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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'.

ranga (Sindarin) literally 'pace' or 'stride', but used by the Númenóreans as a unit of measurement, equivalent to approximately 38 inches, or slightly less than one metre. The plural was rangar, and five thousand of these rangar composed one lár, a distance of slightly less than three miles (or about 4.8 kilometres).
ras (Elvish root) originally referring to anything that sticks up or out, this word came to mean 'horn', as in the literal horn of an animal, but was also commonly used in a figurative sense for geographically features. The word appears in several names of mountains, notably Caradhras ('Redhorn'), Methedras (the 'last horn' of the Misty Mountains) and possibly Taras (uncertain, but interpretable as 'high horn'). In the plural form rais it is also seen in Ered Nimrais ('mountains of the white horns') the Elvish name for the White Mountains. The same word was also sometimes used of capes or promontories, as in Ras Morthil (uncertain, but perhaps simply 'dark cape') or Barad Nimras ('tower of the white horn', where the 'white horn' seems to be the headland on which the tower stood).
rath (Sindarin) 'way' or 'street', derived from a root meaning 'climb', seen in the names Rath Celerdain ('Lampwrights' Street') and Rath Dínen ('Silent Street'), both in Minas Tirith. Also seen in Andrath ('long way', or 'long street') where the Greenway ran through a long gorge, and also in Cirith Forn en Andrath (translated 'northern pass of the long climb', with the original interpretation of rath as 'climb') the Sindarin name of the High Pass above Rivendell. As the previous example shows, rath can bear several interpretations; it goes back ultimately to a root rat- meaning 'walk', and can be applied in various forms to paths, streets, climbs, crossings and even river courses. An example of the last is in Rathlóriel ('Goldenbed') where rath describes the course of the bed of the river.
rem (Elvish root) 'net' or 'mesh', seen uniquely in Remmirath (literally 'net of a host of jewels', but translated more simply as 'Netted Stars'). The etymology of this element is uncertain, but it may perhaps be related to rempa, meaning 'hooked'.
rhim (Sindarin) 'rush', as in the torrential flow of a river or stream. This name element appears in various forms (including rhib or rhimmo) all deriving ultimately from the root rip-, meaning 'rush' or 'fly' in a more general sense. Rhim appears in a single known river name, Rhimdath, the stream known in Mannish as the 'Rushdown', that flowed eastward out of the Misty Mountains and into Anduin above the Carrock.
rim (Sindarin) 'large number, host', commonly used as a suffix for collective plurals to describe peoples and cultures. It is often seen in the Elvish names for different races of divisions of peoples, as for example in Edhelrim, ('Elves', ultimately from 'star-people'), Naugrim ('Stunted People', that is 'Dwarves'), Onodrim ('Ent-people') and so on. This ending could also be attached to a geographic name to describe the inhabitants of that region, as in Gondolindrim ('people of Gondolin'), Haradrim ('people the Harad') or Falathrim ('people of the Falas'). In the case of the Halethrim, the suffix is connected to a historical leader of the people, so the word translates as 'People of Haleth'. Finally, -rim could also be attached to some quality or aspect of a people, so Mithrim ('grey people' or 'Sindar', referring to a northern land where they dwelt), Galadhrim ('tree people', the Silvan Elves of Lórien) or Rohirrim ('horse-master-people', the Riders of Rohan).
riven (English) an archaic word meaning 'deeply cut' (from the rare verb 'rive' meaning to cut or tear apart), seen in Rivendell, which is an English translation of Elvish Imladris, 'deeply cut valley'.
ro (Elvish root) from the ancient word roko, 'horse', specifically in the compound roko-kwén, 'horse-person' (that is, a rider). That term was worn down over history to form roquen, 'knight', with roko being reduced uniquely in this case (due to the duplicated k sounds) to a simple ro-.
roh (Sindarin) a form of roch, meaning 'horse', most prominent in the name Rohan, which derives from Rochand, 'horse-land', and also found in the name of Aragorn's horse Roheryn ('horse of the lady'). Related was rohir, meaning 'horse-lord' or 'knight', from which the people of Rohan were named the Rohirrim, 'host of the horse-lords'; the same term appears in Elrohir, which means 'Elf-knight'.
rory (Irish) Apparently an anglicisation of the Irish name Ruaidhrí, meaning 'red king'. Within the context of Tolkien's tales, 'Rory' was an abbreviation of Rorimac (the name of one of the Masters of Buckland) but in reality it appears that the name 'Rory' came first, and was expanded by Tolkien to fit the pattern of names used by the Brandybucks.
roth 1 (Sindarin) a dialectal word for 'cave' (the more usual Sindarin word was rond, a cavern or underground dwelling). The form roth was associated especially with the Elves of Doriath, whose capital was at Menegroth ('Thousand Caves') and the same word apparently appears in Androth, the caverns of Mithrim (not translated, but apparently 'long caves').
roth 2 (Adûnaic) 'sea-foam', seen uniquely in the name Rothinzil 'Foam-flower', a Númenórean translation of Vingilot, the name of the ship of Eärendil. Not to be confused with the common -roth ending in many Elvish names, which is typically derived from a pluralising suffix.
rowan (from Old Norse or an allied language) as the name of a tree, ultimately derived from Old Norse rauðr 'red' (or the equivalent in a related Scandinavian tongue), in reference to the tree's bright red berries. Used as a personal name for the Shire-hobbit Rowan, a great-grandmother of Samwise Gamgee.
rûm (Elvish root) 'secret', 'mystery' and hence rui, 'whisper'. This is speculated by Christopher Tolkien to be the source of the first syllable of the name Rúmil, the loremaster of Tirion who was the inventor of writing (the name was also shared by an Elf of Lórien). The -il ending can have various possible meanings, but most commonly it creates an agental noun from a verb, so Rúmil would mean something like 'whisperer'.

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