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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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oaken (English) 'made from oak-wood', seen famously in Thorin's epithet Oakenshield (gained from his use of an oak bough as a shield during the Battle of Nanduhirion). Thorin's title derives of Old Norse Eikinscialdi, which is the name of a Dwarf in the poem Voluspá.
orc (Old English) 'monster, demon' a traditional name used for evil spririts and other malevolent beings, used by Tolkien as a translation of Sindarin orch, referring to a particular race of the followers of Morgoth and Sauron, of which at least some were also known as Goblins. The similarity of Old English orc to Sindarin orch is convenient to say the least, and may suggest the Anglo-Saxon word had an effect on the development of the Elvish equivalent in Tolkien's imagination; for more on the origins of the word orc, see the main Encyclopedia entry for Orcs. Apart from the name of the race of Goblins, orc is recorded in one compound form, the sword-name Orcrist ('Orc-cleaver'). Somewhat confusingly, as this is an Elvish name, the initial Orc- must represent a variation on Sindarin orch rather than Old English orc.
os 1 (Sindarin) a shortened form of ost, meaning 'fortress', seen in Osgiliath ('fortress of the host of stars'), Formenos ('northern fortress'), Mandos ('prison fortress') and Armenelos ('fortress of high heaven'). The same element possibly appears in Elostirion (interpretable as 'fortress watchtower of the Elves') though this is uncertain.
os 2 (Sindarin) 'seven', from a root wood otos, seen in the name Ossiriand, the Land of Seven Rivers east of Gelion.
othrond (Sindarin) 'underground stronghold', derived from ost, 'fortress', and rond, literally 'roofed hall', but often used of wide caverns. The word othrond applied specifically to underground dwellings that had been worked and fortified, rather than natural caves. It is seen uniquely in Nargothrond, 'underground fortress on the river Narog', where Finrod Felagund settled in Beleriand.

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