Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings

From Tolkien Gateway

The Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings, later known as Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings or simply Nomenclature is a collection of notes made by J.R.R. Tolkien after the Dutch and Swedish translations had come out.[1]

Publication history[edit | edit source]

The Guide was first published in A Tolkien Compass, edited by Christopher Tolkien.[2] It was included in Open Court's first hardcover edition and Del Rey Books' paperback, but was dropped from the second edition at the request of Tolkien Estate, the legal owners of the text.[3]

A new edition by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull – called Nomenclature – was published in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion.

Differences between editions[edit | edit source]

General differences[edit | edit source]

  • Christopher Tolkien's edition is a reader's edition rather than the annotated facsimile edition of Hammond and Scull: short, stenographic sentences and abbreviations are written out in full, and it is generally written for a less linguistic audience. Hammond and Scull included a list of abbreviations, as well as extra notes within straight brackets.
  • Christopher Tolkien's edition follows his father's text in that it refers to the second, revised edition,[2] while Hammond and Scull also include references to their own 50th Anniversary Edition in straight brackets.[1]
  • The first two sections have been renamed in Christopher Tolkien's edition: Names of Persons and Peoples and Place-names versus Persons, Peoples, Creatures and Places. The name of the third section, Things, is not changed.

Smaller differences[edit | edit source]

  • Barrow-wight: Hammond and Scull misspell the Dutch version, as well as its English translation: grafghest and "grave-ghast"[1] rather than proper grafgeest.[4]
  • Beechbone: Hammond and Scull spelled Buchenbein as Büchenbein, the former one is the actual German translation.[2]
  • Fair Folk: Christopher Tolkien moves it below Fairbairns.[2]
  • Grey Pilgrim and Grey Host: Christopher Tolkien moves them below Greyhame.[2]
  • Greyhame: Christopher Tolkien refers to the language of Rohan as "Rohan",[2] Hammond and Scull as "Rohanese".[1] It is the only occurrence of "Rohanese"[note 1]; the rest of the Hammond and Scull-edition uses the word "Rohan".
  • Heathertoes: Christopher Tolkien spells the suggested German translation as Heidezhen,[2] Hammond and Scull as Heidezehn.[1] Margaret Carroux would eventually use the plural Heidezehen, Wolfgang Krege singular Heidezeh.[5]
  • Orc: Christopher Tolkien misspells Anglo-Saxon orc-neas as orc-nass[2]
  • Wizard: Christopher Tolkien omits this entry.[2]
  • Wormtongue: Christopher Tolkien misspells the Rohan form as wyrm-tunga, Hammond and Scull give wyrm-tunge.
  • Woses: Christopher Tolkien mistranscribes the explanation as "old men of the woods". Hammond and Scull give "wild men".
  • Deadman's Dike: Christopher Tolkien omits this entry.[2]
  • Lithe: Hammond and Scull combine this with the entries Yule and Midwinter.[1]
  • Mathom: Hammond and Scull omit this entry.[1]
  • Smials: Hammond and Scull omit this entry.[1]
  • Yule: See Lithe. Christopher Tolkien omits the passage about Midwinter.[2]

The manuscript[edit | edit source]

Several extracts from the manuscript of the Nomenclature were quoted in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion (see for example p. 163), including information that is not found in the final version.[6]


  1. The name "Rohanese" also occurred in J.R.R. Tolkien's essay The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor, as Hammond and Scull quoted in their notes to Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings.