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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'.

-y (English) a word-ending used to create adjectives from nouns, denoting an important association or characterisation (as, for example, where the noun luck transforms into the adjective lucky). In a few cases, this adjectival form was converted back into a noun to create a name. This is seen most commonly among names used in the Shire and the Bree-land, where notable examples include Ferny and Tunnelly. The modern English use of -y in names like this evolved from Old English -ig of the same meaning (so the month-name Frery derived from Old English Frēorig, meaning 'freezing' or 'chilly'). Éomer's surname Éadig has the same construction (Old English éad meant 'fortune' or 'luck', hence Éadig meant 'fortunate' or 'lucky'. Note that the suffix -y has numerous different meanings in English, and many names ending in -y have other origins (for example, it forms familiar nicknames in Gammidgy or Old Rory).
ya 1 (Quenya) used as an affix to create possessive nouns, so for example the names of the Three Rings of the Elves, Narya, Nenya and Vilya literally meant 'of fire', 'of water' and 'of air' respectively. In this case the fact that these were Rings of Power was implied, so the more usual translations would be 'Ring of Fire', 'Ring of Water' and 'Ring of Air'. A similar logic applied to the days of the week in Quenya, so for example the day named Elenya literally meant 'of the stars', but was more fully translated as 'day of the stars'. The names of the weekdays in Quenya all follow this pattern: Elenya '(day) of the Stars', Anarya '(day) of the Sun', Isilya '(day) of the Moon', Aldúya '(day) of the Two Trees', Menelya '(day) of the Heavens', Eärenya '(day) of the Sea' and Valanya '(day) of the Powers'. A High Elf was sometimes described as 'of Aman' (Amanya), a word more commonly seen in the plural Amanyar, and occasionally in the negative Úmanyar ('not of Aman') for the Dark Elves. Note that the -ya element had several different meanings in Quenya, so (for example) the word Quenya itself does not use -ya in the possessive sense described here, but rather as an adjective-forming suffix.
ya 2 (Quenya) a suffix used to turn a noun or verb into an adjective. The word Quenya itself is an example of this usage, deriving from a verb meaning 'speak with words' modified to create an adjectival form. In this case the word ultimately came to be used as a noun once again, signifying the 'speech' of the Elves (and the word is sometimes translated more loosely as 'Elvish', though strictly Quenya was only one among several Elvish tongues).
yale (perhaps Welsh) as used in modern names, Yale derives from Welsh iâl, 'fertile land', used especially of fertile uplands or hill country. There is some reason to doubt that this applies to the place known as 'the Yale' in the Shire (primarily because it is described as a lowland or valley), and so the name used by the Hobbits potentially has some other intended etymology. It might, for example, derive from Old English ealh, 'place of shelter'. It may even represent an untranslated name anglicised from the original form used by the Shire-hobbits (the Boffins, a family closely associated with the Yale, had such a name, so an origin of this kind is far from impossible).
yav (Quenya) derived from yávë, 'fruit', and by extension 'harvest'. It occurs in the name of the Vala Yavanna, 'Giver of Fruits', and in derivatives such as Yavannamírë, 'jewel of Yavanna'. Because of its association with the harvest and with the Vala of bountiful nature, the Elves used Yávië as a name for the season of late summer and early autumn. The same connection gave rise to Yavannië, the harvest month in the calendars of the Dúnedain, and to Yáviérë, the harvest feast-day of the Stewards' Reckoning.
yávië (Quenya) 'autumn', especially early autumn or harvest time, a name related to the root yávë, 'fruit'. Yávië (or its Sindarin equivalent Iavas) was used as the name of one of the six seasons of the Elves, and the Stewards' Reckoning of Gondor included a holiday named Yáviérë ('harvest day'). Yávië possibly also appears in the name of Yávien, a descendant of Elros Tar-Minyatur. Different interpretations of her name are possible, but one reading would be 'of the harvest', perhaps implying that she was born at this time of year.
(Adûnaic) 'gift'. In Yôzâyan, this combines with zâyan, 'land', to form 'Land of Gift', a name used by the Númenóreans for their own homeland, directly equivalent to Elvish Andor.
yule (English) a time of festival falling near the end of the year, from Old English géol, probably meaning 'rebirth' (that is, it marked the ending of one year and the beginning of the next). In the Shire Calendar the two days that marked the turning of the year were known as the Yuledays, or together simply as Yule. The six-day period around Yule was known as Yuletide ('Yule time'), and the months before and after Yule were named Foreyule and Afteryule respectively. In Bree, and parts of the Eastfarthing, Foreyule was instead known as Yulemath, 'Yule month'.

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