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Date of origin unknown. First recorded in III 1050
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  • Updated 11 April 2008
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The Elvish term for Hobbits

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An Elvish name that originated among the Northern Dúnedain to describe a strange people, unusually short of stature, that first appeared west of the Misty Mountains in about the year III 1050. The name derives from the Elvish root per-, 'half', and is usually translated as 'Halflings', though this people preferred to use the name 'Hobbits' for themselves.

The Dúnedain of the earlier Third Age were much taller than in later days, and the first Hobbits they encountered were of the smaller Harfoot variety. This means that the name 'Halfling' was literally accurate when it was first applied: at three to four feet in height, the Hobbits stood on average about half the stature of the tall Men of Arthedain.

The name periannath literally means 'host of the Halflings', and refers to their race as a whole. Like other Sindarin words, the name was subject to mutation, the change of its initial sound based on preceding sounds. Hence, in Gondor Pippin was given the title Ernil i Pheriannath, 'Prince of the Halflings'. An individual member of this people would have been called a perian, and a few together (as opposed to the entire race) would be referred to by the plural form periain.

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