The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Finrod was first called Nóm in I 310; he was slain in I 465
Given in the glens of the western Blue Mountains
noa'm (pronounced like the English word gnome)1
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 4 February 2019
  • This entry is complete


A name of wisdom

Finrod Felagund, son of Finarfin and Lord of Nargothrond, was the first of the Elves of Beleriand to encounter the race of Men. Among the valleys on the western side of the Blue Mountains, he found Bëor and his companions, the first Men to cross the Mountains into Beleriand. He stayed with the newly arrived Men for a time, teaching them some of the wisdom of the Elves.

In awe of Finrod, Bëor and his people gave him the name Nóm, meaning 'Wisdom' in their own language. From this, they came to call the Elves in general (or at least the Noldor to which Finrod belonged) Nómin or 'the Wise'. From the time of that meeting through all the remaining centuries of the First Age, the People of Bëor remained loyal to Finrod's house and many, including Bëor himself, chose to enter Finrod's service.



In the earlier phases of Tolkien's writing, he commonly referred to the Noldor as 'Gnomes', alluding to Greek gnōmē meaning 'thought, idea, opinion'. He later chose to abandon this usage, fearing confusion with the popular associations of the word 'gnome', but Finrod's Mannish name of Nóm represents a last survival of this otherwise abandoned concept.

In the original form of the passage describing the meeting of Finrod and Bëor (given in volume IV of The History of Middle-earth, Bëor and his Men named Finrod 'Gnome or Wisdom', implying that 'Gnome' was a Mannish name for Elves, or at least of the Noldor. Tolkien later removed all references to the word 'Gnome', with the sole exception of this passage. Here the word 'Gnome' was retained, but transliterated as Nóm and represented as a word for 'Wisdom' in the Bëorian tongue.

See also...

Nómin, The Wise, Wise People


About this entry:

  • Updated 4 February 2019
  • This entry is complete

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