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Did you ever wonder...How Tolkien's dwarves got their names?

The Shire

Feb 7 2013, 11:54pm

Post #1 of 15 (1199 views)
Did you ever wonder...How Tolkien's dwarves got their names? Can't Post

Have you ever wondered where all the names for the dwarves (in the Hobbit) came from?
Tolkien was really into manuscripts and Old English and Norse Sagas (as it just so happens, so am I) . Smile
Being a great scholar in this venue, at some time or other, he came across the Prose Edda, or the Younger Edda. It was written by Snorri Sturluson. I have a brief bio below I got off the internet:
Snorri Sturluson was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was twice elected lawspeaker at the Icelandic parliament, the Althing. Wikipedia
Born: 1179, Iceland
Died: September 23, 1241, Reykholt
Books: Gylfaginning, Skáldskaparmál, Háttatal, The Prose Edda, Edda, Heimskringla, From the sagas of the Norse kings, Harald the RuthlessMore

The Prose Edda for those who do not know, basically tells the Norse Creation Myth. Anyways, the first time I read this, everything was new news to me until I got to the part that talked about how the first Dwarves were created. It also gives a generous list of names of the dwarves. You're bound to recognize a few. Although the spelling isn't exactly the same for all the names, you just can tell. I also give commentary (the bold letters off to the side).
Here it is:
10. Then was Mötsognir
created greatest
of all the dwarfs,
and Durin second;
there in man's likeness
they created many
dwarfs from the earth,
as Durin said.

11. Nýi and Nidi,
Nordri and Sudri,
Nordi, Sudri, Asutri, and Vestri (North, South, East, and West) support the

Asutri and Vestri,
dome of the sky on their backs. Each faces a different direction.
Althiöf, Dvalin
Nár and Náin,
Niping, Dáin,
Bivör, Bavör,
I take it that Bivor is the origin of Bifur.
Bömbur, Nori,
An and Anar,
Ai, Miödvitnir,

12. Veig and Gandálf,
Gandalf means "an elf with a staff"
Vindálf, Thráin,
Thekk and Thorin,
Thror, Vitr, and Litr,
Núr and Nýrád,
Regin and Rádsvid.
Now of the dwarfs I have
rightly told.

13. Fili, Kili,
Fundin, Nali,
Hepti, Vili,
Hanar, Svior,
Billing, Bruni,
Bild, Búri,
Frár, Hornbori,
Frćg and Lóni,
Aurvang, Iari,

14. Time ´tis of the dwarfs
in Dvalin´s band,
I'm certain that "Dvalin" is the origin of Dwalin.
to the sons of men,
to Lofar up to reckon,
those who came forth
from the world´s rock,
earth´s foundation,
to Iora´s plains.

15. There were Draupnir,
and Dólgthrasir,
Hár, Haugspori,
Hlćvang, Glói,
Perhaps "Gloi" is Gloin
Skirvir, Virvir,
Skafid, Ai,
Alf and Yngvi,

16. Fjalar and Frosti,
Finn and Ginnar,
Heri, Höggstari,
Hliódolf, Móin:
that above shall,
while mortals live,
the progeny of Lofar,
accounted be.

Greetings from the Lonely Mountain,

(This post was edited by Erriadair on Feb 7 2013, 11:56pm)


Feb 8 2013, 2:10am

Post #2 of 15 (577 views)
Wow! [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting! Thanks for sharing!! ^_^


Feb 8 2013, 2:31am

Post #3 of 15 (588 views)
This was discussed just recently... [In reply to] Can't Post

...in the Rohan Marley thread, here.


Feb 8 2013, 2:52am

Post #4 of 15 (579 views)
Cool [In reply to] Can't Post

I submit that Dvalin and Dwalin are spelled exactly the same.

Balin may be named for Sir Balin le Savage, or "The Knight with Two Swords."

In Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (Winchester Manuscript) Balin is one of the titular characters in the second chapter, The Tale of Balin and Balan.

Not that it relates to Balin of Tolkien's company of dwarves (at least not that I'm aware), but Balin's tale is a tragic one: Sir Balin was a knight at King Arthur's court before the Round Table was made; in a short space of time, Balin obtains a possibly cursed sword that only the most virtuous knight in the land could draw; beheads the Lady of the Lake with it when she demands Balin's head from King Arthur in payment for Excalibur; is banished from Arthur's court; after many twists, turns and much ruin, ends up using the sword to kill his brother Balan who was defending a castle against his will; and ends up dying shortly after from the wounds his brother gave him. Balin and the sword are associated with the infamous Dolorous Stroke.

Actually the tale is more complicated and colourful than I've described. The sword by the way eventually is obtained by Lancelot and is used by him to wound Sir Gawain during the Lancelot/Guinevere affair, leading to Gawain's death. (With thanks to Wikipedia for the memory jog.)

All this is to say that it's a safe bet that Tolkien was aware of Balin of Arthur legend.

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Feb 8 2013, 3:01am)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Feb 8 2013, 12:55pm

Post #5 of 15 (537 views)
I remember being awed, the first time I learned this. [In reply to] Can't Post

Notice at the end of 13 and 15: Eikinskialkdi, or..."Oakenshield".

A question: what names from this list, do you wish Tolkien had used? Or are there names there, which you are glad did not make it into the story?


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

Grey Havens

Feb 8 2013, 1:22pm

Post #6 of 15 (547 views)
Frosty [In reply to] Can't Post

I think skipping Frosti was a good call, he'd be confused with Disney's Seven. Laugh

Alassëa Eruvande

Feb 8 2013, 2:22pm

Post #7 of 15 (556 views)
Vindálf [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder if "Vindálf" means "elf with wine". Laugh

I wonder if Legolas was invoking the name of "Ai" when he hollered, "Ai, ai, a balrog is come!"

I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!


Feb 8 2013, 2:44pm

Post #8 of 15 (535 views)
I'm glad he skipped Miödvitnir [In reply to] Can't Post

Not as pronunciation-friendly as the others.

Thekk would have made a good relative of the the Thror/Thrain/Thorin family.

I forget the father of Fili/Kili, but Vili would be a great choice there.

Regin is a cool name; would have been nice to see it worked in.

Aragalen the Green

Feb 8 2013, 3:54pm

Post #9 of 15 (537 views)
Father of Fili and Kili [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think this is ever mentioned in TH or LOTR (or appendices); their mother was Dis, sister to Thorin. It may be mentioned in other Tolkien publications, but I've never seen it.

If someone can correct me, that would be great!

'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'

Aragalen the Green

Feb 8 2013, 3:56pm

Post #10 of 15 (511 views)
This is wonderful, thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

I have read a little about the origin of the Dwarf-names, but really appreciate this list! Now I have to read the Prose Edda.

'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'


Feb 8 2013, 6:00pm

Post #11 of 15 (520 views)
There's an interesting discussion on the 'Dwergatal' here: [In reply to] Can't Post


So where these names originally came from, is unknown.

"Don't take life seriously, it ain't nohow permanent!" Pogo

Aragalen the Green

Feb 8 2013, 8:53pm

Post #12 of 15 (502 views)
"Mead-sucker"! :P [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, thank you for this link! I have lots of reading to do now :)

'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'

The Shire

Feb 9 2013, 1:45am

Post #13 of 15 (540 views)
Link [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's the link to the free kindle edition on Amazon. Even if you don't have a kindle I think you can download it onto your computer. Enjoy, and tell me how you like it!


(This post was edited by Erriadair on Feb 9 2013, 1:46am)


Feb 10 2013, 3:07pm

Post #14 of 15 (469 views)
*eyebrows shoot up!* Wow! Awesome :D // [In reply to] Can't Post


Second draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List - updated list coming soon


I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!

TIME Google Calendar
TORn's Geeky Observations Lists (updated soon)


Feb 13 2013, 2:46am

Post #15 of 15 (456 views)
So Durin means "Dusky"? [In reply to] Can't Post




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