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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'.

gala (Elvish root) 'thrive', 'be healthy, happy, prosperous'. This root word is attested in The Etymologies in volume 5 of The History of Middle-earth, though whether it appears in any extant names is open to question. The only real candidate is Galador (possibly - very speculatively - 'thriving brother'). Though gala as a combination of letters does appear in many other names, in all those other cases the etymology derives from either galad ('shining, radiance') or galadh ('broad, spreading tree').
gam (Old English) derived from gamen, meaning a sport or game, and found in the Hobbit village-name of Gamwich ('game village'). This gave rise to the nickname 'Gamwichy', from which the form 'Gamgee' is ultimately derived. These Old English names are translations of original Hobbit names: Galbasi for the village, and Galpsi as the actual form of 'Gamgee'.
gar (Elvish root) literally 'possess', from which derive two variant forms seen in proper names: (i) 'lord', 'noble' (that is, 'one who holds property'), in Beregar ('valiant noble'); and (ii) 'land' (as in 'possessed place') in Losgar ('place of flowers'). Sense (ii) is etymologically connected with the stem that gives rise to Arda (as the realm in the keeping of Manwë). Not to be confused with the common element -gar seen in Mannish names, especially among the Hobbits, which means 'spear', and is unrelated to this Elvish source.
gil (Sindarin) 'star', from a root meaning 'shine with white light'. This element appears in a great many names, not least the names of certain stars themselves (such as Borgil, 'constant star', or Gil-Estel, 'Star of High Hope'). It is also common in personal names or titles, as for example Gil-galad ('Star of Radiance'), Gilthoniel ('star-kindler'), or Thorongil ('Eagle of the Star'). The plural form giliath ('host of stars') is seen in Osgiliath ('Citadel of the Stars') and Dagor-nuin-Giliath ('Battle-under-Stars'). Note that the element el also means 'star', and also very prevalent in Elvish names.
glóin (Old Norse) perhaps 'glowing or shining one', appearing as the name of two Dwarves. The name comes from the long list of Dwarf names known as the Dvergatal ('Dwarf-tale' or 'Dwarf-list') within the ancient poem Vǫluspá or the 'Prophecy of the Seeress'. Its etymology is not completely sure, but it seems to be connected with the Old Norse word for 'glow' or 'shine' (in Tolkien's work, Old Norse represents the northern language of Men in Middle-earth).
glor (Sindarin) 'gold', 'golden', as for example in Glóredhel ('Golden Elf'), Glorfindel ('Golden-haired Elf') and Sîr Ninglor ('River Goldwater', referring to the Gladden River). Glor is a compressed form of glaur, the Sindarin word for gold, and is related to the Quenya word laurë (as in Laurelin, the Golden Tree of Valinor).
gollum (onomatopeic) an imitation of a throaty swallowing sound made by Sméagol, especially when he was frightened or angry, and from which he took his more common name of Gollum.
gond (Sindarin) 'stone', 'rock', seen most prominently in the names Gondor ('Stone-land') and Gondolin ('Hidden Rock'). This element also occurs in a modified form in Gonnhirrim, 'Masters of Stone', an Elvish name for the Dwarves.
gorn (Sindarin) literally 'impetuous', though in the case of Aragorn (apparently the unique case of this element appearing in a personal name), it was said to be intended as 'valour'. In full, then, Aragorn means 'Kingly valour'.
goth (Elvish root) A form of the word coth, 'enemy', that appears in the name of Morgoth ('Dark Enemy' or 'Black Foe [of the World]'). This form was possibly influenced by an alternative meaning of goth, 'dread' or 'terror', which perhaps appears in one interpretation of Gothmog (on this reading, 'dread enforcer'). This element is linguistically difficult; it is Sindarin in form, but was given by Fëanor before he encountered the Sindar (the explanation for this peculiarity lies in the evolution of Tolkien's linguistic structure; for simplicity, the element is here simply listed as an 'Elvish root').
grind (archaic English) 'protective fence', seen only in the name Grindwall, a landing place on the Withywindle that was protected from the surrounding Old Forest by a 'grind' that walled it off from the threatening trees.
gul (Sindarin) 'magic', 'sorcery', most obviously seen in Morgul ('black magic') and its derivatives, such as Minas Morgul ('tower of black magic'), Morgul-king (a name of the Lord of the Nazgûl), Morgulduin ('river of black magic') and so on. Also seen in Dol Guldur ('hill of dark magic'). The Black Speech -gûl (meaning 'wraith' or 'phantom' in Nazgûl) is possibly derived from this Sindarin element.

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