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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'.

hal(l) (Sindarin) 'tall', 'lofty', and by extension 'superior'; apparently seen in Halbarad ('tall tower', presumably emphasising just how tall Halbarad was), and in Hallatan ('tall Man'). This element does not appear in Haladin, nor in the numerous Hal- names found among that people: those names derived from their own Mannish stems. It may, however, appear in the name of Haldir of Lórien, which can be interpreted as 'tall one'.
haleth (Old English) from hæleþ 'warrior' or 'hero', this is the derivation of the name of Helm's eldest son, slain defending Meduseld. This is not linguistically related to the name of Haleth daughter of Haldad, whose name appears to derive from an early Mannish tongue (though knowledge of the Old English term may have influenced Tolkien's choice of this older name).
hali (Old English) from the Old English hálig, meaning 'holy' or 'sacred'. Seen most prominently in Halifirien, 'holy mountain', where the Tomb of Elendil lay. Halifirien was an approximate translation by the Rohirrim of Amon Anwar, 'Hill of Awe', the original Elvish name of the mountain. Hali- appears in one other place: Halimath 'holy month', the name of the ninth month of the Shire Calendar.
hand (Sindarin) 'intelligent', 'wise', derived from a root khan- meaning 'comprehension', 'understanding'. This word is given as a name element is both Handir (probably simply 'wise man') and Borthand (apparently 'faithful wise'). Despite appearances, it is not present in Rochand, which derives from the unrelated -and, meaning 'region' or 'country'.
hanna (Hebrew) probably from channah, 'grace'. Seen only in Hanna Goldworthy, a Hobbit of the Shire and the only known member of the Goldworthy family. This Hobbit cannot of course have had an actual Hebrew name, so presumably Tolkien's choice of Hanna represents an equivalent concept of 'grace' in the meaning of her real (unknown) name. Hebrew elements were extremely rare in Hobbit-names (indeed Hanna may be a unique case) which perhaps implies that Hanna Goldworthy's forename came from a source unusual to the Shire-hobbits. An alternative interpretation is that Hanna simply represents a transliteration of this Hobbit's true name, and that the connection with Hebrew channah is simply coincidental (though in this case Tolkien could as easily have translated the name as 'Grace').
har (Sindarin) 'south', most prominent in Harad (simply 'the South') referring to the wide regions that lay southward of Gondor. Between Gondor and the Harad lay Harondor ('South Gondor', or literally 'south stone land') and the border between the two was marked by the river Harnen ('south water'). The name was also used twice for places named Harlond ('south haven'), one to the south of Minas Tirith, and the other in the land of Harlindon ('south Lindon', the southern part of the land of Elves west of the Blue Mountains).
hathal (Sindarin) 'blade' of a sword or axe, and by extension simply 'axe'. This precise spelling only appears in the name Hathaldir (probably 'axe-man'), but a variation appears among the people of the House of Hador, whose members included Hathol (who was literally titled 'the Axe') and Hatholdir, apparently also meaning 'axe-man'.
helm (Old English) originally meaning 'defence' or 'protective covering', and the source of our modern word 'helmet' (literally 'protector'). Seen commonly among the names of the Rohirrim, as in Dernhelm ('hidden helm'), Elfhelm (simply 'Elf helm'), and of course King Helm himself.
henneth (Sindarin) 'window' (ultimately derived from hên 'eye'). Seen in this form only in Henneth Annûn, 'Window of the Sunset', the hidden stronghold of the Rangers of Ithilien.
hih (Old English) 'high', seen uniquely in Hihdei, the day name more usually seen in the modern form 'Highday'. This name was used by the Hobbits, but had connections to the original Elves' day of Valanya, 'day of the Powers', so 'High' here refers to the High Ones or Powers of the World, otherwise known as the Valar.
hild (Old English) 'war, battle'. This was a particularly popular name element amongst the Tooks, and several members of that family had names based on hild: Hildibrand ('battle-sword'), Hildifons ('battle-ready'), Hildigard ('battle-ground') and Hildigrim ('battle-fierce'). Apart from these martial Tooks, a name with a similar derivation is seen in Hilda Bracegirdle. These names dated back to a time when the ancestors of the Hobbits and the Rohirrim dwelt together in the Vales of Anduin, and we see related names among the people of Rohan. Hild was the mother of King Fréaláf Hildeson (whose surname meant simply 'son of Hild'), and Elfhild ('Elf-battle') was queen to King Théoden. Hild in this sense is not related to Hildor or Hildórien, which derive from the Elvish for 'follow' and entirely unrelated to this Germanic source.
him (Sindarin) 'continual, permanent'. Probably seen in the name Himring (the hill on which Maedhros' fortress stood, apparently equivalent to 'Ever-cold') and in its derivative Himling (the island formed by that hill after the end of the First Age). This interpretation seems to match the available evidence, but in the linguistic appendix to The Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien suggests as an alternative that this usage may mirror the use of him in the name Himlad, where it means 'cool'.
hir (Sindarin) 'lord' or 'master' (as an individual word, spelt in the accented form hîr). It occurs in three prominent personal names: Gwaihir ('Windlord'), Barahir ('fiery lord') and Elrohir ('Elf-knight', or literally 'Elf-horse-lord'). The form rohir, 'horse-lord', also appears in Rohirrim 'people of the Horse-lords', and the -hirrim ending is also seen in Gonnhirrim, a name for the Dwarves, which means 'people of the masters of stone'. The element hir probably also appears in the names Duinhir, Hirgon and Hirluin, especially as the two of these were actually lords, but hir can also mean 'stream', so interpreting these names with certainty is difficult.
hísi (Quenya) 'mist, fog' (in full hísië, but only the contraction hísi- is found in any recorded names). Used in the Quenya name Hísilómë ('mist-gloom') given to the cold and shadowed northern land better known by the Sindarin equivalent Hithlum. Also seen in Hísimë 'mist-month', the Quenya name of the eleventh month of the year.
hith (Sindarin) 'mist' or 'fog', seen for example in Hithaeglir ('Misty Mountains'), Hithlum ('Mist-gloom') and Nen Hithoel ('Mist-cool Water'). Also seen in the Sindarin name of the misty month of November, Hithui, and metaphorically in the name of the light, grey material used by the Galadhrim in their ropes: hithlain ('mist-thread').
hither (archaic English) 'on this side' (though the word 'hither' is still in current use, this is an archaic meaning of the word, describing the state of being on the speaker's side of some barrier, especially a river or body of water). Used in Hither Lands and Hither Shore to describe Middle-earth (the land on 'this' - the eastern - side of the Great Sea). In Elvish this expression was Nevrast (from which a coastal land took its name), and its opposite was the 'Far Shore' or Haerast of Aman in the West.
hobbit (derived from Old English) 'hole builder', said to derive from Old English holbytla. This is of course an invented etymology, not only in the sense that Tolkien originated the word 'Hobbit', but also in the sense that the word itself emerged first, and its derivation from Old English was invented afterward. To complicate matters further, Hobbits would not have called themselves 'Hobbits', as they spoke neither modern nor Old English. Rather, 'Hobbit' is an anglicisation representing the Westron word kuduk, itself derived from kûd-dûkan, 'hole-dweller'. As well as referring to Hobbits themselves, this word occurs in numerous compounds, including 'Hobbit-holes', 'Hobbit-lands', 'Hobbit-speech', 'Hobbitry-in-arms' and more. The word is also found in the place-name 'Hobbiton', a settlement in the Shire, which means simply 'Hobbit town'.
hol (Old English) 'hole', particularly in the sense of a Hobbit-hole, and representing the Hobbits' own name smial for their underground dwellings. It is notable as appearing in holbytla, 'hole builder', the invented Old English name from which Tolkien derived 'Hobbit' as a modern form. The same element appears in personal names of several members of the Cotton and Gamgee families, especially as 'Holman' 'one who lives in a hole' in (for example) Holman Cotton or Holman Greenhand. One of Sam Gamgee's grandchildren was named Holfast Gardner, where 'Holfast' meant essentially 'stay-at-home' (or literally 'stay-in-hole').
hold (archaic English) 'refuge', especially if that refuge was fortified in some way. Seen especially in Rohan's Hold of Dunharrow among the White Mountains. Also seen in the compound orc-hold, a den or stronghold of the Orcs. Note that the Hold- seen in the name Holdwine means 'faithful, loyal', and is not related to this sense of 'refuge'.
hûr (Sindarin) 'vigour, readiness for action', seen in the name Húrin (in which it is combined with the ending -inn meaning 'inner thought' or 'heart').
hyar(men) (Quenya) 'south' (ultimately derived from the root khyar-, 'left'). A common element in the names of regions in Númenor, particularly the Hyarnustar ('Southwestlands') and the Hyarrostar ('Southeastlands'). The full form hyarmen ('the South' as a place or region) appears in Hyarmendacil ('South-victor') and Hyarmentir ('South-watch').

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