but they seem to be variations on 'stay-at-home' (with a connection to Hobbit-holes in the name Holfast). Despite the Anglo-Saxon appearance of the name Ulfast, that name does not apparently contain this element, with -fast deriving in that particular case from an unrelated Elvish source meaning 'shaggy hair'.
fëa (Quenya) 'spirit', the immaterial essence of a being, as opposed to the hröa or body. This element is seen in Fëanor ('Spirit of Fire') and Fëanturi ('Masters of Spirits').
fela (Old English) 'very', an intensifier used in the canonical works only in the name of Eorl's horse Felaróf (meaning either 'very strong' or 'very valiant'). In earlier works, the same word is seen in Felanóþ and Felahrór, Old English surnames of Finarfin and Finrod that both mean 'very bold'. This element doesn't appear directly in Felagund (which derives from Dwarvish), though it may have been its predecessor in Tolkien's imagination: the original Old English form of Finarfin's name was Finred Felanóþ, which may have helped give shape to the later name Finrod Felagund that came to be borne by Finarfin's son.
fell (English) 'moorland hill', in Coldfells and Troll-fells, hilly regions that lay to the north of Rivendell.
fengel (Old English) 'king' or 'prince', the name given to the youngest son of Folcwine, who succeeded his father to become Rohan's fifteenth King.
ferdi (Germanic) sources differ on the meaning of this element, relating it to various possible origins meaning 'journey', 'bold', 'peace' or 'protection'. It appears in the names of two Hobbits, a father and son of the Took family. In Ferdinand Took's name, there is also disagreement over the -nand element, with some sources interpreting as 'boldness', and others preferring 'voyager'. His son Ferdibrand has a name that is more easily understandable: -brand means 'sword'.
fíli (Germanic) one of numerous Dwarf names taken from the Dvergatal, the list of Dwarves in the Old Norse poem Völuspá. Its meaning is not known with certainty, and different sources offer different interpretations. Given that the name appears in the Dvergatal directly beside Kíli, and both of those names can be read as names for tools borrowed into Old Norse from Low German, this seems the most promising approach to an interpretation. On that basis, the name Fíli means 'file' or 'rasp' (while Kíli meant 'wedge').
fin(d) (Elvish root) 'hair', particularly a lock of hair. It was used of the important Elf Finwë ('hair one'), who was said to have had unusually long and impressive hair. Finwë gave variants on his own name to his sons, and those sons passed on the tradition, so there were many descendants of Finwë's house with this element in their names. Finwë's three sons were Curufinwë ('skilled Finwë', better known as Fëanor), Fingolfin ('Finwë, wise Finwë') and Finarfin ('Finwë, noble Finwë'). Finwë's grandchildren included Finrod ('mighty Finwë') and Curufin (a variant on Curunfinwë 'skilled Finwë'). A notable case is Finwë's grandson Fingon 'hair hero', whose fin- referred to his own gold-braided dark hair. While most prevalent in the line of Finwë, there are also a handful of independent and unrelated cases, such as Glorfindel ('golden-haired Elf') and Finglas ('Leaflock', where 'lock' relates to a lock of hair). It should be noted that the meaning of this element underwent radical change in Tolkien's imagination. Earlier sources derive many of the names listed here from phin-, 'skill', but in later texts they are explicitly connected with the meaning 'hair' (with, in many cases, specific explanations for the association). The old meaning 'skill' appears to have survived in at least one case: that of Findegil the scribe of Gondor, whose name seems to mean something like 'skilled writer' rather than 'hair writer'.
fola (Old English) 'foal', 'colt' or 'young horse', seen in Windfola ('wind-foal'), the name of the horse ridden by Éowyn (in her guise as Dernhelm) to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
fold(e) (Old English) 'land', 'ground', 'country', used by the Rohirrim to name regions of their land of Rohan, and especially those in the populated regions along the feet of the White Mountains. The vales running westward from the capital at Edoras were known as the Westfold, while those running eastward were known as the Eastfold. The lands around Edoras itself were known simply as the Folde, literally 'the land' (though in The Etymologies Tolkien gives a more precise interpretation of folde as 'bosom of Earth', which can perhaps be connected to its central location within Rohan).
fore (Old English) 'before, preceding, ahead of', still used as a modifier in modern English. It occurs in the names of two months of the Shire Calendar: Forelithe, the month before Lithe or Midsummer, and Foreyule, the month preceding Yule or midwinter. Though the word fore is actually found in Old English, it did not occur in the original Anglo-Saxon names for these months, which were variations on ǣrra Līða and ǣrra Gēola. In both cases, Tolkien has modernised the original term ǣrra to the more recognisable equivalent 'fore', which carries an identical meaning.
formen (Quenya) 'north', seen in this particular form only in Formenos ('northern fortress'), the fortified retreat of Fëanor in the north of Valinor. Sindarin words from the same origin, for, forn and forod are more common, notably in Fornost (also meaning 'northern fortress'), the later capital of the North-kingdom of Arnor.
foro(d) (Sindarin) 'north', especially as a region in the cold north of Middle-earth. From this source are derived the names Forochel ('north-ice') and Forodwaith ('north-people', used as the name of both the people themselves and the lands they inhabited).
frár (Old Norse) a name taken from the Dvergatal, the list of the Dwarves in the Old Norse poem Völuspá. Its meaning is disputed, with different sources offering different interpretations. The most common of these is 'swift' or 'advancing' but alternatives exist, and the name is sometimes taken to mean either 'brilliant' or 'famous'.
frery (Old English) a modernisation of fréorig, Old English for 'freezing'. Used in Bree as the name of the first month of the year, equivalent to Afteryule on the Shire Calendar, or (approximately) to modern January.
fuin (Sindarin) 'deep shadow', a word linguistically related to 'night', and often poetically translated 'nightshade'. Seen in Taur-nu-Fuin ('Forest under Nightshade' a name used of both Dorthonion and Mirkwood), Emyn-nu-Fuin ('shadowed hills', the Mountains of Mirkwood) and Tol Fuin (literally 'island of shadow', but actually deriving from its origins as the highlands of Taur-nu-Fuin in the First Age). The same element is also apparently seen in Fuinur, the name of a leader of the Black Númenóreans (its full meaning is uncertain, though it might perhaps be 'shadow-fire' or 'great shadow').

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

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 2010, 2018-2020. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

Website services kindly sponsored by Your Free Personality Test, the free personality test online
Get real insights into who you are. Try a free personality test from Your Free Personality Test today.
The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda
Menu
Homepage Search Latest Entries and Updates Random Entry