A TOLKIEN DICTIONARY

TAKEN FROM

The Indexes of
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
and
THE SILMARILLION

by    ROBERT IRELAND
 
advisor:     LALAITH

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STRATEGIES

First, let it be established that the author of this dictionary is not a grammarian - he is a student of etymologies. In any language unraveling the source of words, and thereby their subtle meanings, is not just a matter of formula, but often requires creative insight - not just insight into language forms but also into human nature.

This approach is complicated by the languages of J.R.R. Tolkien because his languages are fabricated; that is to say, they did not evolve amongst an historical population over a long period of time; their forms were not tested by an evolving citizenry, their ambiguities not resolved by common usage. The languages of Middle-earth are the product of one mind over a period of a lifetime. Consequently there arises duplication of forms, gaps of nuances of meaning plus creative leaps for the sake of poesy.

Two sources are used primarily here to unravel some of the enigmatic names present in Tolkien's writing; 1/ the Appendix to The Silmarillion [referred to hereafter as 'Appx'], the latest etymological gleanings concerning the Elven tongues at the time of the writing of The Lord of the Rings [hereater referred to as LOTR]; 2/The Etymologies [referred to hereafter as 'Etym'], a source appearing in The Lost Road, Part Three, compiled by Christopher Tolkien and published by Del Rey Books, © 1987 - Volume 5 of The History of Middle-earth series.

At times Etym perfectly explains the forms in the Appx, at other times they all but contradict one another. Between Tolkien's earliest writing and the writing of LOTR he codified the Elven languages in Etym, changing many forms from his earlier 'lexicons'. Yet the staggering demands of the sweeping Lord of the Rings forced the changing and addition of even more forms, so that even Etym can only be used as a guide, a partial authority.

The earlier 'lexicons' are sometimes instructive where Etym offers little guidance. They cannot be considered comprehensive, but many of the original roots are defined there. By the time of the writing of LOTR the earliest forms had mostly been changed or abandoned, yet the evidence is compelling that, at times, Tolkien liked the poesy of a name so much that he retained the older form even though the name is nearly impossible to source. At those occasions the only guidance possible is context, such as the name Serindë in the Silmarillion Dictionary:
Serindë     the name may relate to an old Q root GWERE [or GWIDI] 'twirl, twist', under which is winda
      'woof' [later form: WEY- weave; Etym]; see SER- love [Etym]; ser + -i- [of] + windë = Serindë - 'love
      of yarn'; 'The Broideress'; Tolkien offers an alternate way to interpret the name - as the Vanyarin
      name Þerindë; TER-, TERES- pierce [Etym], Noldorin *sere, Vanyarin *þere needle; the ancient þ,
      while retained in Vanyarin, evolved to s in Noldorin and Quenya; -ndë is a feminine ending from
      NDIS- woman, bride [Etym] - thus 'Needle Woman'; in older texts Tolkien names her 'Byrde Míriel',
      byrde - broideress - taken from OE byrdan to embroider; Míriel, wife of Finwë in Valinor; also see
      Míriel¹

In the LOTR section of the dictionary, many terms are Common Speech, Hobbit and 'Mannish' terms which have been mostly converted by Tolkien into English; the Common Speech is closest to modern English, Hobbit speech reverts to Middle English and Old English forms, and the speech of the Rohirrim and some of the 'Mannish' tongues of the vales of the Anduin and the Edain of the First Age can be traced back to Anglo Saxon, Gaelic, Norse and other older sources of English. The dynamics of this mix might be best demonstrated in the entry in the Silmarillion Dictionary section, Belegund, an early Adan:
Belegund     see beleg mighty [appx]; see also KUNDU- prince, Nol cunn, (-gund in names) [Etym];
      'Mighty [or Great] Prince'; perhaps the Elvish name is fashioned upon an older M name, such as
      Gaulish bele-, *belo- 'flash, fire' [Indo-European root bhel-¹ 'bright'], and Gaulish cuno- high ('noble'),
      but which often became blended with , Breton koun 'hound' ['fierce fighter']; father-in-law of Huor

Some terms must be traced through the multi-volume series - The History of Middle-earth - a monumental project collecting the various writings and musings of Professor Tolkien over decades. Not all of these volumes were available to this author.

This Dictionary does not deal in any depth with the Black Speech, pre-Elven 'Valarin', Dwarvish nor Númenórean [or 'Adûnaic']; this author has seen various web sites dealing with the terms in these languages. It might be mentioned, however, that Tolkien was English, and a scholar of the English language, and despite his Herculean efforts of creation, it sometimes becomes inescapable to conclude that he kept bumping into familiar forms; thus sometimes the English and its progenitors can be a pointer as to where to find a definition for a name or term.

It is not the intention of this Dictionary to describe the person, place, entity or concept listed; the purpose of this work is to source each term so that a more accurate definition can be postulated. For a description of each item, reading J.R.R. Tolkien's original writings is the best source to consult, likewise the History of Middle-earth series already mentioned. For a quick reference, the excellent 'encyclopedia' by Robert Foster, A Complete Guide to Middle-earth [© 1971, 1978, Del Rey Books, Ballantine Books, New York] gives a brief description and history of every name. In order to sharpen the mental picture of the locations of various places, of course consult the maps included by Tolkien in his own writings. For a comprehansive and detailed rendering of all the places mentioned over thousands of years of history, see The Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad, © 1991, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, New York. This latter work is so well drawn and detailed that often definitions of place names seem redundant.

An excellent resource for discussion of all the Tolkien languages by some of the world's leading scholars can be found on the web at the Tolkien Language List within their archives, or sign up for the discussion forum. Publications following scholars of Tolkien's original manuscripts are available through elvish.org, and further scholarship on etymology and grammar are available at Fellowship of the Word-smiths. An excellent in-depth discussion of the evolving etymological lexicons can be found at Ardalambion, of Quenya specifically, and of Sindarin specifically.
 
 

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        The LORD OF THE RINGS:
          A - C           D - F           G - L           M - Q           R - Z
 

        The SILMARILLION:
        A - B           C - E           F - I           K - N           O - Y
 

        HOBBITRY - A dictionary of Hobbit, the Common Speech, Rohan and some Mannish
                                  terms; for various names also consult the Lord of the Rings Dictionary

        Appendix A - The RINGS OF POWER - A treatise on universal mythopoeic and
                                  metaphysical principles incorporated into the legends of Middle-earth

        Appendix B -  SAURON - The DARK LORD - Along with Appenddix A, a study of
                                  the Dark Lord, his 'powers' and speculation on his various names.
 

Gallery graphic
A Tolkien Gallery: Historical and Interpretive visuals [in progress]
 
 

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* The LORD OF THE RINGS *

DICTIONARY OF INDEX OF NAMES

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FOREWORD

The entries in this dictionary are mostly either Elvish [Sindarin, or 'common Elven', and Quenya, or 'High Elven'], or one of the 'Mannish' tongues. There is a separate dictionary section for discussion of these Mannish terms under Hobbitry, although some discussion is included in this present list.

The LOTR Dictionary was formed of the combined indexes at the end of The LOTR, placed in proper alphabetical order. Those indexes of poems and songs were not included.

It will not escape the notice of the scholar that the terms called 'Sindarin' in this dictionary are the same - or nearly the same - as the older Noldorin forms of the Etym and The Silmarillion Dictionary. The reason is that Sindarin was all but non-existent in Tolkien's mind until he began to work on LOTR; the Professor's first love was to write the Elven lore and construct the ages of history; to some extent he got side-tracked into LOTR after he published The Hobbit. Publishing interest was not so great in the collected various histories of Elves, but a 'tale' about all these sundry races and their fates in light of the children's tale of The Hobbit was too great a draw for the booksters to resist.

After the success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, then the old materials appeared more marketable to a demanding readership, and Tolkien began to compile The Silmarillion. Unhappily he was not to finish the work, but left it to his son Christopher to thresh through the mountains and years of material: tales, and cosmologies, and calendars, numerous rewrites and lexicon changes... material that sometimes complemented itself, sometimes contradicted itself.

So the Noldorin forms, brought to Middle-earth at the beginning of the First Age of the Sun and Moon, and spoken so predominantly in Beleriand, naturally carried over to the later 'common Elven' - Sindarin - spoken throughout Middle-earth by the Third Age. The 'Sindar' of the First Age lived mostly in Doriath, and one would expect 'Doriathrin' to be the precursor of Sindarin, but it simply did not work out that way. In a sense, the term 'Ilkorin' serves the same destiny as 'Doriathrin'; it became an obsolete term, representing somewhat the same group as the Sindar, and its terms were absorbed into the later 'Sindarin'.

In dealing with the language of Rohan, and to some extent Hobbits, this author has pointed out where the terms coincide with Elvish forms in Etym, even though, as already stated above, there is no particular authority for doing so. The definition should be taken from the English sources. A good example of this approach is evident in the entry for Gríma Wormtongue:
Gríma     Roh; the name could find source in KHIM- stick [Etym], cleave; Anglo-Saxon grima mask, ghost;
      he was a sycophant for Saruman; also Wormtongue
Note that the first word of the definition denotes the tongue in which the term appears, in this case 'Roh', the language of Rohan. Following that a possible source from the Elven etymologies, and lastly the actual ancient English equivalent; the entry finishes with a brief description of the person, and finally a cross-reference.

Given the evolution of the languages over the ages, some names that appear in the First Age in the Silmarillion Dictionary may be redefined in the LOTR Dictionary, since the language elements may have changed over time.
 
 

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* The SILMARILLION *

DICTIONARY OF INDEX OF NAMES

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FOREWORD

Unlike the index to The Lord of the Rings, most of the names and terms in this index Dictionary are of Elvish origin. While the main divisions of the Elven tongues in that dictionary are Sindarin and Quenya, this index deals mostly with the First Age of Middle-earth, when the various divisions of the Elves were quintessential to the events of that time. The nuances of who decided to depart for the West and who didn't, and of those who decided to go into the West, who actually made it to Aman and who did not, and who was delayed... and why - all add to the various Elvish dialects and the sweeping events that almost ended in the extinction of the noble races.

All of these dynamics contribute to the great saga of the age of formation of the battle lines of 'good' and 'evil'. It is an age that pits Elves against Elves, Men against Men, until finally, facing utter collapse, they are compelled to find common ground in order to preserve their races.

With the overthrow of the first Dark Lord - Morgoth - at the end of the First Age, again the Elves began to fashion for themselves spheres of influence to institutionalise their grandeur. From this hubris in the Second Age comes the forging of The Rings of Power, and the deceits of the second Dark Lord - Sauron - that inevitably leads to another great confrontation between good and evil that culminates in the end of the Third Age, the War of the Ring, and the decline of the enchantments of the ancient races.

These fine distinctions lead to many variations of dialects among the Elves. As mentioned above, the Sindarin is of minor importance in comparison to the Noldorin, the language of the embittered Exiles returning from the Uttermost West. A distinction that is not clear is drawn in Etym between the Ilkorins of the Telerian Elves and the Sindar. Then there are the Sylvan Elves - or Dana or Nandar - that are known as the 'Avari': those who refused to travel West.

By the time that The Lord of the Rings was published, all of these distinctions had fairly much melded by late in the Third Age into Sindarin, with the ancient High Elven - or Quenya - surviving as a sort of historical 'root' [much the same as Latin today relates to the Romance languages.]

These distinctions are necessary in this present Dictionary, since one major source of the names and terms given in this index is found in Etym which catalogues the various dialects that evolved in the Elven tongues. While The Etymologies do not present a perfect science for the linguistic scholar, they are the primary definitive source offered by Professor Tolkien by which to unravel some of his enigmatic terms. In Etym many of the above distinctions become rather stark, and offer the only insight into the author's thinking as to the evolution of Elven words.

In the 'ages' prior to the First Age, the Elves were sundered in many ways; since the Sun and Moon had not yet been set in the skies, there is no scale by which to measure the nearly timeless periods that passed while the separated Quendi - or Eldar - continued to evolve their various dialects. Thus the many distinctions of the Elven tongues presented in Etym become quite instructive.

When the Appendix to The Silmarillion is quoted as a source, the root is in small letters and boldened, followed by 'appx' in brackets [appx]; when The Etymologies is the source of the element being analysed, the letters are in capitals and boldened, followed by 'Etym' in brackets [Etym].An sample entry is Adanhel:
Adanedhel     see adan Man [appx], also Atani; see also ELED- depart ... Quenya Elda 'departed' - Elf ...
      in Doriathrin and Danian transposed > edel [Etym]; Name of Túrin - 'Man [of the] Elves'
The word 'Atani' - boldened and italicized - indicates to check another entry in the same dictionary rather than the Appendix to the volume.
 
 

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For discussion of terms in this dictionary, the author would prefer the forum at  the Tolkien Language List;
to join, contact the moderator.
 
Addison Walk


 
Copyright © 2002 - Robert Ireland e-mail; all rights reserved. Small portions may be freely redistributed for discussion purposes, and the whole work or large portions thereof may be redistributed by permission of the copyright holder and if this paragraph and this copyright statement are included. This copyright is intended to extend to this page and all pages linked from this page as part of this Dictionary, including the LOTR Dictionary, The Silmarillion Dictionary, the Hobbit Dictionary and the two 'Appendices' ['The Rings of Power' and 'Sauron, the Dark Lord']