High Elves have a naming tradition, the essë, which gives an Elf three different names at various times of the lives. They are the essi ("father-name"), the amilessë ("mother-name"), and the epessë ("after-name" or honorary title).
- Essi: chosen by the father and often based on the father's own name or derived from old legends. Given at or near birth.
- Amilessë: chosen by the mother and often prophetic in nature. Given at or near birth.
- Epessë: often chosen by the Elf him- or herself as an honorific later in life.
The amilessë was a private name used by family and close friends. The essi is the name an Elf used in public until an epessë was chosen. In The Silmarillion, when an Elf does not yet have an epessë, the Sindarin version of his mother- or father-name is used instead.
- Maglor: The son of Fëanor of the House of Finwë, was given the essi Canafinwë ("Strong-voiced [of] Finwë"). His amilessë was Makalaurë ("Forging Gold" in a poetic sense). The name Maglor is the Sindarin version of his mother-name.
- Ereinion Gil-galad: The son of Orodreth was given the essi Rodnor. His amilessë was Gil-galad ("Star of Radiance"). As High King of the Noldor, his epessë was Ereinion ("Scion of Kings").
- Finrod Felagund: The son of Finarfin was given the essi of Findaráto ("Golden-haired Champion"). His amilessë was Ingoldo ("The Noldo", singular for Noldor). He is usually referred to as Felagund ("Hewer of Caves"), originally a derogatory nickname given to him because of his dwelling at Nargothrond. Finrod adopted the name as his epessë and made it a title of honour. The name Finrod is the Sindarin version of his father-name.
- Galadriel: The only daughter of Finarfin was given the essi of Artanis ("Noble Woman") and the amilessë of Nerwen ("Man-maiden") because of her height and strength. Her epessë, Alatáriel ("Maiden Crowned with Radiant Garland"), was given to her by her husband, Celeborn. The name Galadriel is the Sindarin version of her epessë.
- Amras: The last son of the House of Finwë was given the essi Telufinwë, ("Last [of] Finwë"). His amilessë was Umbarto ("The Fated"). His mother's choice was prophetic, because Amras was the first of the sons of Fëanor to die, accidentally killed in the swan ships of the Teleri when his father ordered them to be burnt at Losgar. The name Amras is the Sindarin version of his father-name.
Essë is also the name of the thirty-first letter of the Tengwar alphabet.
The original name of the letter Essë was Árë. The word árë was first pronounced "ázë", but over time the phonemes for "z" and "r" merged and the letter Árë became superfluous. Árë was then renamed Essë and obtained the value ss.