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-ma is a Quenya nominal (concretizing) ending denoting a thing (usually object) having something to do with the root meaning; either having its properties or being produced by the verbal action in question; or even being a tool used to accomplish it.

In general, -ma seem to be stuck to naked roots or stems to produce the nouns. Eg. RIL > rilma "glittering light"; verb stems par- "to learn" > parma "book". However, full nouns can be suffixed with -ma to produce another object: Eg. líco "wax" > lícuma "candle".


-ma derives from Primitive Quendian -mâ frequent in the names of implements.[1] Such PQ nouns have yielded Quenya -ma nouns, for example tuimâ > tuima or sjalmâ > hyalma.

In some phonological environments, -ma appears in allomorphs in later Quenya: Nouns in -wa or -ba might conceal a primitive -mâ. For example PQ labmâ > Q lamba (metathesis of bm to mb) or PQ takmâ > Q tangwa (nasalization and strengthening of k before m and velarization of m).[2]

It is obviously related to similar endings like -mo (which indicates a person or doer) or -me (which form a more abstract noun) which behave and operate similarly. For example alma "wealth" vs alme "blessing", carma "tool" vs carme "art".



-ma is a frequent ending of Greek neutral nouns, such as thelema, schema, stigma, enigma etc.[3]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels p.416
  2. Helge Fauskanger, Vicente Velasco (ed.) The Evolution from Primitive Elvish to Quenya
  3. Lise Mann "Elvish Loanwords in Indo-European" An Introduction to Elvish