The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dwelt at Edoras during his time as counsellor to Théoden
Literally 'Snake'1
Other names
Title of


About this entry:

  • Updated 21 March 2017
  • Updates planned: 1


Saruman’s name for Gríma

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond

A term of contempt that Saruman used in the Shire to mock his servant Gríma. It seems to derive from 'Wormtongue', the name Gríma was given in Rohan because of his insidious control over the King there. Long afterwards in the Shire, Saruman's sneering became too much for Gríma to bear, and he cut the throat of his cruel master.



Gríma's nickname in Rohan, Wormtongue, comes from Old English wyrm-tunga, meaning 'snake-tongued' (that is, devious and untrustworthy). Saruman's use of just the first element, from wyrm, would literally translate as 'snake', though in context Gríma had by this time become weak and subservient, and the insult may well have been intended in the modern sense of 'worm'.

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Website services kindly sponsored by Axiom Software Ltd.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 2007, 2016-2017. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.