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Chistopher Tolkien has speculated that his father, J.R.R. Tolkien, invented his entire mythology, as well as his stories of Middle-Earth, to explain the development of the Elvish languages he invented.

Two of Tolkien's languages have fairly extensive vocabularies:

Others appear only as a few words, names and phrases in a few places:

Therefore I say: ! Let these things Be!

-Ilúvatar
The Silmarillion

Ever wanted to know what some of the names you read mean? Noticed a lot of reoccuring letter combinations that you just know mean something? Well guess what....they do! Here is a list of some of the most common words/prefixes used in the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion.

Note: Most of these come from Sindarin, but a few draw their roots from Quenya. NONE of this should be taken to be reflecting the correct case in each example, they're shown just to provide a bit of understanding as to what that name actually means, how it relates to its holder, or just what that thing they're talking about is. Look here or here if you want specifics.

  • Amon- Hill, Mount.
    Examples
    • Amon Amarth- Mount Doom
    • Amon Hen- The Hill of the Eye
    • Amon Ethir- The Hill of Spies

  • Celeb- silver
    Examples

  • Dor- Land, Land of
    Examples

  • Eithel- Spring, well
    Examples
    • Eithel Ivrin- Springs of Ivrin
    • Eithel Sirion- Wells of Sirion

  • Fëa- Spirit
    Examples

  • Fin- Hair
    Examples
    • Finglas- Hair-leaf
    • Findaráto- Hair-eminent

  • Gala- Tree
    Examples
    • Galadriel- Tree-lady (Later known as 'lady of light')
    • Galadrim- Tree people
    • Galathilion- White Tree of the Moon

  • Hel1- Ice
    Examples
    • Helcar- Icy cold
    • Helcaraxë- Grinding Ice, ice-fangs

  • Lór- Dream, golden
    Examples
    • Lórien- Dreamland
    • Lórindol- Golden headed
    • Lórellin- Dream (lake?)

  • Loss- Snow
    Examples
    • Lossarnach- Snow of Arnach
    • Lossoth- Snow People

  • Roh- Horse
    Examples
    • Rohan- Horseland
    • Roheryn- The Lady's Horse

  • Rómen- East
    Examples
    • Rómen- East
    • Romendacil- East winner
    • Rómenna- Eastwards


1JudyT offers insight to the mythological origins on some of these: Hel was an icy region in Norse mythology...

Questions? Corrections? Any more to add? /msg me

Editor's note (1/23/05): Galadriel does not come from galadh, Sindarin for 'tree' but from galad Sindarin for 'radiance'. The root is kal- in Quenya or gal- in Sindarin, and the name is a reference to her hair and means 'maiden crowned with a radiant garland' according to Tolkien. (Sil, pg 360)

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