Heathertoes Family

From Tolkien Gateway

Heathertoes was one of the strange botanical names preferred by the people of Bree.

Etymology[edit]

While heather is an element that appears in English real-life surnames, Heathertoes has no parallel in English.

Tolkien suggested that the name refers to a joke of the Big Folk for the Little Folk, who walked bootless and collected heather, twigs and leaves between their toes.[1] The name "Pickthorn" could be explained as a similar joke, meaning that barefoot Hobbits would be constantly picking thorns out of their feet. But "little Tom Pickthorn from over the Hill" is also described in "Homeward Bound" as a Man who was killed fighting ruffians.

Men or Hobbits?[edit]

The above etymology implies that "Heathertoes" was a name given to Hobbits by Men. However in the narrative the name is listed among those used by the Men,[2] and Mat Heathertoes, who is named as one of the casualties of Bree during fighting there, is listed among Men rather than Hobbits.[3]

References