Tolkien Gateway


"I should say there were little bears, large bears, ordinary bears, and gigantic big bears, all dancing outside from dark to nearly dawn."

Bears were large and ferocious animals, notorious for their love of honey.[2]


[edit] History

Bears lived in the Misty Mountains for some time, though by the late Third Age, their number had diminished. Gandalf told Bilbo that giants had taken up their homes in that mountain range. One of the alleged origins of Beorn, the skin changer, was that he had descended from them.[1]

[edit] Etymology

Early Noldorin had two words for bear: brôg[3] and megli (with the variation meglivorn "Black bear")[4] In Sindarin, only the word graw is attested,[5] though Didier Willis also suggested the "updated" word Medli.[6] A Quenya word for "bear" is given as morco, sharing a Root with brôg.[3] A variant Quenya name for "bear" is given as morokō (and mor(o)kē, "she-bear").[7]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

In the earliest outlines of The Fall of Gondolin, Tuor was clad in the skins of bears.[8] The sinews of bears were also used to make bowstring[9] and harp strings.[8]

[edit] Other fiction

Bears play a significantly bigger role in other stories, most notably Mr. Bliss and The Father Christmas Letters.

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

Beorn appears only in the shape of a black bear.[12]

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth:

Bears appear as wildlife in the map "Mirkwood".[13]

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Bears are found in many places of Middle-earth and range in size of large dog to the size of a small elephant. They are typically not aggressive, but will fight if the player threatens them. Players that are lore-masters are able to use a bear as a combat pet.

2012-14: The Hobbit (film series):

Beorn appears in the form of brown bear, both in the second and the third film.


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Treebeard"
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "The Etymologies", entry MOROK
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "The Etymologies", entry LIS-
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part One" (edited by Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 47, February 2005, p. 12 (note 3)
  6. Didier Willis, Elfling, message 4007
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Qenya Noun Structure", in Parma Eldalamberon XXI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Patrick H. Wynne and Arden R. Smith), p. 82
  8. 8.0 8.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "The Lay of the Children of Húrin", line 1073 (page 47)
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Mr. Bliss, page 13
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Baillie Tolkien (ed.), Letters from Father Christmas
  12. The Hobbit (2003 video game), "The Clouds Burst"
  13. The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, "Mirkwood"