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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'.

pel (Elvish root) usually translated 'fence', but referring to any enclosing or surrounding structure such as a wall or even a range of mountains, or to an area enclosed by such a protective structure. This element appears in Pelóri, the Mountains of Defence in Aman, whose name literally means 'fencing mountains'. It also appears in the sense of a 'fenced region' or 'garth' in Pelargir ('garth of royal ships') and in a related form in Pelennor ('fenced land'). Pel is also the root behind the word Ephel ('outer fence'), as in examples such as Ephel Dúath, the Mountains of Shadow that formed the outer defences of Mordor.
pelen (Elvish root) 'fenced', from pel- above, 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).
phant (Sindarin) uncertain, but possibly a derivative of pant, 'full', 'complete', 'totality', this element appears in the name Araphant. It is not clear whether that name is intended to have a translatable meaning, but it might be taken as 'king of all' (as an Heir of Isildur, Araphant had a claim to being King of all the Dúnedain, and indeed he took steps to reunite the crowns of the North- and South-kingdoms). Note that the similar phanto in the name Turuphanto, while also somewhat obscure, does not seem to be related to phant in this sense.
pharaz (Adûnaic) apparently 'gold'; the Adûnaic language is not well documented, but the fact that Ar-Pharazôn of Númenor had a name regularly glossed as 'the Golden' points strongly toward this interpretation. The final -ôn is apparently an adjectival suffix, turning 'gold' into 'golden', hence the full name Ar-Pharazôn would mean 'king golden'. It is perhaps notable that the Elvish version of this name, Tar-Calion, uses a word for 'light' rather than 'gold', and so is not a direct translation (though it may possibly indicate that pharaz had a more specific meaning, perhaps implying 'shining gold' rather simply 'gold').
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.
porto (Latin?) the names of members of the Baggins family appear to be largely nonsensical (and, for the most part, were probably meaningless even to the Hobbits themselves) but some of them can conceivably be understood as deriving from Latinate roots. The name Porto is one of these, and might possibly come from from the Latin for 'carry', or possibly from its Italian descendant porto, which can mean 'carriage' or 'harbour'. It might very well be that Tolkien did not intend the name of Porto Baggins to hold any meaning at all, but it is perhaps notable that his brother Ponto had a name comprehensible as a related word in Latin, specifically ponto meaning 'ferry' or 'pontoon' (in Italian, ponto means 'bridge').
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.

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