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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'.

had (Sindarin) 'throw', 'hurl', of which the only definitely attested example is the name Hador. Literally meaning 'thrower', this refers more specifically to a warrior using thrown weapons such as darts or javelins. The element does is not known to appear elsewhere, although it might conceivably also be present in the (otherwise uninterpreted) name Arahad.
hal(l) (Sindarin) 'tall', 'lofty', and by extension 'superior'; apparently seen in Halbarad ('tall tower', presumably emphasising just how tall Halbarad was), and in Hallatan ('tall Man'). This element does not appear in Haladin, nor in the numerous Hal- names found among that people: those names derived from their own Mannish stems. It may, however, appear in the name of Haldir of Lórien, which can be interpreted as 'tall one'.
hal (Haladin) 'chief', 'leader' among the People of Haleth who dwelt in Brethil. This element appears over and over in the names of the leaders of this people and their kin, with examples including Haldad, Haleth, Haldan, Haldar, Halmir or Haldir. Being from a Mannish tongue, these names are not fully interpretable (and, curiously, Haldad is also interpreted in one source as 'watch-dog'). The same element appears in Haladin, which was at one time considered a name for the leaders of the Men of Brethil, though the term is usually applied to this people as a whole.
haleth (Old English) from hæleþ 'warrior' or 'hero', this is the derivation of the name of Helm's eldest son, slain defending Meduseld. This is not linguistically related to the name of Haleth daughter of Haldad, whose name appears to derive from an early Mannish tongue (though knowledge of the Old English term may have influenced Tolkien's choice of this older name).
hali (Old English) from the Old English hálig, meaning 'holy' or 'sacred'. Seen most prominently in Halifirien, 'holy mountain', where the Tomb of Elendil lay. Halifirien was an approximate translation by the Rohirrim of Amon Anwar, 'Hill of Awe', the original Elvish name of the mountain. Hali- appears in one other place: Halimath 'holy month', the name of the ninth month of the Shire Calendar.
hand (Sindarin) 'intelligent', 'wise', derived from a root khan- meaning 'comprehension', 'understanding'. This word is given as a name element is both Handir (probably simply 'wise man') and Borthand (apparently 'faithful wise'). Despite appearances, it is not present in Rochand, which derives from the unrelated -and, meaning 'region' or 'country'.
hanna (Hebrew) probably from channah, 'grace'. Seen only in Hanna Goldworthy, a Hobbit of the Shire and the only known member of the Goldworthy family. This Hobbit cannot of course have had an actual Hebrew name, so presumably Tolkien's choice of Hanna represents an equivalent concept of 'grace' in the meaning of her real (unknown) name. Hebrew elements were extremely rare in Hobbit-names (indeed Tolkien specifically states that there are no such names from this source). This seems to imply that Hanna simply represents a transliteration of this Hobbit's true name, and that the connection with Hebrew channah is simply coincidental.
har (Sindarin) 'south', most prominent in Harad (simply 'the South') referring to the wide regions that lay southward of Gondor. Between Gondor and the Harad lay Harondor ('South Gondor', or literally 'south stone land') and the border between the two was marked by the river Harnen ('south water'). The name was also used twice for places named Harlond ('south haven'), one to the south of Minas Tirith, and the other in the land of Harlindon ('south Lindon', the southern part of the land of Elves west of the Blue Mountains).
harad (Sindarin) the 'South' as a geographical region. The little-known regions that extended far southward of Gondor were known simply as the Harad ('the South'), subdivided into Near Harad for the more northerly regions, and Far Harad in the more distant South. The people who lived here were known as the Haradrim or Haradwaith, both meaning 'Men of Harad' or 'people of the Harad', with Haradwaith also being used for the lands in which these people lived.
haranyë (Quenya) a period of time, probably referring to a century. There is some small uncertainty over the meaning, as Tolkien's sole discussion of the word leaves its meaning ambiguous. It seems to be offered as a translation of the word 'century', but in context it could also plausibly be read as referring to the last single year of a century, rather than an entire period of one hundred years.
harding (Old English) from hearding 'warrior', 'hero' or 'bold one', deriving in turn from heard, 'hard' or 'strong'. Harding was the name of a Rider of Rohan slain at the Battle of the Pelennor, and was also given to a Hobbit, Harding of the Hill, who was a descendant of Samwise Gamgee.
harrow (from Old English) a modernised form of Old English harg or hærg, meaning a 'temple', 'holy place' or 'sanctuary'. The Old English name Dúnharg meant 'hillside temple', and was modernised by Tolkien to Dunharrow. During the Second Age Dunharrow had been constructed as a temple site of some kind, but its purpose had been forgotten by the end of the Third Age, and the Rohirrim used it as a convenient refuge in the mountains. The old holy site gave its name to the valley on whose side it stood, Harrowdale ('temple valley'), and also to a hamlet in the valley bottom, Underharrow ('beneath the temple').
hathal (Sindarin) 'blade' of a sword or axe, and by extension simply 'axe'. This precise spelling only appears in the name Hathaldir (probably 'axe-man'), but a variation appears among the people of the House of Hador, whose members included Hathol (who was literally titled 'the Axe') and Hatholdir, apparently also meaning 'axe-man'.
hathol (Sindarin) 'cutting blade', especially 'axe', a word that evolved via a circuitous root from the primitive Elvish stem syad-, meaning 'shear' or 'cut'. Hathol (titled 'the Axe') was the name of Hador's father, and the same term appears in Hatholdir ('axe-man'), a descendant of Hador's house who lived during the Second Age. The variant form hathal is found in the name Hathaldir (with the same meaning as Hatholdir, 'axe-man').
haudh (Sindarin) 'mound', especially in the sense of a barrow or grave. The au vowel sound is pronounced like the 'ou' in 'mound', and the dh like 'th' in English 'clothe', so the whole word haudh might be transliterated as something like 'houthe'. The largest of these mounds was raised by the Orcs after the Nirnaeth Arnoediad over their enemies slain in that battle, and was known as Haudh-en-Ndengin ('Hill of Slain') or Haudh-en-Nirnaeth ('Hill of Tears'). Two smaller mounds were associated with the Forest of Brethil: Haudh-en-Arwen ('Ladybarrow', the grave of Haleth), and Haudh-en-Elleth ('Mound of the Elf-maid, the grave of Finduilas). When the twin sons of Folcwine of Rohan were slain in battle, the Gondorians buried them in a mound they named Haudh in Gwanûr, which can be interpreted as either 'mound of the brothers' or 'mound of the twins'.
haven (from Old English) in modern English, 'haven' has the general sense of any place of safety or refuge, but the word derives from Old English hæfen, which was more usually used of harbours or ports (havens, that is, specifically for ships). It is in this older sense that Tolkien tends to use the word, as a translation of Quenya londë or Sindarin lond. Prominent examples include the Swanhaven of Alqualondë in Eldamar, and the Havens of Círdan (Brithombar and Eglarest during the First Age), as well as the Havens of Sirion. During the Second and Third Ages, Círdan maintained the Grey Havens of Mithlond in Lindon. Minas Tirith had its own port, known as the Harlond (which would translate as 'south-haven') while farther south still, the Haven of Umbar was held by the Corsairs that troubled Gondor in the later Third Age.
helm (Old English) originally meaning 'defence' or 'protective covering', and the source of our modern word 'helmet' (literally 'protector'). Seen commonly among the names of the Rohirrim, as in Dernhelm ('hidden helm'), Elfhelm (simply 'Elf helm'), and of course King Helm himself.
hen (Sindarin) 'eye', hence Amon Hen, the 'Hill of the Eye'. The word is also sometimes used in the wider context of seeing or sight (and so Amon Hen is sometimes translated 'Hill of Sight'). The word henneth, 'window', is derived from hên in this broader sense, and literally means 'see-out' or 'see-through'.
henneth (Sindarin) 'window' (ultimately derived from hên 'eye'). Seen in this form only in Henneth Annûn, 'Window of the Sunset', the hidden stronghold of the Rangers of Ithilien.
her(u) (Sindarin) 'lord', 'ruler', 'commander', a common name-ending for kings and lords. Perhaps its most significant appearance is in Herunúmen, 'Lord of the West', a name taken by Adûnakhôr of Númenor in defiance of the Valar. Also in Númenor, Herucalmo was 'lord of light'. Three Kings of Gondor had names including this element: Ciryaher 'ship lord', Ostoher 'fortress lord' and Ondoher 'stone lord'. There was also a Ruling Steward Herion, whose name apparently means 'son of the lord'. This element is not to be confused with heru- and its variants in the names of the Rohirrim, which derive from Old English and are unrelated to this Elvish stem.
herd (archaic English) 'herder', from Old English hierde. This word survives into modern English in 'shepherd' (from Old English sceaphierde, 'sheep herder') and this is used by Tolkien in the phrase 'Shepherds of the Trees' to describe the Ents. Herd in this sense also appears in the compound 'Tree-herds', also used of the Ents.
heryn (archaic Sindarin) 'lady'. Roheryn was the name of Aragorn's horse, which had been a gift from Arwen, with the meaning 'horse of the lady'. The name derived from Sindarin roch 'horse' combined with heruin, an archaic form of the Sindarin for 'lady' in reference to Arwen.
hih (Old English) 'high', seen uniquely in Hihdei, the day name more usually seen in the modern form 'Highday'. This name was used by the Hobbits, but had connections to the original Elves' day of Valanya, 'day of the Powers', so 'High' here refers to the High Ones or Powers of the World, otherwise known as the Valar.
hil (Elvish root) a somewhat obscure name ending that seems to be related to the Elvish for 'follow', and thus by association with the race of Men (for whom one of many Elvish names was Hildor or 'Followers'). In the names Imrahil and Adrahil, though they are not fully explained, the -hil ending may be taken as equivalent to '-man'. The same ending appears in the name of the Elf Edrahil, a name whose precise meaning is unknown, but here the -hil ending may mean either '-man' (in the more general sense of a male person, as Edrahil was not a Man), or perhaps more literally 'follower'. The latter sense is definite in Eluchíl, where the Sindarin form -chíl means 'follower' or 'heir' (with the full name meaning 'successor of Elu' or - the usual translation - 'Thingol's Heir').
hild (Old English) 'war', 'battle'. This was a particularly popular name element amongst the Tooks, and several members of that family had names based on hild: Hildibrand ('battle-sword'), Hildifons ('battle-ready'), Hildigard ('battle-ground') and Hildigrim ('battle-fierce'). Apart from these martial Tooks, a name with a similar derivation is seen in Hilda Bracegirdle. These names dated back to a time when the ancestors of the Hobbits and the Rohirrim dwelt together in the Vales of Anduin, and we see related names among the people of Rohan. Hild was the mother of King Fréaláf Hildeson (whose surname meant simply 'son of Hild'), and Elfhild ('Elf-battle') was queen to King Théoden. Hild in this sense is not related to Hildor or Hildórien, which derive from the Elvish for 'follow' and are entirely unrelated to this Germanic source.
hildor (Quenya) literally 'followers', but generally used by the Elves for the race of Men (who followed them into the world as the Secondborn Children of Ilúvatar). From this usage came Hildórien ('land of the followers'), a name for the far eastern land where Men originated. The word derives from an ancient root khil, 'follow', of which another derivative can be seen in the term tarkil ('High Man'), for one of the Dúnedain.
him (Sindarin) 'continual, permanent'. Probably seen in the name Himring (the hill on which Maedhros' fortress stood, apparently equivalent to 'Ever-cold') and in its derivative Himling (the island formed by that hill after the end of the First Age). This interpretation seems to match the available evidence, but in the linguistic appendix to The Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien suggests as an alternative that this usage may mirror the use of him in the name Himlad, where it means 'cool'.
hir (Sindarin) 'lord' or 'master' (as an individual word, spelt in the accented form hîr). It occurs in three prominent personal names: Gwaihir ('Windlord'), Barahir ('fiery lord') and Elrohir ('Elf-knight', or literally 'Elf-horse-lord'). The form rohir, 'horse-lord', also appears in Rohirrim 'people of the Horse-lords', and the -hirrim ending is also seen in Gonnhirrim, a name for the Dwarves, which means 'people of the masters of stone'. The element hir probably also appears in the names Duinhir, Hirgon and Hirluin, especially as two of these were actually lords, but hir can also mean 'stream', so interpreting these names with certainty is difficult.
hiri (Quenya) 'finder', used only once in a proper name, that of Aldarion's immense vessel Hirilondë, the 'Haven-finder'. Though the Quenya root word for 'find', hir-, is not used in other names, it can be seen in Galadriel's song of farewell to the Company of the Ring, the last line of which contains the phrase Nai elyë hiruva, or 'Be it that even you may find it'.
hísi (Quenya) 'mist, fog' (in full hísië, but only the contraction hísi- is found in any recorded names). Used in the Quenya name Hísilómë ('mist-gloom') given to the cold and shadowed northern land better known by the Sindarin equivalent Hithlum. Also seen in Hísimë 'mist-month', the Quenya name of the eleventh month of the year.
hith (Sindarin) 'mist' or 'fog', seen for example in Hithaeglir ('Misty Mountains'), Hithlum ('Mist-gloom') and Nen Hithoel ('Mist-cool Water'). Also seen in the Sindarin name of the misty month of November, Hithui, and metaphorically in the name of the light, grey material used by the Galadhrim in their ropes: hithlain ('mist-thread').
hither (archaic English) 'on this side' (though the word 'hither' is still in current use, this is an archaic meaning of the word, describing the state of being on the speaker's side of some barrier, especially a river or body of water). Used in Hither Lands and Hither Shore to describe Middle-earth (the land on 'this' - the eastern - side of the Great Sea). In Elvish this expression was Nevrast (from which a coastal land took its name), and its opposite was the 'Far Shore' or Haerast of Aman in the West.
hobbit (derived from Old English) 'hole builder', said to derive from Old English holbytla. This is of course an invented etymology, not only in the sense that Tolkien originated the word 'Hobbit', but also in the sense that the word itself emerged first, and its derivation from Old English was invented afterward. To complicate matters further, Hobbits would not have called themselves 'Hobbits', as they spoke neither modern nor Old English. Rather, 'Hobbit' is an anglicisation representing the Westron word kuduk, itself derived from kûd-dûkan, 'hole-dweller'. As well as referring to Hobbits themselves, this word occurs in numerous compounds, including 'Hobbit-holes', 'Hobbit-lands', 'Hobbit-speech', 'Hobbitry-in-arms' and more. The word is also found in the place-name 'Hobbiton', a settlement in the Shire, which means simply 'Hobbit town'.
hol (Old English) 'hole', particularly in the sense of a Hobbit-hole, and representing the Hobbits' own name smial for their underground dwellings. It is notable as appearing in holbytla, 'hole builder', the invented Old English name from which Tolkien derived 'Hobbit' as a modern form. The same element appears in personal names of several members of the Cotton and Gamgee families, especially as 'Holman' 'one who lives in a hole' in (for example) Holman Cotton or Holman Greenhand. One of Sam Gamgee's grandchildren was named Holfast Gardner, where 'Holfast' meant essentially 'stay-at-home' (or literally 'stay-in-hole').
hold (archaic English) 'refuge', especially if that refuge was fortified in some way. Seen especially in Rohan's Hold of Dunharrow among the White Mountains. Also seen in the compound Orc-hold, a den or stronghold of the Orcs. Note that the Hold- seen in the name Holdwine means 'faithful, loyal', and is not related to this sense of 'refuge'.
hollow (English) this word is used in different Mannish names in slightly different senses, and in the particular case of Hollowbold the etymology is complex. This was a partial translation of the Elvish name for the Dwarf-city usually known as Nogrod, but Nogrod translates as 'Dwarf-dwelling' rather than 'hollow dwelling'. In fact Elvish Nogrod evolved from an older form Novrod, which itself was based on archaic Nába-grota, 'hollow dwelling' (that is, a dwelling carved into the Blue Mountains). The form and meaning of the name changed in Elvish to use an element for 'Dwarf' rather than 'hollow', but the original sense was retained in the name's Mannish form. 'Hollow' also appears in the place-name Crickhollow, but there it has the more usual sense of a depression in the ground (the full meaning of Crickhollow is obscure, but it is interpretable as a mound or small hill rising within a hollow).
hrívë (Quenya) 'winter', both as the name of the season, and of as one of the six annual subdivisions of the calendars of the Elves. The ultimate origins of this word are uncertain, though it may derive from a root meaning 'fading'. Note that the initial h is not pronounced: in transcribed Quenya, the combination hr represents a voiceless or untrilled r sound (a very rare sound in that language) so the whole word hrívë would be pronounced as something like 'ree'veh'.
huan (Elvish root) 'hound'; the same word was used in both Quenya and Sindarin (deriving from an older Quenya form húnen, which in turn had its roots in a base meaning 'bark' or 'bay'). Huan the Hound of Valinor therefore had a name that meant simply 'hound'.
hûr (Sindarin) 'vigour, readiness for action', seen in the name Húrin (in which it is combined with the ending -inn meaning 'inner thought' or 'heart').
hyar(men) (Quenya) 'south' (ultimately derived from the root khyar-, 'left'). A common element in the names of regions in Númenor, particularly the Hyarnustar ('Southwestlands') and the Hyarrostar ('Southeastlands'). The full form hyarmen ('the South' as a place or region) appears in Hyarmendacil ('South-victor') and Hyarmentir ('South-watch').

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