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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'.

pelen (Elvish root) 'fenced', referring to a place surrounded by a protective wall as in Pelennor ('fenced land'), the lands of eastern Gondor surrounded by the Rammas Echor ('encircling wall'). The same element occurs in the name of Steward Pelendur, but there the meaning is less clear (perhaps 'servant of the protected'). Pelen derives from a common root word pel that appears in various forms to describe protected or fenced locations, such as Pelargir ('fortified place of the royal ships'). Related is the word ephel (from et-pel, 'outer fence') giving rise to names such as Ephel Dúath (the Mountains of Shadow, but literally 'outer fence of shadows').
peregrin (Latin) 'traveller', implying a traveller to distant lands, from the Latin peregrinus, originally meaning 'foreign, alien'. Seen only in the name of Peregrin Took, one of the four Hobbits who joined the Fellowship of the Ring (and, probably by coincidence, were collectively known as the 'Travellers' on their return to the Shire).
pimpernel (English, from Old French) a small five-petaled flower commonly red or blue in colour. The origins of the name are uncertain, but it is thought to derive ultimately from Latin piperinus, 'pepper-like', because of the shape of its fruits. The flower gave its name to Pimpernel Took, one of the three elder sisters of Peregrin Took.
pinnath (Sindarin) 'downs', formed from the word penn (a slope or ridge), pluralised as pinn and emphasised with -ath ('many'). Seen only in Pinnath Gelin, the 'Green Hills' (literally, 'host of green downs') of the Anfalas in western Gondor.
poros (Source uncertain) the name of the river that separated the Gondorian province of Ithilien from Harondor or South Gondor. The meaning of the name is uncertain; in a list of the rivers of Gondor, Tolkien marks Poros as 'boundary', which may be a translation of its name, or possibly a simple geographical description. The name does not seem to meaningfully match any known Elvish roots, and so might conceivably represent a Mannish name for the river from pre-Gondorian times.
púkel (Old English) 'devil', 'sprite', but also applied to an ugly or deformed person, and hence the use in Rohan of Púkel-men to refer to the Drúedain, and also their statues on the road to Dunharrow. The same element is used in 'Old Púkel-land' and 'Old Púkel-wilderness' as translations of the Elvish Drúwaith Iaur.

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

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