Login | Register
Message Board | Latest Posts | Your Recent Posts | Rules

Thread: The names...

Is this discussion interesting? Share it on Twitter!

Bottom of Page    Message Board > Characters > The names...   
But I guess some of them just came from his imagination. Big Smile Smilie Like Tom Bombadil, where would that come from?
One of the ways Tolkien named characters, particularly elven ones, was to use Sindarin (the elven language, which he actually created) derivatives. For instance, Glorfindel means Golden Hair, Galadriel = Lady of Light, Feanor = Spirit of Fire, etc.
Gamgee is a kind of Cotton used for livestock, etc. and is named for it's inventor: Samuel Gamgee (who was a local well-known in Tolkiens home country/county)- so you can guess where he got at least one Hobbit's name from...
he borrowed a bunch from Norse mythology, too...Gandalf, for example, and also a lot of the dwarf names.
Actually, Tom's quite a common name in Britain, Tom. Tongue Smilie
In the preface to "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil" it says it's from Buckland, Shire so... Smile Smilie
Tongue Smilie
All right, all right, but where does Bombadil come from? Cool Smilie
And Saruman? And Sauron? And names like Ungoliant or Gimli? Smoke Smilie
Sauron is Quenya - 'the Abhorred'...Saruman is old English, meaning 'skillful man'
Actually, he modified some names, for instance, Eonwe, the herald of Manwe, was first called Fionwe, and was his son!
The name of Earendi is not invented by Tolkien, it comes form a real old verse, and it is a name of an angel - and at the same time the name of Morning/Evening Star. Earendel (such was the spelling) is told to be "the brightest of angels", "engla beorthnost". Ane the name "Middle-Earth" also appears in the same verse!
But all these names that come from Sindarin or Quenya, those are languages Tolkien made up himself, right? So he still had to make them up, and give them a meaning. Duck Smilie
Smeagol is actually two words in Old English which means burrowing under. Big Laugh Smilie
Really? LOL! Very Big Grin Smilie
And Saruman? And Sauron? And names like Ungoliant or Gimli?

Ahem...Ungoliant (spider-something in Sindarin) was probably derived from the Quenya 'tengwa' (d*mn, can't do the squiggly sign here), or the number '8', which, funnily enough, is the exact number of limbs that I possess.

*checks The Shaping of ME*
Well, I was also called Ungoliante, Ungweliante and Gloomweaver, although there was another character called Wirilome (Gloomweaver) in the earlier versions of Silm. Have no idea who she was. Sad Smilie
It comes from Sindarin or Quenya so you keep telling me! But where do Sindarin and Quenya come from? From Tolkien's mind, right? Animated Wink Smilie
Cool Smilie That's as good an answer as any, Tommy. Thumbs Up Smilie
Interesting discussion. This is what I was able to dig up on the subject.

From Michael N. Stanton's Hobbits, Elves, and Wizards :

The wizard who went astray is Saruman; the Anglo-Saxon or Old English root 'searu-' means 'treachery' or 'cunning'; thus 'man of 'treachery';

the chief spirit of evil (in LotR) is Sauron; the Old Norse or Icelandic stem 'saur' supplies many words meaning 'filth' or 'dung' or 'uncleanness';

Gollum's name before he appropriated the Ring was Smeagol; the Old English word 'smeagan' means 'to ponder' or 'to inquire'; related words give the sense of 'creeping in' or 'craftiness';

his hapless cousin was Deagol, which is the Old English word for 'hidden' or 'secret';

Theoden is the name of the King of Rohan; in Old English the word is a common noun meaning 'chieftan' or 'people-king';

the giant female spider of Book IV (of LotR) is Shelob; Old English for spider is 'lobbe'; (thus perhaps 'she-lobbe', 'female-spider'? just a thought...)

'ent' in Old English means 'giant';

Mordor derives from 'morthor' which means murder in Old English; all the associations are negative: morbid, mortal, Modred of Arthurian legend;

Theoden's horse is Snowmane, an easy deriviation; Gandalf's horse, however, is Shadowfax, from Old English 'sceadu' meaning shadowy-gray, and 'fax', or 'feax' meaning hair or coat.

From the website Ardalambion:

We know very little about Westron, for the simple reason that Tolkien has rendered it into English almost everywhere! A few words of genuine Westron are given in Appendix F to LotR and (relatively) many more in The Peoples of Middle-earth. Tolkien even translated the names of the Hobbits. There were never any hobbits called Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry; their real names were Maura, Ban, Razar and Kali (respectively). The word hobbit itself is just a rendering of the actual Third Age word kuduk (derived from Old English holbytla "hole-dweller" the way kuduk is believed to descend from archaic kûd-dûkan of this meaning, the form kûd-dûkan still being preserved in Rohirric). Maura ("Frodo") and his friends would not have known the word "hobbit" as such; they said kuduk.

For more info on Westron and Hobbit names: http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/westron.htm

Also, The Shire is 'Suza', Bilbo is 'Bilba', Baggins is 'Labingi', Gamgee is 'Galbasi', and so on and so forth. I don't know about you folk, but all of this came as quite a surprise to me! I knew that the English text in LotR was "translated" from Westron, but I always thought the names were the same.

Thank you to Rednell, for leading me to Ardalambion in the first place.
Hey thanks Prog! Thumbs Up Smilie
Ah, my favorite question, where did the names come from?
As said before, they are mostly from Sindarian and Quenya, langauges Tolkien did make up himself, but I read somewhere that he modeled these langauges after Finnish. Yes, the names of the dwarves in the hobbit, as well as Dain and Thrain came from Dvergatal, Tally of the Dwarves, in the Elder Edda as written by Snorri Sturluson. The name Gandalf also appears here, and as the last element is clearly 'alf' or elf, Tolkien took the first element- 'gand'-to mean staff, so Gandalf's name means 'staff-elf'-ie, a wizard. Very interesting process, if you ask me.
In LETTERS, he says also that the name Smaug is a philological joke, because O.E. smaugan means 'to squeeze through a hole'.
I like the latter day joke (or was it just a coincidence) that they named Los Angeles air pollution 'smog'.

I believe that the Elder Edda originated in Iceland and I thought they spoke Danish, or is Finnish closer to the original language of the Scandinavians? Not being knowledgeable in such things makes my ignorance dangerous. I did wade through a translation of the Elder Edda thirty-some years ago, after I couldn't find any more Tolkien and had completed the works of C.S. Lewis and Williams. I can't even remember what Williams wrote, let alone his first name--to get back on topic. Big Smile Smilie
In Polish "dragon" is called "smok" - very close to our old Smaug!
But, could Tolkien possibly know that? Perhaps - he had some Poliish acquaintaines, and his grave (in a Roman Catholic part of cemetery) is surrounded by graves of Polish emigrants...

[Edited on 7/10/2002 by Eryan]
The Scandanavian languages are classified as the langauge of Iceland (they actually still speak Old Norse there, but Danish and Swedish too, I belive), 'modern' Norwergian, Danish, Swedish and (I think) German. Swedish, Iceland language, and Norwergian are very close, having sort of grown out of eachother, and Danish is right in there too, becasue the Danes colonized so much of Scandanavia, their langauge had a lot of influence. Finnish is more closely related to the langauges of southern Europe, like Ukraine. And to get back on topic, Tolkien studied all these languages in depth, was fluent in a few of them, and is said to have used them as inspiration for his own languages, and for jokes only a philologist could understand. Glad you're interested, Grondmaster, hope I didn't bore you to death! Big Smile Smilie
Thanks, Samwisegamgee. Smile Smilie I'm interested in words but English is hard enough for me with my 200 plus word vocabulary. What with all its borrowed words added to those from the Angles, Saxons, and Normans, not to mention the words brought in from the former colonies and technology; it is not an easy language to master. But then I have only been working at it for sixty plus years. Animated Wink Smilie
I Have A Question. To Make Sindain JRTolkien Mixed 2 Languages, One Of Witch Was Finnish. What Was The Other One? I Forgot... Angel Smilie
Oh Crud Sorry SamwiseGamgee Didn't See Your Post! Thanks Though! Big Smile Smilie
You're welcome, guys. Orimono, we have the same avatar! Big Laugh Smilie You're probably not new here (you've got more posts than me), but why don't you pop in at the 'Information for Newbies' thread, as no newbies have been there lately, and we need entertainment Wink Smilie Grondmaster, I find English a very interesting language, you ought to get a hold of a piece called 'An Ode to English'. It is sort of hard to read, but I think you'd find it amusing, forgot who it is by, perhaps Richard Carew??? But it's in the OXFORD BOOK OF PROSE.
And back to the original topic of this thread (as you noticed I have the wonderful ability to get off topic), did you want full eytomology of these names, Sam, or just the origans? If you want eytomology, I suggest you check out the appendixes of the Silmarillion.
You can also check out the info that Prog listed as well as The Hobbit Companion, it aslo tells about the way Tolkien picked out the names.
Hey Orimono, question for you: Why Do You Write Every Word With A Capital Letter? Big Smile Smilie Just curious... Could be just me, of course... Cool Smilie

I like this language thingie here. I'm going to study Russian this year, and if I come across any Tolkien-related words, I'll let you know. Big Smile Smilie
Tolkien is not like as or your faters and gandfaters.I think tolkien invented name of charachters from skandinavian laguanges what he stady it Smile Smilie
I've noticed that there are a lot of similarities between existing languages and Tolkien's languages; such as Hebrew and Gaelic. Hebrew has much in common with Adûnaic.

Anyway, about the names, other than the common Sindarin or standard Ilkorin compound names, there are many names with Old English meanings, usually with the Rohirrim, and some even occur in Beowulf. Also, as for Bombadil, I wrote somewhere else on this site that my theory is that the word Bombadil comes from the Elvish roots val- óm- (n)dil-. Those can produce Sindarin-ish Val óma ndil, or Valómandil. As the AElvish tongue mutated and Sindarin emerged, consonants were hardened and lenited, and the nasal m was mutated to mb. Likewise, the n from nd was lost, producing Balombadil. This means Power-Voice-Friend, or the Friend with the Power of Voice/ -with the Powerful Voice. This, as has been demonstrated, is in my opinion a fine and fitting name for this enigma. Then, Bal- became B- in an attempt to shorten it, or possibly as a sign of affection, or perhaps a simple error. (see note)* Thus "Bombadil" was produced, imho anyway. Also, there's the factor that Bombadil was being written about before Tolkien had his languages made, so... It's a theory, at best.

*(note): Errors have been known to occur in history, just take Joan of Arc. There was no town name Arc, and Joan was definitely not from it. In fact, her name was Joan Darc. Over the years, a careless scribe made a simple mistake: inserting an apostrophe to produce Joan D'arc, which came about to produce Joan D' Arc, or Joan of Arc. This has been misunderstood for a while now. (End note.)
The Elder Edda was found in 1643 by an icelandian bishop. It was a leather book with poems about the old gods and heros written about 400 years earlier by an unknown writer.

Snorri Sturlason wrote the Yonger Edda, where he also included some of these old poems, but most of it was about skaldic poems. The poet or skald were looked up to and was belived to get his gift from the gods. Every king and chief had skalds who made songs and verses about the kings bravery and might, often made up there and then on the spot. Reminds me of Sams on-the-spot Oliphant poem. Tolkien writes of great respect for those who can sing and create poetry, like the elves and Bilbo and Sam.
This is the link to the poem from the Elder Edda where Tolkien got the names for the dwarves. I knew he got them from there, but seeing the names with my own eyes was a real eye-opener. (English translation of the text and names)

All right, all right, but where does Bombadil come from?
And Saruman? And Sauron? And names like Ungoliant or Gimli?

Somewhat interesting to me: the name Ungoliant is similar in sound to the name Ungit (from C. S. Lewis' novel "Till We Have Faces"). Tolkien's Ungoliant (and her offspring Shelob) are shockingly similar in character to Lewis' Ungit, both being characters of the darkness, and of the devouring kind, destroying what they devour but needing it still, taking and not giving back, getting fat but not nourished. I read somewhere that the name for Lewis's character Ungit comes from the Latin ungo or unguo, both sounding preposterously like possible roots for Ungoliant's name, (if we didn't already know that her name comes from elvish languages Wink Smilie

the latin has apparently to do with annointing or smearing with any fatty substance (usually, oil, as in annointing something holy, which, when you twist the word holy and take it's "good" meaning away, can be generally something dark, hidden, not fully understood, as both Ungit and Ungoliant are....) I can't fathom that these two characters have no connection, especially with the similar names and actions of each, and the fact that Lewis and Tolkien lived in the same circle of people and studied similar subjects.....
The Goliath spiders, a tarantula species, are the biggest spiders known. Maybe that inspired Tolkien for Ungoliant.