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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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ainu (Quenya) 'holy one' (from aina, 'holy'); an Ainu was one of the Holy Ones created by Eru Ilúvatar (with the plural being Ainur). Related is Ainulindalë ('Music of the Ainur'), the Great Song through which the universe was brought into being.
alata (Quenya) 'radiance', seen in Galadriel's Quenya name Alatáriel ('radiant-garlanded maiden'), and also possibly in Alatar, a name for one of the little-known Blue Wizards.
alda (Quenya) 'tree', naturally common in tree names such as culumalda ('red-golden tree') or Malinalda (the 'Golden Tree' of Valinor), and also seen in Aldalómë ('tree-twilight', a name for Fangorn Forest). The plural form was aldar, seen in Nísimaldar ('Fragrant Trees') as well as several tree-related personal names and titles (such as Aldaron and Aldarion, both meaning '(Lord) of Trees').
an(d) (Sindarin) 'long', ultimately derived from an ancient form andá, and seen as both and and ann in Sindarin. Common in place-names such as Andram ('Long Wall'), Andrast ('long horn'), Anduin ('long river') or Anfalas ('long shore'). This element is also seen in the Elvish name for the Longbeard Dwarves, which was Anfangrim. Certain terms from writing also used the an- prefix, as in Angerthas ('long rune rows') or Andaith ('long mark').
andúnië (Quenya) 'sunset', from an original root ndú- meaning 'sink' or 'go down', and associated with the West as the direction of the sunset. The word gave its name to a city and port in Númenor, named Andúnië because it stood on the western shores of the island.
ang (Sindarin) 'iron', prominent in the name of Morgoth's fortress of Angband ('Hells of Iron'), and also in names such as Anghabar ('iron mine'), Anglachel ('iron of the flaming star'), Angrist ('iron cutter') or Gurthang ('Iron of Death'). The genitive form is angren ('of iron'), which was the Sindarin name of the River Isen, also found in Carach Angren ('jaws of iron') in Mordor. The plural form was eng, as in Ered Engrin ('Iron Mountains'). The related Quenya form was anga, as in Angamaitë ('iron fist') and Angaráto ('iron champion'), the son of Finarfin whose name was translated into Sindarin as Angrod.
annon (Sindarin) 'gate', used most prominently in Morannon, the 'Black Gate' of Mordor, and also in Annon-in-Gelydh, the 'Gate of the Noldor' in Nevrast. Gandalf referred to the West-gate of Moria as annon edhellen, 'gate of the Elves' (The Fellowship of the Ring II 4), and the stream that ran from that gate was called the 'Gate-stream', or Sirannon in Elvish.
anor (Sindarin) 'the Sun', after which a day of the week was named Oranor ('Sunday'). Elendil's second son was named Anárion (incorporating anar, the Quenya equivalent of anor), and from his association with the Sun came the name of his tower Minas Anor ('Tower of the Sun'), and Anórien ('Sunland') where the tower stood. The same element is seen in the flower name elanor, translated 'sun-star', after which Sam Gamgee named his eldest daughter.
ar(a) (Elvish root) 'noble, royal', a very common element in the names of both people and places, as for example Arwen ('noble maiden'), Arnor ('royal land'), Armenelos ('royal fortress of the heavens'), Aredhel Ar-Feiniel ('noble Elf, noble White Lady') and many others besides. Ar- was adopted into Adûnaic, where it formed the royal prefix of the later Kings of Númenor, from Ar-Adûnakhôr ('King, Lord of the West') onwards. It was also used as a royal prefix by the Kings of Arthedain from the time of Argeleb I (probably 'silver king'), and this usage was continued by the Chieftains of the Dúnedain down to the time of Aragorn II ('kingly valour').
arda (Quenya) 'bounded region' or 'realm', prominently used as a name for the whole World (and thus implying that the World is the 'realm' of Manwë the Elder King). It also appears in a few derived names, such as Ardamir ('Jewel of the World'). The Sindarin equivalent is gardh, seen only in Lisgardh, the land of reeds at the Mouths of Sirion.
arken (Old English) a modernisation of Old English eorcan, meaning 'holy', in the name of the Arkenstone, the glittering jewel of Erebor (it's notable that the Old English name for the Silmarils is given as eorclanstánas, 'holy stones', which would follow an identical derivation to Arkenstone). A closely related root seems to appear in the name Erkenbrand (possibly meaning 'precious - or possibly even holy - sword').

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