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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'.

ad (Sindarin) deriving originally from the root word for 'two', ad came to be used as a prefix (or very occasionally as a suffix) relating to doubling or repetition. As a prefix it appears in Adurant ('double course', because this river split to flow around the isle of Tol Galen) and aduial ('second twilight', the twilight of evening following minuial, the 'first twilight' of morning). The feast of Mereth Aderthad uses ad to mark repetition, as the Elvish equivalent of English 're-', so aderthad translates as 'reuniting'. As a suffix, ad in this sense was said to be archaic and effectively extinct, but we do have a single case of such a use: Orgaladhad ('day of the Two Trees'). Though the ending -ad is a common ending in Elvish, then, it very rarely carries this 'two' meaning. More usually it appears as a noun-forming suffix or a gerund (equivalent to '-ing' in English) and indeed it is used in that context at the end of the word aderthad (which more fully derives from ad 're-' and erthad 'uniting').
aer (Sindarin) 'sea', used especially of the inner oceans of the world as opposed to the Outer Sea. This Sindarin word is far less commonly seen than the Quenya equivalent eär, but it appears in Belegaer (the Sindarin name for the 'Great Sea'), and also in Aerandir, the name of a mariner that translates as 'sea wanderer'.
ag (Sindarin) 'narrow', especially in the sense of something confined on either side. Its only recorded use is in Aglon, the name of a pass westward of the March of Maedhros whose name literally meant a 'narrow path' between high cliff walls. Ag- in this sense is not be confused with the more common agla-, 'glorious', which comes from a quite unrelated Elvish root.
ainu (Quenya) 'holy one' (from aina, 'holy'); an Ainu was one of the Holy Ones created by Eru Ilúvatar (with the plural being Ainur). Related is Ainulindalë ('Music of the Ainur'), the Great Song through which the universe was brought into being.
aiwë (Quenya) 'bird', especially referring to small birds. In this form it the word is only seen in Aiwendil ('bird-friend'), the name used in Aman for the being who later became the Wizard Radagast. The Sindarin equivalent was aew, seen in Linaewen, the 'lake of birds' in Nevrast.
akallabêth (Adûnaic) 'downfallen' (or fully 'she that has fallen'), a name in the native tongue of the Númenóreans for their island home after its Downfall in II 3319, also seen in translated into Elvish as Atalantë and English as 'the Downfallen'. The same name is used for the account of the Downfall created by Elendil, Akallabêth, the Tale of the Downfall of Númenor.
alata (Quenya) 'radiance', seen in Galadriel's Quenya name Alatáriel ('radiant-garlanded maiden'), and also possibly in Alatar, a name for one of the little-known Blue Wizards.
alcar (Quenya) used literally of light as 'radiance' or 'brilliance', but most commonly intended in the metaphorical sense of 'glory'. Alcar appears in the personal names Atanalcar and Minalcar (the meanings of which are not completely clear, but are apparently something like 'Man of glory' and 'prominent glory', respectively). It also seems to appear in the name of Ar-Pharazôn's ship Alcarondas (translated 'Castle of the Sea', but with a more literal meaning close to 'castle of glory'). The adjectival form was alcarin, 'glorious', and this was the given name of Alcarin (later Tar-Alcarin, 'King Glorious', of Númenor) and also used as a title of King Atanatar II Alcarin ('the Glorious') of Gondor. The name Alcarinquë means 'radiant' or 'glorious', and was evidently used by the Elves for the brilliant light in the sky that we call Jupiter. The Sindarin equivalent of alcar was aglar, seen for example in Aglarond the Glittering Caves behind Helm's Deep in Rohan.
alda (Quenya) 'tree', naturally common in tree names such as culumalda ('red-golden tree') or Malinalda (the 'Golden Tree' of Valinor), and also seen in Aldalómë ('tree-twilight', a name for Fangorn Forest). The plural form was aldar, seen in Nísimaldar ('Fragrant Trees') as well as several tree-related personal names and titles (such as Aldaron and Aldarion, both meaning '(Lord) of Trees').
aldor (Old English) from ealdor, literally meaning 'elder' or 'parent', but also used to refer to the lord or chieftain of a region. This is the source of the name Aldor, given to the third King of Rohan. Aldor lived to the age of one hundred and one, ruling over Rohan for seventy-five years, so a name meaning both 'elder' and 'lord' fit its bearer well.
almare (Quenya) 'blessedness', 'good fortune', 'bliss', apparently in Almaren, '(place or isle) of the blessed', where the Valar dwelt in Middle-earth before departing into the West. The same element also seems to lie behind Almarian, the otherwise uninterpreted name of the Queen to Tar-Meneldur of Númenor.
altá (Quenya from Telerin) 'glittering' or 'radiant'. This is an unusual and quite possibly apocryphal element mentioned in one of several alternative strands of Galadriel's history. In one version of her story, she was given the Telerin name Alatáriel by Celeborn, and that name was adapted into Quenya as Altáriel (with Galadriel being the more familiar Sindarin version of the same name). All these alternatives have equivalent meanings, 'crowned with a radiant garland', in reference to Galadriel's golden hair.
ambar (Quenya) 'fate' or 'doom', seen in Túrin's adopted surname Turambar 'Master of Doom', and echoed in Niënor's lament Turambar turun ambartanen 'Master of Doom by doom mastered' (Quenta Silmarillion 21, Of Túrin Turambar). The name Turambar was also given to a King of Gondor, presumably as a historical allusion to Túrin. The Sindarin form of ambar was amarth, seen in Amon Amarth, the Sindarin name for Mount Doom. This use of ambar for 'doom' does not appear in Ambar-metta, 'Middle-earth', in which ambar means 'earth' as an inhabited place, and comes from a quite different etymological source.
amon (Sindarin) 'hill', from an ancient Elvish root-word am- meaning 'up'. This is naturally a very common element in the names of hills. Among numerous examples are Amon Hen and Amon Lhaw the 'Hill of Sight' and 'Hill of Hearing'; Amon Rûdh the 'Bald Hill'; Amon Sûl, literally the 'hill of wind' (but conventionally translated 'Weathertop'); and Amon Tirith the 'Hill of Guard' on which Minas Tirith was built. Amon was also occasionally used of mountains, as in Amon Uilos, 'Mount Everwhite' (a name for Taniquetil in Aman) and also in Amon Amarth, 'Mount Doom' in Mordor. The plural form of amon is emyn, used of ranges or groups of hills, as for example Emyn Beraid, the 'Tower Hills', which uses the Sindarin plurals of both amon 'hill' and barad, 'tower'.
an (1) (Sindarin) an abbreviated form descending from the old word yandē for a wide land or country. Variations or contractions of that archaic form are found in many names for lands or regions, as for example Beleriand (probably 'land of Balar') or Ithilien ('land of the Moon'). After the people of Eorl settled Calenardhon, that land was renamed in Elvish as Rochand, 'horse-land'. Over time that name became simplified to Rohan, where -an was all that remained of the element meaning 'land'. Rohan is our only definite example of -an being used in this way, but Cardolan (interpretable as 'red hill land') is another possible example of the same simplifying process.
an (2) (Quenya) a superlative prefix, intensifying the meaning of a word. A prominent example is in Eärendil's epithet Elenion Ancalima, 'brightest of stars', in which the word calima 'bright' becomes ancalima, 'brightest'. This formulation appears in the names of two Rulers of Númenor, Queen Tar-Ancalimë and King Tar-Ancalimon (where Tar- indicates royalty, and the two names uses feminine and masculine name-endings respectively).
an(d) (Sindarin) 'long', ultimately derived from an ancient form andá, and seen as both and and ann in Sindarin. Common in place-names such as Andram ('Long Wall'), Andrast ('long horn'), Anduin ('long river') or Anfalas ('long shore'). This element is also seen in the Elvish name for the Longbeard Dwarves, which was Anfangrim. Certain terms from writing also used the an- prefix, as in Angerthas ('long rune rows') or Andaith ('long mark'). The same word is seen in the island name Cair Andros ('Ship of Long-foam'), and in Andrath ('long climb' or 'long road'), which also appears in Cirith Forn en Andrath ('northern pass of the long climb', the Elvish name for the High Pass).
anar (Quenya) 'the Sun'. This is the High-elven form of the word more commonly seen in its Sindarin version, Anor, but its Quenya spelling can be found in the traditional Elvish name of the second day of the week, Anarya or 'Sunday'. The word is also seen in the name of traditional constellation, Anarríma (uncertain, but probably something close to 'Sun's edge'), and in coranar, 'Sun-round', the Elves' name for a single solar year. The term also appears in two personal names: Anardil ('Devoted to the Sun') and, prominently, Anárion (apparently 'Sun-son') the younger son of Elendil.
and (Sindarin) 'region, country, land' is an ending for place-names, also seen in the variant forms -end and -ond. In the form -and it is most commonly seen in two old, but important, names: Beleriand ('country of Balar') and Ossiriand ('Land of Seven Rivers'). In common use the final -d was sometimes lost, and thus the formal Sindarin name Rochand ('horse land') evolved over time to form the name Rohan.
andúnië (Quenya) 'sunset', from an original root ndú- meaning 'sink' or 'go down', and associated with the West as the direction of the sunset. The word gave its name to a city and port in Númenor, named Andúnië because it stood on the western shores of the island.
ang (Sindarin) 'iron', prominent in the name of Morgoth's fortress of Angband ('Hells of Iron'), and also in names such as Anghabar ('iron mine'), Anglachel ('iron of the flaming star'), Angrist ('iron cutter') or Gurthang ('Iron of Death'). The genitive form is angren ('of iron'), which was the Sindarin name of the River Isen, also found in Carach Angren ('jaws of iron') in Mordor. The plural form was eng, as in Ered Engrin ('Iron Mountains'). The related Quenya form was anga, as in Angamaitë ('iron fist') and Angaráto ('iron champion'), the son of Finarfin whose name was translated into Sindarin as Angrod.
angainor (Quenya) 'oppressor' or 'tormentor', Angainor was the name of the mighty chain used by the Valar to bind Melkor. The element ang was a common Elvish root referring to 'iron', and given that Angainor was the name of a metal chain, a connection might be suspected (indeed Christopher Tolkien makes this connection explicitly in his linguistic appendix to The Silmarillion). In this case, however, a connection with 'iron' does not seem to be intended, and instead the word appears to have evolved from old root-words meaning 'hurt' or 'cause pain'.
ann (Sindarin) 'region, country, land', a development of the more common -and, with the same meaning. This is seen uniquely in Rochann, a transitional form between the full Elvish Rochand ('horse-land') and the form most commonly used in the later Third Age, Rohan. (There is a single other recorded case of a place-name ending in -ann, Lothlann, but in that case the final -lann comes from a word for 'wide', and is unconnected to -ann as used in Rochann.)
anna (Elvish root) 'gift' and also 'giver', from an original term na, meaning 'towards' (hence an anna was etymologically a thing presented by one person to another). This element appears in the name of the Vala Yavanna ('Giver of Fruits') and hence indirectly to the tree Yavannamírë ('jewel of Yavanna') named after her. It was taken by Sauron as part of his alias Annatar ('Lord of Gifts'), with those gifts being the secrets of making Rings of Power. The same element is seen in Vardarianna ('crown-gift of Varda') and apparently also in Annael (which seems to mean 'Elf of the gift' or something similar). The name Eldanna is indirectly related, while not precisely containing anna as 'gift'; instead, it connects to the original term na, 'towards', and means 'towards the Eldar'.
annon (Sindarin) 'gate', used most prominently in Morannon, the 'Black Gate' of Mordor, and also in Annon-in-Gelydh, the 'Gate of the Noldor' in Nevrast. Gandalf referred to the West-gate of Moria as annon edhellen, 'gate of the Elves' (The Fellowship of the Ring II 4), and the stream that ran from that gate was called the 'Gate-stream', or Sirannon in Elvish.
anor (Sindarin) 'the Sun', after which a day of the week was named Oranor ('Sunday'). Elendil's second son was named Anárion (incorporating anar, the Quenya equivalent of anor), and from his association with the Sun came the name of his tower Minas Anor ('Tower of the Sun'), and Anórien ('Sunland') where the tower stood. The same element is seen in the flower name elanor, translated 'sun-star', after which Sam Gamgee named his eldest daughter.
anwar (Sindarin) 'awe' in Amon Anwar ('Hill of Awe'), the Elvish name for the mountain known by the Rohrrim as the Halifirien ('holy mountain'). The same element appears in the partial translation Hill of Anwar, and also Wood of Anwar for the Firien Wood that surrounded the mountain. The tradition of awe and holiness associated with the Halifirien was due to the existence of a hidden hallow of the Valar on its slopes.
ar(a) (Elvish root) 'noble, royal', a very common element in the names of both people and places, as for example Arwen ('noble maiden'), Arnor ('royal land'), Armenelos ('royal fortress of the heavens'), Aredhel Ar-Feiniel ('noble Elf, noble White Lady') and many others besides. Ar- was adopted into Adûnaic, where it formed the royal prefix of the later Kings of Númenor, from Ar-Adûnakhôr ('King, Lord of the West') onwards. It was also used as a royal prefix by the Kings of Arthedain from the time of Argeleb I (probably 'silver king'), and this usage was continued by the Chieftains of the Dúnedain down to the time of Aragorn II ('kingly valour').
aran (Sindarin) usually 'king', though occasionally translated as 'lord' or 'chieftain' (descending from an Elvish root meaning 'hold' or 'possess'). Aran appears in two personal names, Arantar (probably 'High King') and Aranarth (uncertain, but perhaps 'King of the land'). It was also commonly seen in the titles of people and things associated with kings, notably Arandur ('King's servant'), the original Elvish title translated as 'Steward'. Aranrúth ('King's ire') was the name of Thingol's sword, and Asëa aranion was the healing plant whose name translated as 'Kingsfoil'. The Elf-letters on the West-gate of Moria included the title Aran Moria, for the King of Khazad-dûm (also translated as the 'Lord of Moria'). In some names and titles the word aran is used as a adjective meaning 'kingly' or 'noble' rather than a noun, as in the title Aranel ('noble Elf' or 'princess', depending on context) or Aranwë ('noble one'). The plural of aran was erain ('kings') as in Fornost Erain, the old northern city of the Kings of Arthedain, whose name was translated as 'Norbury of the Kings'.
arda (Quenya) 'bounded region' or 'realm', prominently used as a name for the whole world (and thus implying that the world is the 'realm' of Manwë the Elder King). It also appears in a few derived names, such as Ardamir ('jewel of the world'). The Sindarin equivalent is gardh, seen only in Lisgardh, the land of reeds at the Mouths of Sirion.
arken (Old English) a modernisation of Old English eorcan, meaning 'holy', in the name of the Arkenstone, the glittering jewel of Erebor (it's notable that the Old English name for the Silmarils is given as eorclanstánas, 'holy stones', which would follow an identical derivation to Arkenstone). A closely related root seems to appear in the name Erkenbrand (possibly meaning 'precious - or possibly even holy - sword').
aros (Sindarin) 'bloody', from an adjective iaros. The name was given to the river Aros that flowed along the borders of Doriath because of its reddish colour (presumably due to iron deposits near its source). The same element appears in Arossiach, literally the 'crossing of the bloody river', a ford on the river's upper course.
arth (Sindarin) 'land, realm', a rare formation stemming from gardh a place that is owned or possessed. The only definitely identifiable use is Arthórien, from gardh-thúrian, 'hidden realm', which was originally a name for Doriath as a whole, and later applied to part of its eastern borderlands. Arth- is also plausibly present in Arthedain (which therefore translates as 'realm of the Edain', though this is not explicitly attested).
ath (Sindarin) a plural ending, formally signifying a collective plural used to encompass all members of a class. In this strict sense it is seen in terms like Periannath ('Halflings'), Drúath ('wild people', a name for the Drúedain), Eglath (the 'Forsaken'), or Dagor Dagorath ('battle of all battles'). The word giliath was used for all the stars in the sky, and appears in names such as Osgiliath ('fortress of the stars') or Dagon-nuin-Giliath ('Battle-under-Stars'). In other cases this plural is used not necessarily for an entire class, but nonetheless for a very large numbers of things, as in Remmirath ('Netted Stars'), Lanthir Lamath ('waterfall of many echoes') or Sammath Naur ('Chambers of Fire'). In the name Argonath, -ath is still a plural, but here follows a different etymological path, and derives from -ad, 'two', rather than 'many' (so Argonath literally means 'two noble stones'). It was also possibly under the influence of this connection to 'two' that gave rise to the plurals in Taur-im-Duinath ('Forest between the Rivers') and Minhiriath ('between the rivers'), as each of these places lay between two rivers, rather than the many rivers that -ath would otherwise imply.
ava (Quenya) 'outer'; at least, according to some sources, the name Avallónë could be interpreted as 'outer isle' or 'outer haven'. It should be said that the meaning of this name (which had its ultimate roots in Celtic Avalon 'isle of apples') varied considerably over time. In some sources ava- has no connection to 'outer', and the full name Avallónë implied 'nearest to Valinor'. It would be a natural assumption that ava- appears in the name Avathar, an outer land in the south of Aman, but in fact this does not seem to be the case (rather, that name is said to mean 'the Shadows').
azan (Khuzdul) 'dark, dim', a word from the language of the Dwarves used in the sense of 'overshadowed' in the name Azanulbizar, 'valley of dim streams', for the vale that lay in the shadow of the Mountains of Moria. The name is usually translated into English using the more archaic form 'Dimrill Dale'.

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