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The name was first used in I 310
Probably Noldor
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 29 November 2011
  • This entry is complete


A name for Finrod’s people

Bëor and his people were the first of Men to cross the Blue Mountains and encounter one of the Eldar. Near the springs of the River Thalos, they were discovered by King Finrod, who was travelling in the far eastern lands. Men had come across Elves of the Avari before this time, but Finrod was the first of the High Elves they had encountered, and they were so astonished that at first they imagined him to be one of the Valar. After he taught them the truth, and much else besides, they gave him the name Nóm, meaning 'Wisdom', and came to call all his people Nómin, meaning 'The Wise'.

It is a little unclear to which Elves the word Nómin is intended to apply. The Silmarillion simply says that it was given to Finrod's 'folk',2 which is open to several interpretations. That 'folk' might refer to all the Eldar of Beleriand, or the Noldor in particular, or just to the Elves of Nargothrond where Finrod ruled. In context, though, and given the similarity in meaning between the two names, it seems to refer to the Elves of the Noldor.



In earlier versions of The Silmarillion, the name Noldor is translated by the English 'Gnome' (in the sense of a wise being). Tolkien eventually dropped this association, but it is possible that the Mannish name Nómin (associated with Nóm, 'wisdom') had its origins in the connection between 'Noldor' and 'Gnomes'.


From Quenta Silmarillion 17, Of the Coming of Men into the West. While the published Silmarillion is ambiguous on this point, earlier texts point to the name being intended specifically for the Noldor. In the equivalent passage in the earlier Quenta (in volume IV of The History of Middle-earth), the title of the 'Wise' (not there translated as Nómin) was given to '...[Finrod's] race,... whom we call the Gnomes.' As noted above, 'Gnomes' was a name used in this phase of Tolkien's writing to refer specifically to the Noldor.

See also...

Nóm, The Wise, Wise People


About this entry:

  • Updated 29 November 2011
  • This entry is complete

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