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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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ta (Sindarin) an element designed to represent 'high' or 'lofty' in Sindarin. It occurs uniquely in Taniquetil ('high white peak'), with the intention of keeping the sounds of that mountain's original name while translating that name into meaningful Sindarin elements.
tar (Quenya) literally 'high', 'lofty', seen for example in Tarcil, 'High Man', Tareldar, 'High Elves', or Tarmenel, 'High heaven'. This element often implies royalty, and is often seen in the names of Kings and Queens, particularly the earlier Rulers of Númenor (from Elros Tar-Minyatur to Tar-Ardamin, and latterly Tar-Palantir).
taur (Sindarin) 'forest', usually used for especially large forests. Examples include Taur-e-Ndaedelos ('Forest of the Great Fear'), Taur-en-Faroth ('Forest of the Hunters'), Taur-im-Duinath ('Forest between the Rivers') and Taur-nu-Fuin ('Forest under Nightshade'). Also seen in Tauron ('Lord of Forests'), a title of Oromë. Like the Quenya equivalent taurë, this word originated in a common root tawar-, still seen in occasional names such as Tawarwaith ('Silvan Elves', or literally 'forest people').
telume (Quenya) 'the heavens' envisaged as a dome arching over the Earth, seen in two constellation names: Telumehtar 'swordsman of the heavens' and Telumendil 'devoted to the heavens'.
thain (Modernised Old English) from þegn, a military leader in the service of a king or lord. For historical reasons, in modern English the normal spelling is 'thane', but a direct transliteration of the Old English word would be 'thain', and that is the form preferred by Tolkien. This is the source of the title 'Thain' given to the nominal leader of the Shire (originally a military commander serving in place of the King, but merely titular by the end of the Third Age). The same element is seen in the name Éothain, a follower of Éomer, whose name translates as 'horse-thain' ('thain' here implies that he was himself a commander, but of lesser rank than Éomer).
theo (Old English) 'people', 'folk', derived from Old English théod (which was the common form among the Rohirrim). In this form it appears only in the name of Theobald Bolger, where the -bald element means 'bold', 'daring'.
thoron (Sindarin) 'Eagle' (ultimately derived from a stem thor-, meaning to swoop or leap downwards). The Lord of Eagles in the First Age was Thorondor (derived from Quenya Sorontar, implying 'Eagle king'). Thoron is also seen Thorongil ('Eagle of the Star'), Thorondir (open to interpretation, but apparently 'Eagle Man'), and also in Cirith Thoronath, the 'Eagles' Cleft' north of Gondolin.
thráin (Old Norse) 'one who desires' or 'one who craves'; this is a Dwarf name found in the Old Norse poem Völuspá, deriving ultimately from the verb Þreyja (pronounced approximately 'thraya') meaning to desire something intensely. Tolkien gave the name to two Kings of Durin's Folk: Thráin I who founded Erebor, and Thráin II who was driven out of the Lonely Mountain by Smaug. In his later years, Thráin II conceived a desire to return to Erebor - driven in part by the Ring of Power that he bore - which perhaps accounts for Tolkien's selection of this particular name.
thurin (Sindarin) 'secret', the name chosen for the incognito Túrin in Nargothrond by Finduilas. Also seen in Thuringwethil, 'woman of secret shadow', the name of a bat-like servant of Morgoth.
tol (Elvish root) ultimately from tollo, 'island', used especially to refer to islands with steep shores. Seen in many island names, such as Tol Brandir (probably 'isle of the steep tower'), Tol Eressëa ('Lonely Isle'), Tol Galen ('Green Isle'), Tol Uinen (the isle of Uinen in the bay of Rómenna), Tol-in-Gaurhoth ('Isle of Werewolves') and many others.
took (Anglicised Hobbit-speech) an anglicisation of tûk, supposed by the members of that clan to translate as 'daring' (though there is some doubt about the accuracy of this interpretation). Seen in the family name Took of the Thains of the Shire, as well as the name of at least one related family, the North-tooks, and also in place-names such as Tookbank and Tookland.
tuck (Anglicised Hobbit-speech) a variant rendering of the Hobbit family name Tûk (elsewhere commonly modernised as Took). This element appears only in the name Tuckborough 'fortified place of the Tooks', the chief village of the Tookland in the Shire. The reason for the change in spelling is uncertain, but it is presumably intended to harmonise the word with typical English place-names.
tum (Sindarin) 'valley', used especially of notably deep valleys. Seen in the name Tumladen, translated 'level vale' (that is, a deep valley with a flat and even bottom). The original Tumladen was the wide valley within the Encircling Mountains where Gondolin stood, but the name was also used of a similar but lesser valley in Gondor.

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