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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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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

The people of Gondor call Gandalf "Mithrandir".

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

Denethor II, son of Ecthelion II, and 26th Steward of Gondor is the first person from Gondor to 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[edit | edit source]

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]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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]

Inspiration[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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

Greyhame[edit | edit source]

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

Etymology[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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.

History[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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

Etymology[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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

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