The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Uncertain, but predated the first historical records of Hobbits in III 1050
Location
Especially associated with the Shire, and other regions occupied by Hobbits
Race
Settlements
Numerous, but important examples include Bag End, Brandy Hall, Great Smials and the Town Hole of Michel Delving
Pronunciation
Uncertain1
Meaning
'Burrows'
Other names

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About this entry:

  • Updated 28 September 2014
  • Updates planned: 1

Smials

The Hobbits’ name for their holes

The term the Hobbits themselves used for their excavated dwellings, more usually called simply 'Hobbit-holes'.


Notes

1

The intended pronunciation of the word smial is unclear, and there are two possible approaches. Etymologically, the word represents a modernisation of the two-syllable Old English word smygel. That, and the fact that ia is not usually a diphthong in either Old English or modern English, could be taken to imply that smial should be pronounced with two separate vowel sounds as something like 'smy-al'.

On the other hand, we have an alternative spelling in unpublished material written for Appendix F to The Lord of the Rings, where Tolkien discusses his coinage of the word '...smial (or smile if you prefer it so)...' (from The History of Middle-earth volume XII, Part One, II The Appendix on Languages). Indeed, in some early versions of the text smial is actually spelt smile, implying that it should be pronounced with a single vowel sound like the English word 'smile'.

On the whole, the latter option (that is, a pronunciation like the English word 'smile') seems to be the better supported, but an argument could be at least offered for using either approach.

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 28 September 2014
  • Updates planned: 1

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