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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'.

dacil (Sindarin) 'victor', a term chosen by various Kings of Gondor to commemorate important military victories. The tradition was started in the year III 500, when King Tarostar defeated invading Easterlings, and thereafter became known as Rómendacil ('East-victor'). Some five centuries later, King Ciryaher won a decisive victory over the Haradrim, and took the name Hyarmendacil ('South-victor'). There were two further Kings who would take names of the same pattern (Rómendacil II and Hyarmendacil II), and finally King Telumehtar took the surname Umbardacil after he led Gondor's reconquest of Umbar in III 1810.
dagor (Sindarin) 'battle' (or literally 'slaughter'), used in the Elvish names of some of the most important battles in history: Dagor-nuin-Giliath ('Battle-under-Stars'), Dagor Aglareb ('Glorious Battle'), Dagor Bragollach ('Battle of Sudden Flame'), and also seen in the name of the prophesied climactic battle for the world itself Dagor Dagorath, (usually translated 'Last Battle', but more literally 'Battle of Battles'). Also in the name Dagorlad, 'Battle Plain', taken from the great Battle of Dagorlad fought there during the War of the Last Alliance.
dáin (Old Norse) 'dead'; Tolkien appears to have taken this name from the Norse deity Dáinn (a Dwarf god in some traditions). It was used by two Kings of Durin's Folk, an earlier Dáin I and his more famous successor and heir to Thorin Oakenshield, Dáin II Ironfoot.
dale (from Old English) 'valley', used especially of a wide valley with a flat bottom, a word that derives from Old English dæl, and is related to Old Norse dalr. The most prominent use of this element is for the town of Dale, which lay in a valley between two ridges of the Lonely Mountain. Other uses generally represent names from the language of Rohan, as in East Dales (the valleys of Eastfold), Harrowdale (the 'temple valley' beneath Dunharrow) or Firien-dale (literally a 'mountain valley' running southward of the Halifirien). There are also a handful of other instances used independently of the Rohirrim, such as the Ettendales (the 'troll valleys' north of Rivendell) and the Dimrill Dale ('valley of shadowed streams'). The word dale shares a common but distant etymological origin with dell, as in Rivendell ('deeply cut valley').
dath (Sindarin) 'down', from a root dat- meaning 'fall down'. In this form it is seen solely in the name Rhimdath or 'Rushdown', referring to a northern tributary stream of the Great River Anduin.
deep (archaic English) simply 'deep place' (from Old English déop, usually referring to a valley). In Helm's Deep it refers to the narrow gorge guarded by the Hornburg, and places connected with the gorge used the associative form Deeping (Old English déoping), as in Deeping-coomb, the wide valley that led to the gorge. The meaning of the same element in Deephallow is less clear, but probably refers to low-lying land surrounded by slopes. The same word was used in naming the underground levels within Khazad-dûm, which were known as the First Deep, Second Deep, Third Deep and so on, counting downwards from ground level. In Old English, the opposite to déop was undéop, 'shallow', hence the 'Undeeps' (or shallows) of Anduin south of the Field of Celebrant.
dei (Germanic) 'day' as a period of time; this form is related to Old English, but in that language 'day' is dæg. Tolkien seems to have derived dei from Old Frisian, a sister language to Old English, perhaps to represent the divergence of the Shire-hobbits' speech from that of the upper Vales of Anduin where they had originated. This element appears in the seven ancient day-names used by the Hobbits: Sterrendei, Sunnendei, Monendei, Trewesdei, Hevenesdei, Meresdei and Hihdei. These seven days were dedicated (in sequence) to the stars, the Sun, the Moon, the Two Trees, the heavens, the Sea and the Valar. The old form dei evolved over the centuries, and its later style at the time of the War of the Ring is represented by modern English 'day'. So, for example, the old form Sunnendei, the day of the Sun, became simply 'Sunday'.
delving (archaic English) 'digging, excavation' found in the names of two towns in the Shire, Michel Delving ('great excavation') and Little Delving ('little excavation'), whose names were no doubt related to the Hobbits' habit of creating holes for themselves. The word derives from the Old English delf, which can also be seen in the Shire, in Standelf 'stone digging', as well as farther afield in Dwarrowdelf, 'Dwarf-digging', a Mannish name for Khazad-dûm.
déor (Old English) 'brave, bold'. Historically the word originated as meaning 'wild beast' (hence modern English deer), and evolved to describe a person who was as brave or ferocious as a beast. The word is used directly in the name of Déor the seventh King of Rohan, and also appears in Déorwine ('brave friend'), the name of a soldier of Rohan who fought in the War of the Ring.
der (Elvish root) 'man', 'adult male', probably seen in the names Dervorin and Derufin. The full derivations of these two names are unclear; Dervorin is probably 'faithful man', while Derufin seems to contain the element fin, 'hair'.
diggle (ultimately from Old French) at least as a modern surname, Diggle is a double diminutive form of Richard (deriving via the common abbreviation Dick), with Richard coming from Old French and meaning 'powerful' or 'brave'. Whether this real derivation applies to the Hobbit family name Diggle is questionable (very few Hobbit-names have even indirect French origins) and it was perhaps chosen for the punning use of 'dig', a suitable element in a name for the hole-dwelling Hobbits.
dim (archaic English) 'obscured', 'overshadowed' (and by extension 'secret') in Dimrill Dale ('valley of shadowed streams'), and Dimholt 'dark/secret wood'. Also seen in the expressions morrowdim and evendim, the twilight of morning and evening, respectively (with Evendim also used as the name of a region). This usage of dim only occurs in Mannish names, and is not to be confused with the unrelated Elvish elements in Dimbar or Dimrost.
dír (Sindarin) 'man' in the broad sense of a male person, not necessarily a member of the race of Men, so the word could be used of (for instance) and Elf or a Vala. The term is used of the battle formation known as a dírnaith ('man-spearhead') and also in the personal name Dírhael ('wise man'). It may also seen in the names Amdír and Dírhavel, though in both of these cases the interpretation is uncertain, and the dír element may derive from some other source. This element may also appear in Emeldir, equivalent to (but perhaps not a direct translation of) 'Manhearted'.
dol (Sindarin) literally 'head', and used in this sense in Hador's surname Lúrindol ('Goldenhead' in reference to his golden hair). Dol is, however, much more commonly used in a metaphorical sense for a prominent geographical feature. In Dol Amroth (literally 'Amroth's head'), the word apparently refers to a raised headland, but in all other cases the intended meaning is 'hill' (or 'hilltop' or 'mountain'). The numerous examples of this include Dol Baran ('brown hill'), Dol Guldur ('hill of dark magic'), Dolmed (glossed 'wet head', for a rain-soaked mountain), Nardol ('Fire-hilltop') and Mindolluin ('towering blue-head'). The name Cardolan is not directly explained, but possibly contains dol in this sense, with the overall meaning of 'red hill land'. The mutated variant dhol is seen in the name of the mountain Fanuidhol ('Cloudyhead').
dolin (Sindarin) a form of dolen, meaning 'hidden'. The original Quenya name for the city of Gondolin was Ondolindë ('Rock of the Music of Water'), and the sounds of this name were adapted into Sindarin form as the more familiar Gondolin, which was interpreted as gond dolen, 'Hidden Rock'. Because of this unique etymology, the element dolin is only seen as part of the name Gondolin.
dor (Sindarin) 'land', 'occupied region'. An extremely common element of place-names, including the names of some very prominent lands such as Gondor ('land of stone'), Mordor ('Black Land'), Eriador ('Lone-lands') and Endor (an Elvish name for the whole of Middle-earth, literally meaning 'middle land'). The collection of other names including this element is extensive, with other common examples being Doriath ('land of the fence'), Andor ('Land of Gift'), Dorthonion ('land of pines'), Dor-en-Ernil ('Land of the Prince'), Dor-lómin ('land of echoes') and numerous others. Confusingly, a -dor ending can often also be seen in the names of peoples or individuals (with examples like Noldor, Nandor, Galador or Hador). These cases aren't connected to the interpretation 'land'; the -dor is generally a grammatical formation such as a plural (as in Noldor, the plural form of Noldo) or an agental ending (as in Hador, a 'thrower' of darts and missiles).
dora (Greek) as a modern name, Dora comes from dōron 'gift', but this resemblance to a recognisable name is said to have been coincidental, and so Dora Baggins actually had this name (of unknown derivation) in the Shire. The only change made by Tolkien is to give the name a familiar feminine -a ending, whereas the original would have been either Dore or Doro.
dore (Old English) 'tree', especially in the compound apuldor, hence appledore, an old word for an apple-tree. Appledore was the name of a family among the Men of Bree.
dori (Old Norse) in the form dóri, one of the names in the long list of Dwarves known as the Dvergatal, a late addition to the Völuspá. The name given by Tolkien to one of the companions of Thorin on the Quest of Erebor. Its interpretation is highly uncertain, and sources vary considerably, with some suggesting 'boring tool', and others 'spear' or 'peg', while yet others suggest a connection to Old Norse dari, 'fool'. Note that this Old Norse origin applies only to the Dwarf named Dori; despite the superficial similarity, the land of Doriath in Beleriand had a quite distinct Elvish etymology.
drake (archaic English) 'Dragon', from Old English draca, 'Dragon, monster, serpent' (ultimately from Greek drakon, 'serpent', which is also the source of the word 'Dragon' itself). Used by Tolkien in compound words naming particular types of Dragon, especially Cold-drakes and Fire-drakes.
drambor (Noldorin) from a root word meaning either 'blow' or 'hew with an axe', drambor is defined as a clenched fist, or a blow made with a clenched fist. It occurs only in Dramborleg, the name of Tuor's famous axe, and there its meaning is more broad, translating as the 'thudder' in 'Thudder-Sharp'.
drû (Sindarin) a name for one the mysterious Wild Men of the Woods, also called Woses or Púkel-men, taken from their own name for themselves, Drughu, of unknown meaning. As foes of the Orcs in the First Age, these people were considered to be part of the Edain, and thus acquired then name Drúedain. This element occurs in various place-names relating to these strange people, such as the Drúadan Forest (simply 'forest of the Drúedain') and Drúwaith Iaur ('Old Púkel-land'). The plural forms of Drû were either Drúin (for several Drúedain) or Drúath (for the entire people as a whole). In Quenya this word is rendered in the rarely seen form .
du (Sindarin) 'dark', 'shadowed', in Nanduhirion, 'valley of dim streams', the Elvish name for the Dimrill Dale. This element may also appear in duilin, a Sindarin word for a nightingale, in which context dui- apparently means 'dusk' (and so the whole name may mean 'dusk-singer', as does its Quenya equivalent lómenlindë).
duin (Sindarin) 'river', especially (though not exclusively) a long or important river. This element, which is pronounced 'doo-in', is found most prominently in the name of the Great River Anduin (literally 'long river'), but there are also numerous other examples. These include Baranduin ('golden brown river'), Celduin ('Running River'), Esgalduin ('hidden river'), Glanduin ('border river'), Malduin ('?golden river') and Morgulduin (a stream running out of the Morgul Vale). The same element appears in Taur-im-Duinath ('Forest between the Rivers') where duinath implies 'two rivers'. Duin in this sense may also appear in the personal name Duinhir (which is not explained, but is interpretable as 'river lord'). A variant on duin was duil, seen in Duilwen ('?green river'), one of the Seven Rivers of Ossir. The Quenya equivalent of duin was duinë, as in Nunduinë ('?western river') a river that flowed through Númenor.
duir (Sindarin) a form of dûr, 'dark' used in plural names. This plural form is found in Emyn Duir (literally 'dark hills' but translated as the 'Dark Mountains'), a name for the range later known as the Mountains of Mirkwood.
dun 1 (Old English) from dunn 'dark brown, brown-black', representing a word in the language of the Rohirrim used to name the Dunlendings (who were dark-skinned and dark-haired), their home of Dunland and their language Dunlendish. This element appears only in those names, and is not to be confused with the dun- in Dunharrow (which means 'hill') or the common Elvish dûn, meaning 'west'.
dun 2 (Old English) from dún 'hill, mountain', seen in Dunharrow (modernised from Dúnharg, Dúnhærg, 'hillside temple' - Dunharrow was built on the site of an ancient holy place). A form of this old word survives into modern use as 'down' for a low rounded hill, and 'dune' for a ridge of sand is also connected, though less directly. Not to be confused with the dun- in Dunland, which is also from Old English, but has a quite distinct meaning (see dun 1 above).
dún (Sindarin) 'west', seen in this form only in Dúnedain ('Men of the West') and its singular Dúnadan. This element derives from the same root as annûn ('sunset', implying 'west') seen for example in Henneth Annûn ('Window of the Sunset'). The names Dúnharg and Dúnhere are derived from Old English, and do not contain this element.
dur (Elvish root) originally meant 'servant' (or literally 'one who bows down'), and this original meaning is retained in Arandur, 'King's servant', the Elvish title used in Gondor that is translated as 'Steward'. In personal names it more usually indicates devotion or dedication, giving names like Isildur ('devoted to the Moon'), Meneldur ('devoted to the heavens') or Elendur, ('devoted to the stars'). Not all examples relate to the celestial regions; Cemendur apparently meant 'devoted to the Earth', while the meaning of Pelendur's name is uncertain, but perhaps relates to the Pelennor Fields. A variant form with preceding -n- is seen in cases where it is phonetically necessary, producing names like Eärendur ('devoted to the Sea') or Valandur, 'devoted to the Valar or Powers'). Dur in this context is not to be confused with dûr meaning 'dark', so for example, Dol Guldur means 'hill of dark magic', and not 'hill of the magic servant'.

dûr (Sindarin) 'dark', but specifically referring to the darkness of night or of shadow (the word derived from an old Elvish root doʒ, 'nightshade' or 'gloom'). By far the most prominent use of this element is in Barad-dûr, the 'Dark Tower' of Sauron in Mordor (the name was doubtless influenced by the fact that the tower was usually surrounded by a veil of Shadow). Dûr is rarely seen elsewhere, but it does seem to occur in Caragdûr (apparently 'dark rock-spike'), the name of a precipice beneath the city of Gondolin. A plural form appears in Emyn Duir, 'Dark Mountains', an old name for the Mountains of Mirkwood.
durin (Old Norse) a proper noun; one of the Dwarves named in the Völuspá (and there spelt Durinn). The interpretation is uncertain, but Tolkien suggests that it came from a word in the language of the Northmen meaning simply 'king'. This would indeed be appropriate (it was the name of the founding King of Durin's Folk, and used as a royal name thereafter), but it is unclear whether this was the intended meaning of the original Old Norse Durinn. The name may originally have meant 'one who sleeps', which would also be appropriate for Tolkien's Durin, who slept for many centuries until after the Elves had awoken in Middle-earth. The same name was also borne by six descendants of the original Durin, and appears in numerous related forms (Durin's Axe, Durin's Bridge, Durin's Folk, Durin's House, Durin's Stone, Durin's Tower, and many others besides).
dwalin (Old Norse) a name that appears in the Dvergatal of the Völuspá in the phrase dverga í Dvalins liði, 'Dwarves of Dwalin's line'. It appears in the poem as a proper name, but it can be interpreted as 'dawdler' or 'delayer'. From this Old Norse poem, Tolkien selected the name for one of the Dwarves who made up Thorin's Company on the Quest of Erebor.
dwarf (English) used by Tolkien specifically in reference to the short, bearded race of beings who referred to themselves as Khazâd (singular Khuzd); they had various names in Elvish, with the most common being Naugrim ('Stunted People'). The English word dwarf derives from Old English dweorg or dweorh, which was used for supernatural beings of short stature. The original formal plural of dwarf was dwarfs, but Tolkien's preferred plural was dwarves, and this now appears as a valid alternative in many dictionaries. The language of this people was Dwarvish (representing a translation of their own word Khuzdul). 'Dwarf' is used in a wide range of compounds, including terms like 'Dwarf-kind', 'Dwarf-cities', 'Dwarf-lords', 'Dwarf-doors' and many others besides. Petty-dwarves were a people found in Beleriand of even smaller stature than typical Dwarves. The Middle English word for 'dwarf' was dwarrow, and that form of the word can be seen in Dwarrowdelf ('Dwarf-delving'), a Mannish name for the Dwarf-city of Khazad-dûm.
dwarrow (Middle English) 'Dwarf'; formally seen only in the plural dwarrows, which emerged from Old English dweorgas as the plural of dweorg, 'Dwarf'. This archaic term appears only in Dwarrowdelf ('Dwarf-mine' or 'Dwarf-delving') which represents a translation of Phurunargian, the old Mannish name for Khazad-dûm.

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