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The name Mithrandir refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Mithrandir (disambiguation).

Gandalf acquired many names from the people he met whilst he was in Middle-earth. This article explains each one in full.


Olórin, his original name in Valinor. It is Quenya, and its meaning is associated with the Quenya word olos or olor, meaning "dream" or "vision / of mind".[1][2] In a draft manuscript of The Lord of the Rings, occurs the spelling Olórion.[3]


Mithrandir, ([miˈθrandir]), his Sindarin name, used in Gondor and meaning "Grey Pilgrim" or "Grey Wanderer" (mith "grey" + randir "pilgrim, wandering man").[4][5]

Portrayal in adaptations

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

The people of Gondor call Gandalf "Mithrandir".

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Lindir and Galadriel refer to Gandalf as "Mithrandir".

2014: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:

Thranduil and Galadriel call Gandalf "Mithrandir".


Incánus, his name "in the south" (probably meaning no further south than Gondor or the Near Harad[1]), gained during his long travels in Middle-earth in the mid-Third Age.[6]


Although Incánus seems to be of unclear language and meaning, a note in the Thain's Book says it is a Quenya form simply adapted from a word in the tongue of the Haradrim: Inkā-nūsh (or possibly Inkā-nūs), meaning "North-spy".[1]

Other versions of the legendarium

J.R.R. Tolkien several times changed his mind about the meaning of Incánus. Besides the etymology given above, his other variations were:

  • Archaic Quenya word meaning "Mind-ruler", from in(id)- ("mind") and cáno ("ruler, governor, chieftain")[1]
  • An adaptation from Quenya incānus(se), meaning "mind mastership"[2]
  • A possible Westron invention meaning Greymantle[1]. In a draft manuscript of The Lord of the Rings, different names used were Forlong>>Fornold>>Incânus.[3]


Incánus in Latin means "grey-haired". Although Christopher Tolkien has noted that the "coincidence in form" might be an "accident",[1] his father wrote "Incánus Latin" in a later published manuscript,[2] suggesting that the similarity was perhaps more than a coincidence.


Tharkûn, the name given to Gandalf by the Dwarves.[6] Tharkûn is Khuzdul, meaning either "Grey-man"[2] or "Staff-man"[1]. The word possibly derives from the unattested word thark "staff" + a nominal ending -ûn.[7] In a draft manuscript of The Lord of the Rings, occurs the spelling Sharkûn.[3]

The White Rider

The White Rider, his name while riding the great horse Shadowfax.[8]


Greyhame or Gandalf Greyhame was one of Gandalf's many titles and surnames, used particularly in the country of Rohan.[9]


It was the equivalent in the tongue of the Rohirrim of "Greymantle" or "Greycloak" which would have been grēg-hama.[10]

The name is perhaps a rendering of Incánus, the Westron name for Gandalf (though this is only but one of several competing explanations of the name "Incánus").


Stormcrow was a name given to Gandalf by King Théoden in Rohan, a reference to his arrival being associated with times of trouble.[11]


Láthspell I name you, Ill-news; and ill news is an ill guest they say.
Gríma Wormtongue[11]

Láthspell was a name given to Gandalf by Gríma Wormtongue when the former arrived at Meduseld.


Attempting to keep Théoden weak, Gríma pointed out that Gandalf always seemed to appear in the land of Rohan at times of hardship or war, bearing ill tidings. Gríma's strategy - to get Gandalf denied access to the King - did not succeed, for Gandalf broke his hold over Théoden, and he soon found himself exiled from Edoras.[11]

Other versions of the legendarium

In earlier drafts, it is actually Théoden who refers to Gandalf as Láthspell.[12]


Láthspell translates to "ill news" in Old English and comes from láð, meaning "causing hate, evil, injury" (whence Modern English loath), and spell, meaning "story, message".[13] Compare with gospel, or gōdspell in its Old English form, which means the opposite: "good news", literally translating the Greek term euangelion.

Portrayal in adaptations

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:

Wormtongue uses the quote "Lathspell I name him. Ill news is an ill guest".