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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'.

e (Sindarin) 'of', seen uniquely in Taur e-Ndaedelos, 'Forest of the Great Fear', an Elvish name for Mirkwood. This is presumably a modification of -i-, which is more usual in this context.
eär (Elvish root) 'sea', most famously seen in the name of Eärendil the Mariner ('devoted to the sea'), but also in a variety of other names, such as Eärendur ('sea servant'), Eärnil (also 'devoted to the sea', from a comparable etymology to Eärendil) or Eärwen 'sea maiden'.
echad (Sindarin) 'camp' in Echad i Sedryn, the 'Camp of the Faithful' on Amon Rûdh. This word presumably shares some part of its etymology with the similar element in Echoriath ('Encircling Mountains') or Rammas Echor ('Wall of the Circle'); that is, it implies a camp encircled by some form of protection.
edain (Sindarin) 'Men', the plural form of adan 'Man'. The word literally means 'Second People' (as opposed the 'Firstborn', the Elves) and though it was sometimes used to refer to the entire race of Men, it was more usually applied to the descendants of the Three Houses of the Edain who allied themselves with the Elves in the Wars of Beleriand. Those Men who settled in Númenor in the Second Age became known as the Dúnedain ('Men of the West'), a name that remained in use even after Númenor itself was destroyed. Edain is also seen in Drúedain, the 'Woses' who dwelt with the Haladin in Brethil, and in Arthedain, 'realm of the Edain'.
egla (Sindarin) 'forsaken', 'abandoned', hence Eglath ('the Forsaken') a name taken by those of the Sindar who were left behind in Beleriand when their fellow Teleri were taken across the Great Sea. From the same origin came Eglador ('land of the Forsaken') the name used of Doriath before the raising of the Girdle of Melian. The name Eglarest, one of the Havens of Falas, had a complex and shifting origin, but at one point it was associated with egla-, in reference to its builders the Falathrim, who belonged to the Forsaken Elves, and in this context the name can be interpreted 'ravine of the Forsaken'. At one point in its evolution, egla had the broader sense of 'Elf' in general, and it was in this sense that it appeared in Egladil ('Elven-point'), the Elvish name for the narrow, angled part of Lórien otherwise known as the Gore or the Naith (both meaning 'spear-point').
eglantine (from Latin) the name of a climbing shrub with pink flowers and a prickled stem, otherwise known as 'sweet briar', the name derives via Old French from Latin aquilentus, 'having many prickles'. The plant itself was found growing wild in Ithilien, and was used as the given name of the Hobbit Eglantine Banks.
eithel (Sindarin) the spring or source of a stream or river, or sometimes a fountain. This word derived etymologically from elements meaning 'out-flow', and is typically translated as 'well'. Eithel Ivrin was the source of the river Narog (where Ivrin is uncertain, but possibly 'fertile'), and Eithel Nínui ('fountain of tears') was said to have been created by the falling tears of Lúthien. The great river Sirion had its source at Eithel Sirion ('well of the great river'), which gave its name in turn to the fortress built there, Barad Eithel ('tower of the well'). The same element appears in Mitheithel, a river that ran through Eriador with a name translated as 'Hoarwell'.
el (Elvish root) 'star'; this the base from which several related words derive, such as poetic elen. Because the Elves were named for the stars (Eldar means 'People of the Stars') el can also mean 'Elf', and the distinction is not always readily apparent (for example, Tolkien himself interpreted the names Elrond and Elros as 'Elf of the cave' and 'Elf of the spray' in one source, but 'star-dome' and 'star-foam' in another). Nonetheless, there are many cases were the meaning is not in doubt, such as Elwë ('star one'; see under ), Elwing ('star-spray'), Elanor (translated 'sun-star', but literally 'star-sun'), Elerrírna ('Crowned with Stars') and Nan Elmoth ('vale of the star pool'). The same element is used figuratively in Elestirnë ('star-brow'), where the 'star' was actually a shining white jewel worn on the forehead.
elda(r) (Elvish root) 'Elves', usually referring to a particular branch of that people. When the Vala Oromë discovered the newly awakened Elves in Middle-earth, he gave them the name Eldar, 'People of the Stars' (from el, 'star'), though in later times the name came to be more specifically attached to those of the Elves who made the Great Journey into the West. (The related term Eldalië retained its broader meaning as a collective name for all Elves.) The singular form for a single Elf was Elda, and the adjective (relating especially to their languages) was Eldarin. From this term derived words like Eldamar ('Elvenhome') or Tareldar ('High Elves'), as well as several place-names associated with the Eldar, such as Mindon Eldaliéva ('tower of the Elves'), Eldalondë ('Elf-haven') and Eldanna ('towards the Eldar'). This element is also seen in the names of certain Men: there were two Kings of the Dúnedain named Eldacar ('Elf helm'), and Aragorn's son and heir was named Eldarion ('descendant of the Eldar', presumably in reference to his Half-elven mother Arwen).
eledh (Sindarin) 'Elf', a variant of edhel, the more usual word in Sindarin, that recalls the etymological origin of the Elves as 'People of the Stars' (the ancient word for 'star' being elen). The form eledh is rare, but appears occasionally in the compound Eledhrim, a name for Elves as a people. In personal names, it occurs uniquely in Morwen's surname Eledhwen, which literally means 'Elf-maiden', but is usually translated 'Elfsheen'.
elen (Quenya) 'star' (said to be a poetic form of the word el). Seen in several names relating to stars, such as Elentári ('Queen of the Stars'), Elentirmo ('Star-watcher') or Elenna ('Starwards'). By association with the Eldar or People of the Stars, elen can often mean 'Elf' rather than 'star', as for example in Elendil ('Elf-friend') or Elendë ('Elvenhome'). In some cases it is difficult to be sure of the intended association; for example, Elendur might in principle mean either 'devoted to the stars' or 'devoted to the Elves' (though the latter seems rather more likely).
eles (Quenya) equivalent to elen, with the final n changed to s for phonetic reasons. The word literally meant 'star', but this is an instance of the confusion between 'star' and 'Elf'. The only specific example of this form is in Elessar, which ought, strictly speaking, mean 'star-stone', but is universally translated as 'Elfstone'. A related element is present in Elestirnë (which comes from ele(n) 'star' and stirnë 'brow') for 'Star-brow'.
elf (Old English) one of several spellings in Old English for a race of folkloric supernatural beings, with other regional variations including ælf and ylfe (with the former being somewhat more prevalent in Anglo-Saxon names). Tolkien chose this term to translate Elda, the name for one of the Firstborn race in his legendarium. Its ultimate origins are hard to disentangle: some sources suggest that it derives from an ancient word for 'white', while others connect it to words meaning 'nightmare'. It also appears in many compound forms, such as Elf-friend (Old English Elfwine), Elf-stone, Elf-cake, Elf-speech, and so on. As a word of Anglo-Saxon origins, it is also seen in various names derived from Mannish tongues, not only Elfwine above, but also Elfhild ('Elf-battle'), Elfhelm ('Elf-protector') and Elfstan ('Elf-stone'). The plural is Elves, and the most common adjectival forms are elven or elvish, though a rare variation elfin is seen in Elfinesse ('land(s) of the Elves').
elu (Sindarin) a 'Sindarisation' of the Quenya name Elwë, meaning essentially 'the one of the stars'. This was the name of the great King of Doriath, Elu Thingol (with Thingol itself being an adaptation of Singollo, 'Greycloak'). Thingol's grandson Dior passed the name to his own sons, who were known as Eluréd ('heir of Elu') and Elurín ('remembrance of Elu'). The same element also appears in Dior's own title Eluchíl, which literally meant 'follower of Elu', but is usually translated 'Thingol's Heir'.
elven (Middle English) from elvene, the genitive plural of Elf, used to describe anything originating from or associated with Elves. Old English did have a word ælfen, but that was a noun meaning a female fairy or nymph, hence Middle English Elvenland, meaning 'fairyland'. Its use as an adjective was extremely rare before its adoption by Tolkien (Old English used ælfisc, hence 'Elvish' was the more usual later English word, a word that Tolkien used most commonly for languages). Elven appears in various compounds, including Elvenesse, Elvenhome and Elvenland (all referring to the homeland of the Elves in the West), Elvendom (a general term for those places under the influence of the Elves) and Elvenking (in principle any king of the Elves, though in this form used specifically for Thranduil of Mirkwood). Examples of hyphenated forms are numerous, including terms like Elven-folk, Elven-rings, Elven-halls, Elven-tongue and many, many others.
emel (Sindarin) 'mother', a rare name element seen only in Emeldir the name of Beren's mother. Often called the 'Manhearted', Emeldir's name seems to translate literally as 'man-mother'.
emyn (Sindarin) the plural of amon, 'hill', used in the names of ranges of hills or downs throughout Middle-earth. Examples include Emyn Arnen (approximately 'hills of Ithilien'), Emyn Beraid ('Tower Hills', incorporating the plural of barad, 'tower') and Emyn Uial ('Hills of Evendim'). The word emyn would normally be pronounced 'emoon', though the Gondorian pronunciation differed, so that in (for example) the Emyn Arnen of Gondor, the word would have sounded more like 'emeen'.
endis (Elvish root) 'wife', 'bride'. The usual form was indis, which was an intensified form of ndis, 'woman', but in the name Erendis ('lonely wife') the initial vowel sound i mutates into an e. The full spelling indis can be seen in the subtitle of Erendis' tale, Indis i·Kiryamo, which translates as 'The Mariner's Wife'.
ent (Old English) 'giant', 'mighty ancient one' preserved in Anglo-Saxon phrases such as eald enta geweorc ('ancient works of giants'), which probably originally referred to the Roman ruins found in Saxon England. Tolkien used the word as the name of a race of ancient Tree-herds, called the Ents by the Rohirrim (and the Onodrim by the Elves). This element is found in many combinations, especially the names of the lost Entmaidens, Entwives and Entings (that is, young Ents), as well as Entish (the name of the Ents' language), Ent-draughts, Ent-houses, Ent-strides and so on. The same element is also seen in several place names associated with the Ents, hence Entwood (that is, Fangorn Forest), Entwash ('flooding river of the Ents') and Entwade (a ford of the Entwash not far from Edoras).
enyd (Sindarin) the plural of onod, the word translated by Tolkien using the Old English Ent. Enyd would be used for a group of several Ents, but the collective plural for the entire race was Onodrim ('Ent people').
éo (Old English) 'horse', used especially of cavalry horses or warhorses. This was a very common name element, as might be expected, among the Rohirrim, who indeed descended from a people known as the Éothéod or 'horse people'. Personal names derived from this element include Éomer (probably 'horse-famous'), Éowyn ('horse joy' or 'horse delight'), Éomund ('horse protector') and Éothain ('horse warrior'). The same word appears in terms used by the Rohirrim for units of their military: an éored (literally a 'horse-riding') was a troop of one hundred and twenty Riders, while an éoherë ('horse host') was a fully mustered army of horsemen. The founder and first King of Rohan was named Eorl but note that, despite appearances, his name is not directly related to éo for 'horse', and instead means 'nobleman'.
eofor (Old English) 'boar', the name of the third son of King Brego of Rohan, a distant ancestor Éomer. The related form ever appears in Everholt, 'boar wood'.
ephel (Sindarin) 'fence', specifically referring to an 'outer' or 'surrounding' fence. Used in a literal sense in Ephel Brandir, the fenced fortification of Brandir on Amon Obel in Brethil, also sometimes called simply 'the Ephel'. The same element is used figuratively in Ephel Dúath, 'fence of shadow', the chain of mountains that bordered Mordor to the west.
er 1 (Elvish root) 'lone', 'single', denoting unique beings or things, or those that stand apart from others. From this derives the name Eru, meaning simply 'the One', the creator of Arda. Several familiar names incorporate this element, including Erebor the 'Lonely Mountain' and Eriador the 'Lone-lands'. Tol Eressëa, the island of the Eldar in the West, had a name that meant the 'Lonely Isle', while Erendis, the estranged Queen to Tar-Aldarion, had a name that literally meant 'lonely wife'. While loneliness is part of the meaning of this root, it can also refer to simple singularity, so for example Erui, a short river in Gondor, got its name simply because it lacked any tributaries.
er 2 (Old English) a contraction of 'erd', meaning 'earth', found solely in the Hobbit-name 'Erling' (earlier spelt 'Erdling'). That name literally translates as 'earthling', in the sense of one who worked with the earth. In Old English this usually indicated a farmer or especially a ploughman, though given Erling's family traditions it more likely suggests 'gardener' in his particular case. Note that this element is not to be confused with the Elvish prefix er-, indicating a single or lonely thing.
ereb (Sindarin) 'alone, lonely', derived from a more general Elvish root er- for things that stood singly or alone (see er 1 above). Amon Ereb was a lone hill that rose out of the plains of East Beleriand, and the same element occurs in Erebor, the Elvish name for the Lonely Mountain of the Dwarves.
ered (Sindarin) the plural of orod, 'mountain', used very frequently in the names of mountain ranges. Examples include Ered Luin ('Blue Mountains') and their alternative name Ered Lindon ('Mountains of Lindon'), as well as Ered Engrin ('Iron Mountains'), Ered Wethrin ('Mountains of Shadow'), and Ered Nimrais (the Elvish name for the White Mountains, which translates literally as 'White-horned Mountains').
eria (Silvan Elvish) 'lonely, alone, isolated', a Silvan variant of the Quenya adjective erya, 'sole, alone'. The name Eriador for the lands westward of the Misty Mountains was said to derive from a Silvan dialect, with the literal meaning 'lonely land', and it is evidently equivalent to the region known as the 'Lone-lands'.
erthad (Sindarin) 'uniting', derived from the Sindarin verb ertha-, 'unite'. With the prefix ad- this became aderthad, 'reuniting', in the Mereth Aderthad, the 'Feast of Reuniting' held by High King Fingolfin soon after the Return of the Noldor.
esse See nesse.
estirnë (Quenya) 'brow' or 'forehead', in Elestirnë ('star-brow') and Tar-Elestirnë ('Lady of the Star-brow'), titles given to Erendis for her habit of wearing a shining jewel on her forehead. Note that this meaning is not independently attested, and is inferred from its appearance in Elestirnë, the only known name to use this element.
et (archaic English from Old French) a diminutive ending, used in forming the names of small or young animals, as for example 'leveret' (a young hare), 'eaglet' (a young eagle) or 'piglet' (a young pig). Tolkien uses this pattern to form the word 'Dragonet', a name for a young Dragon.
eth (Sindarin) a feminine name-ending, which might be translated 'woman' or 'maiden' depending on the context. The most prominent example is probably Ioreth, an 'old woman' of Minas Tirith, and the element also appears in Haudh-en-Elleth ('Mound of the Elf-maid'). The ending -eth can carry various other meanings, and so (for example), names like Nirnaeth or Neldoreth have entirely separate derivations. This means that interpreting names ending in -eth can be difficult (for example, Núneth is probably 'western woman', but this is uncertain). One curious case is bereth, 'queen' (as in Elbereth, 'star-queen' or 'star-lady') which we might expect to incorporate the feminine ending -eth, but in fact descends from a quite distinct etymological source.
ethir (Sindarin) translated 'spy', though the literal meaning seems to be closer to 'lookout'. This word apparently derives from a compound like et-tîr, to 'watch out' or 'look out'. It appears uniquely in Amon Ethir, the 'Spyhill' raised by Finrod to watch the approaches to his city of Nargothrond. Ethir in this sense is not to be confused with the Elvish word for a river-mouth (notably in Ethir Anduin, the 'Mouths of Anduin') which has a separate derivation.
even (archaic English) 'evening' (from Old English æfen). In Evendim it referred to 'evening twilight' (a partial translation of Elvish uial), and the poetic name Evereven ('forever twilight') had a similar derivation. Arwen's surname Evenstar meant 'evening star', symbolising not only the 'twilight' years of the Elves in Middle-earth, but also connecting her to her grandfather Eärendil and the Silmaril he bore.
ey (Old English) a modernised spelling of eg or īeg, meaning 'island' (and 'island' itself derives from Old English iegland). From ey derives the word eyot for a small island, especially one in a river (as for example at the Fords of Isen). This word appears in the name Rushey ('isle of rushes'), a village on a stand of dry land amid the bogs of the Shire's Marish. It possibly also appears in Girdley, the name of an island in the Brandywine river (this name is not explained, but is perhaps 'girdled isle' - that is, it was 'girdled' by the waters of the river).

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