Elves were typically given two names at or near birth: a father-name, which often was based on the father's own name or (in later times) was derived from old legends, and a mother-name, which was held to be prophetic.
The epessë was the third type of name, and unlike the other two, it was given later in life, or chosen by the Elf himself. An Elf could be referred to by any of the three, but a self-chosen name typically took preference.
- Maedhros, the oldest son of Fëanor, was by his brothers referred to as Russandol (copper-top): an epessë he had earned because of his ruddy hair. Maedhros itself was an epessë: his father-name had been Nelyafinwë (Finwë the third: Fëanor's own father name had been (Curu)finwë), and his mother-name Maitimo.
- Gil-galad (Star of Radiance) was the mother-name of Rodnor, son of Orodreth. He was given the epessë, Ereinion because of his heritage: literally the name means "scion of Kings".
- Círdan (shipwright) was the epessë of a Telerin Elf who remained in Beleriand, and later Lindon, until the end of the Third Age. His original name had been forgotten, and he was referred to always as Círdan, a title which had been given to him as Lord of the Falas before the First Age.