From Tolkien Gateway
Latest comment: 3 February by Aeglos in topic Later ages


The following external links no longer work:

The Origin of the Orcs (htm version) The Origin of the Orcs (doc version) The Origin of the Orcs (pdf version)

I got: The webpage cannot be found Unsigned comment by (talk • contribs).

I solved the problem by deleting it :). It was inappropriate anyway, and the whole article needs to be rewritten. -- Ederchil (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 10:51, 26 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Which article? Sage 12:25, 26 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh this article. Too much work to be done by 1.5 persons (= I am doing 0.4 of your work and the rest 0.1 belongs to occasional contributors) Sage 12:27, 26 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I won't be doing much either. Just got an angry email that there was a deadline last week. So I got to focus on that first -- Ederchil (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 12:51, 26 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's my point... where can we find more contributors? :) Sage 17:55, 26 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I edited the "Orcs and Goblins" section heavily to remove unfounded comments about "goblins" being a Hobbitish term when it is, in fact, an English word. I also cut down on some unfounded claims in the "Controversy" section. Eldorion

There needs to be a serious section in this article about the culture and ethics of Orcs, and whether Orcs are ultimately free to choose good or evil. I've seen other wikis touch on this issue, but this article barely does. A lot of people (myself included) have never been thrilled about the whole "evil race" concept played completely straight.
As an entirely personal belief (not something I would expect to put in the article), I think Orcs have the ability to live as good Avari, and that it's the established traditions of Orc culture that inspire evil, and that Elves who do evil and ill-inspired acts (such as Fëanor and his sons along with Eöl and Maeglin) essentially make themselves Orcs, and that the difference of appearance between Elves and Orcs ("fair" vs. "ugly") is ultimately meaningless. The Silmarils knew the difference, and they burned evil and corruption when it touched them. I'm not sure Tolkien would completely disagree, as he once said, "We were all Orcs in the Great War." But I digress... - Gilgamesh 12:12, 26 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I just (4/5/2011) summarized Letter 153 (a very long summary) for the Tolkien Gateway, wherein Tolkien dug very deeply into the metaphysics of Middle-earth. On the subject of Orcs, innate Free Will, their "evil race" status, and such, this letter probably gives Tolkien's "clearest" answers. -- Gamling 01:07, 6 April 2011 (UTC)


I just would like to ask an question in regards to the origin of the orcs. First off I have no preferance either way, be it men or elves, but I would like to raise the point of time. Men awoke at the rising of the sun, so wouldn't this then pose a problem for Melkor when he made the orcs in the first war in Beleriand, for the sake of the elves.? Unless he can time shift and or travel. So then we are left with a rather interesting situation, any thoughts? Unsigned comment by GaiusMarius (talk • contribs).

Sorry, you've lost me? Do you mean that as Melkor created orcs in opposition to elves he had no "opposite" to men? --Mith (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 14:09, 6 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is not an issue. In Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed (where Tolkien writes at length concerning the cosmology of Arda, and the origins of Orcs), Tolkien shifts the timeline to move the awakening of Men to be not long after that of Elves - during the Great March. This is actually done for other reasons, but serves to enable Men as a legitimate source for Orcs. Sorry for being anon, but I don't feel like signing up for an account. Find me as Túrin at if you want. Unsigned comment by (talk).
Sorry, but this is still a GREAT issue, not resolved by just simply changing the timeline. If men awoke at such an early time, it makes no sense that when the Noldor returned to Middle-Earth, Beleriand wasn't full of human kingdoms already, and that men had such a primitive culture. The episode of Finrod being the first Noldo to befriend men would make no sense, for example, neither his special bond with Beor's house (with all the consequences that would have in later tales). A major reworking of the legends would be needed just to fit this version of the origin of the orcs. Unsigned comment by (talk).
It is indeed an issue that this article makes the unequivocal statement it does. As pointed out above, Tolkien's changing ideas about the origins of orcs are discussed in Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed, and the article needs to mention these various ideas.-- KingAragorn  talk  contribs  edits  email  22:48, 21 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Etymology and Names

JRRT notes the Nandorin word for orcs in PE17 (p. 54) ūriƒ. However, I'm uncertain about how to the render the last letter in the word - the original form of the letter is similar, but does not carry the small horizontal line. Is this a letter of its own, or merely a variant rendering of ƒ? --Morgan 01:24, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There is the "long s" ſ (and the similar Esh ʃ). Do these seem likely? --Mith (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 09:41, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Many thanks, Mith! It's the Esh (ʃ) - could you please add it to the insert box? --Morgan 09:43, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Added both.--Mith (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 10:07, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Orc - Rohirric or Westron

Quote: "This spelling was taken from Old English. The word seemed, in itself, very suitable to the creatures that I had in mind. But the Old English orc in meaning - so far as that is known - is not suitable. Also the spelling of what, in the later more organized linguistic situation, must have been a Common Speech form of a word or group of similar words should be ork."

Quote: "Orc. This is supposed to be the Common Speech name of these creatures at that time; it should therefore according to the system be translated into English, or the language of translation. It was translated 'goblin' in The Hobbit, except in one place; but this word, and other words of similar sense in other European languages (as far as I know), are not really suitable. The orc in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, though of course partly made out of traditional features, is not really comparable in supposed origin, functions, and relation to the Elves. In any case orc seemed to me, and seems, in sound a good name for these creatures. It should be retained."

Orc, or rather, the spelling of Orc is FROM Old English in reality, and the word itself was Westron in Middle-earth, NOT Rohirric, so I conclude.

It´s not like the other OE-for-Rohirric words in the LotR. Tolkien just retained this word from Westron, and where he did translate this 3rd age word, he translated it into Modern English.--SUM EGO 06:37, 23 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I just found the quote for orc being (also?) Rohirric, "Orc is the form of the name that other races had for this foul people as it was in the language of Rohan."
I undid my previous edit, and I'm sorry for it, but still I think the Orcs and Goblins section need to be improved.--SUM EGO 07:25, 23 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK, good.-- KingAragorn  talk  contribs  edits  email  13:01, 23 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Note the word "races". Doesn't it imply not just in the language of Rohan? Trahald 13:22, 24 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Seems like I have to put more source to support my argument.

"Orc is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is usually translated goblin ... Orc is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these creatures, and it is not connected at all with our orc, ork..." --- The Hobbit

Still no one try to rewrite the Orcs and Goblins section?

This section as it appears to me at the latest revision still needs correction. Asserting Orc being Old English here alone may be misleading. The subject needs more elaboration, which has already been done in "Orc" (why is "Orc" not simply part of "Etymology" though). Anyway, I think this part should be replaced with stuff that actually supports the idea that goblin and Orc are synonyms. Trahald 11:26, 24 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My mistake, "Orc" IS a subsection of "Etymology". Trahald 13:18, 24 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I removed it and added some quotes. The content removed which stated goblin being English and Orc being Old English,and thus synonymous, seemed to me a mix of internal and external histories of the word. No proper reasoning is behind it. Unsigned comment by (talk • contribs).
Really lazy reference there: "in The Hobbit". --LorenzoCB 09:22, 28 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Gong" redirect link

Since the Gongs have their own article, could it be possible to change the redirect link on Gong to lead to that page, instead? Bauglir100 12:50, 11 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Done. Although whether Gongs needs a separate article needs to be established, but in the meantime we should be consistent in any case. --Mith (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 13:08, 11 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Removed something unsourced

I have removed the following:

"This was evidently mainly to avoid the form Orcish, which would be naturally pronounced with the c as /s/ instead of /k/. (In Tolkien's languages the letter c was always pronounced /k/.) "

Proclaiming the Orcish should be pronounced with an /s/ is, I think, wrong. That may be the common pronunciation in Latin-derived English words, but Orc is supposed to be a Sindarin word and Tolkien can transliterate it however he likes. Unsigned comment by (talk).

Etymology for orcs

The name of the species "Orc" did NOT derive from the Latin Orcus. Orcus, as I have mentioned is Latin, and thus as alien to Middle-earth as would be Mandarin or Korean.

The word "Orc" derives from the Saxon Orcnéas, and Orcdhyrs (both words for Ogres). Unsigned comment by (talk).

You are right, according to Wikipedia article Tolkien doubted that Orc comes from Orcus. However Latin is not so alien to M-e (cf. Gerontius). Sage 10:01, 13 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Latin and Italian names were especially common in the Took family... --Tik 19:45, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

Orcs vs. Orks

Shouldn't the correct spelling be "Orks" instead of "Orcs"? At least, that's from Tolkien's latest writings{{MR|Myths}}Unsigned comment by Woolly Mammoth (talk • contribs).

I agree with this. Though only when not referring to the goblins of The Hobbit and the Orcs of LOTR and The Silmarillion. Basically, I think this should be the term outside of plot summaries and stuff like that since this was Tolkien’s final term. --Dour1234, 12 April 2022 (UTC)
No. Unless it is a literal cite, we need to keep the consistency. --LorenzoCB 09:34, 13 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

More on etymology

An anonymous user removed this paragraph:

However, it is also mentioned that the word ''Orc'' is Anglo-Saxon for "Foreigner, Monster, Demon" and was used to refer to the Normans invading the Anglish in 1066.<ref>"[ 1066 The Battle for Middle Earth]" 2009 (documentary)</ref>

The justification was that the statement is wrong, because the AS word for "foreigner" was wealas.

Now, I don't know the source of the information that orc was used in that context (the original paragraph cited a docudrama) but the word wealas does not overrule the existence of more words for "foreigner" in other colors; for instance, there are several words for "sword", "battle", "hero", "lord" etc. I agree that the statement needs a better citation. Sage 13:10, 18 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


What source describes orcs with fangs ? Unsigned comment by Erendis (talk • contribs).

The following are all from LOTR:

‘If I had my way, you’d wish you were dead now,’ said the other. ‘I’d make you squeak, you miserable rat.’ He stooped over Pippin, bringing his yellow fangs close to his face.

In the red glare Sam, cowering behind the stair-door, caught a glimpse of his evil face as it passed: it was scored as if by rending claws and smeared with blood; slaver dripped from its protruding fangs; the mouth snarled like an animal.

And Shagrat could not both fight and keep hold of his treasure. He stopped, growling, baring his fangs.

--Mord 07:55, 25 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks a lot :) -Erendis (Sorry, I dont know how to sign a comment :/)
No problem! You can type four tildes (~) in a row to sign a comment. --Mord 20:29, 25 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Later ages

Would it be appropriate to add something in this section about the narrator comment in The Hobbit that orcs/goblins are likely responsible for instruments of death and cruelty that have troubled the world?-- 21:22, 26 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In my opinion it is not necessary to add such a vague and speculative ("likley") statement. --Akhorahil (talk) 21
48, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

I feel like I read at some point something about orcs mingling with men to the point that their orc ancestry would no longer be apparent. Does this sound like anything Tolkien actually wrote, or am I misremembering things?Aeglos (talk) 11:44, 3 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]