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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'.

lad (Sindarin) 'plain', 'wide land', used for large, flat regions of land. Examples include Dagorlad ('Battle Plain'), Estolad (translated the 'Encampment' but literally 'camp plain'), Himlad ('cool plain'), Ladros ('plain of ?dew') or Lithlad ('ash plain'). It probably also appears in Tumhalad, though the derivation of this name is uncertain (it apparently refers to a deep valley running through a plain). A prominent derivative form was imlad ('between-plain'), a flat plain-like valley bottom with steep walls, as for example in Imladris (Rivendell). Where a plain had been purposefully cleared, the word laden was used, as for example in Tumladen, the hidden valley where Gondolin stood. Note that this element is not present in names ending -galad, a word with two possible derivations, neither of which is related to lad in the sense of 'plain'.
lan(ta), lan(të) (Elvish root) 'fall', 'fallen', notably in Atalantë, 'The Downfallen', a name used of Númenor after the Downfall, and in Noldolantë, the 'Fall of the Noldor', a lament for his people made by Maglor. A related form appears in Lasse-lanta, 'leaf-fall', an Elvish name for late autumn. The same root appears in lanthir, 'waterfall' (where thir is a river or flow of water). Lanthir appears in the name Lanthir Lamath, translated as 'waterfall of echoing voices'.
largo (Italian) 'large' (also used as a musical term for 'slow' or 'broad'); it is unclear whether this is intended in any sense as the meaning of the Hobbit-name Largo (Largo Baggins was an ancestor of Frodo), but it would be a suitable punning use for a Hobbit of the Shire.
láth (Old English) from lāð, a word covering a range of related ideas from 'injury' to 'grief' to 'injustice' to 'evil'. It was often used as prefix to form negative compound words; so, for example, searu ('skill' or 'craft' in the name Saruman) had a modified version lāðsearu for one who devised evil plots. The only instance of this word used by Tolkien is in Láthspell, the name given to Gandalf by Gríma Wormtongue, and interpreted by him as 'Ill-news'. This comes from Old English lāðspel, 'bad news' or 'sad tidings' (and is incidentally the direct opposite of gospel, which means 'good news').
léod (Old English) 'chief' or 'prince', seen only in the name of Léod, Lord of the Éothéod and father of Eorl the Young.
lin(d) (Elvish root) 'sing', 'chant', 'create music'. Its most prominent use is probably in the name Lindon ('land of music'), named for the singing of the Elves who lived there in the First Age. The same element appears in numerous other names, including Ainulindalë ('Music of the Ainur'), Lindar ('the Singers'), Ondolindë ('Rock of the Music of Water') and lómelindi ('dusk-singers', the Elvish name for nightingales). It may also appear in linnod (possibly 'seven-chant'), the name given to a rhythmic pattern used in Elvish verse.
ling (from Old Norse) derived from lyng, referring to various plants growing on heaths or moors, especially the plant more usually known as heather.
lith (Sindarin) 'ash' or 'dust', in Ered Lithui, the 'Ashen Mountains' that bordered Mordor to the north, and Lithlad, the 'plain of ash' that lay at their feet. Also seen in Anfauglith ('Gasping Dust'), the name given to the once-green plain of Ard-galen after its destruction in the Dagor Bragollach, and in its alternative name Dor-nu-Fauglith ('Land under Choking Ash').
lithe (Old English) a modernisation of liðe, 'mild, gentle, warm', which was used by the Anglo-Saxons to refer to the time around Midsummer (one name for June was liðamōnað, 'mild month'). In the Shire Calendar, Lithe was used for the days before and after Midsummer, which were collectively known as the Lithedays, and to which an Overlithe or additional Litheday could be added in a leap year. The months preceding and following Lithe were respectively named Forelithe and Afterlithe (and this follows the Anglo-Saxons, for whom another name for June was ǣrra liða ('before Lithe') while July was æfterra liða ('after Lithe'). The Bree-landers also used Lithe in their calendar, but there it referred to the entire month preceding Midsummer, with the following month being given its own name, Mede (from mǣd, 'meadow').
lómë (Elvish root) 'gloom', 'darkness', 'shadow', and thus commonly also used for 'dusk' or 'twilight'. From the former sense come two names for Fangorn Forest, Aldalómë ('tree-shadowed') and Tauremornalómë, ('forest of dark shade'), as well as the Quenya name for the land of Hithlum, Hísilómë ('mist-gloom' or 'mist-shadowed'). From the sense of 'twilight' comes Maeglin's original name Lómion ('Child of the Twilight') and also lómelindi, the Elvish name for nightingales, with the literal meaning of 'dusk-singers'. (This element is not to be confused with the similar lóm, notably in Dor-lómin; that word means 'echo', and is unrelated to lómë in the sense discussed here).
lómin (Sindarin) 'echoes', the plural form of lómen, 'echo'. When Morgoth came ashore in Middle-earth after stealing the Silmarils, Ungoliant set upon him, and he let out a great cry that shook the earth and reverberated through the air. In later years it was said that any noise made in that place would wake the echoes of the cry of Morgoth, and the place was named Lammoth, the 'Great Echo'. Inland from that shoreland waste lay a range of mountains and a land sheltering beyond. They took their names from Sindarin versions of the word for 'echoes', becoming known as Ered Lómin ('mountains of echoes') and Dor-lómin ('land of echoes') respectively. Lómin in this sense is not to be confused with lómë ('gloom', 'twilight') which had quite different etymological origins (though due to the assocation of Dor-lómin with the Mountains of Shadow that ran along its southern border, these separate meanings became somewhat intertwined).
lóni (Old Norse) (probably) 'still one', one of many Dwarf-names taken by Tolkien from the Old Norse Dvergatal in the Völuspa saga, and given to one of the companions of Balin slain in Moria. There are several possible interpretations (various sources suggest 'fighter', 'shining one' or even 'sea pool') but probably the most likely derivation is from Old Norse lón, meaning 'still', 'unmoving' or 'lazy'.
lost (Sindarin) 'empty', seen in Beren's title Camlost, 'Empty-handed'. This form derives from the same root as loth, 'empty', in the name of the wide and empty plain of Lothlann.
loth (Sindarin) an element derived from lhoth, 'empty', seen uniquely in the name Lothlann, the 'wide and empty' plain to the north of the March of Maedhros. Not to be confused with the more common name element loth, 'flower, blossom', which is unrelated to this term.
lune (originally Sindarin) 'blue', a version of the Sindarin name Lhûn adjusted to be more readily used by Westron-speakers, and especially Hobbits. The name seems to have originally come from the Blue Mountains (Ered Luin in Elvish), and indeed these were sometimes known as the Mountains of Lune. From the northern heights of these mountains sprang a river, known in Elvish as Lhûn or 'blue', and in Westron as Lune. The name also appears in the terms 'Firth of Lune' and 'Gulf of Lune', referring to the wide inlet where the river Lune ran into the Great Sea. (There are in fact two real rivers named Lune in northern England, but their names are not etymologically connected to their namesake in Middle-earth.)
lung (Sindarin) 'heavy, weighty', recorded only in the name Mablung ('weighted hand'). That name originally belonged to an Elf of Doriath, who famously recovered Beren's severed hand and, being surprised by the weight of the Silmaril that the hand still held, dropped it to the ground. Thus Mablung of Doriath became known to history as 'Mablung of the Heavy Hand'. The name was shared by a Ranger of Ithilien, a Man who lived long after the time of the original Elf named Mablung.

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