Primitive elvish


root. shine (white); silver glint; white or silver light

This root was the basis for Elvish words for stars and starlight, especially in the Sindarin branch of the Elvish languages. It first appeared as ᴱ√Gil- in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like G. gil- “gleam”, G. giltha “white metal, †silver”, and (probably) G. gail “star” (GL/37-38). Its Early Qenya derivatives were ᴱQ. ilsa “mystic name of silver” (QL/42) and ᴱQ. īle “star” (GL/37), indicating the true form of the root was probably ᴱ√ƷILI, since initial voiced stops were unvoiced in Early Qenya, so that ancient ✱gīle would become ✱✱kíle, not íle.

This root appeared as ᴹ√GIL “shine (white or pale)” in The Etymologies of the 1930s with derivatives like N. geil “star” and ᴹQ. Ilma “Starlight” (Ety/GIL). The root regularly appeared in this unstrengthened form in Tolkien’s later writing, for example as √GIL “shine (white)” in a 1955 letter to David Masson (PE17/152) or as gil “white or silver light” in a 1958 letter to Rhona Beare (Let/278). In one place Tolkien considered giving it a kil- variant, analogous to √GAL vs. √KAL for “(golden) light” (PE17/50), but that seems to have been a transient idea. In other notes dating to the late 1950s Tolkien gave the root in strengthened form as √NGIL “silver glint” (MR/388; PE17/22) and also √GIL >> √ÑGIL as the basis for the initial element of the name S. Gil-galad (PE17/23).

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I think it is best to assume the root was originally unstrengthened √GIL, but was sometimes strengthened to √ÑGIL to produce words like Q. ñille “silver glint”.


  • GILNGIL ✧ PE17/022
  • GILÑGIL ✧ PE17/023


  • gilyā “silver spark” ✧ PE17/152
    • S. gil “star; (bright) spark, silver glint, twinkle of light” ✧ PE17/152
  • ñgillē “silver glint” ✧ PE17/023; PE17/023
    • Q. nillë “silver glint; Valinorian imagines [images of real stars]”
  • Q. ilca- “to gleam (white)”
  • Q. Ilma “Starlight”
  • Q. nillë “silver glint; Valinorian imagines [images of real stars]” ✧ MR/388; PE17/022; PE17/022
  • S. gil “star; (bright) spark, silver glint, twinkle of light” ✧ MR/388; PE17/022; PE17/152
  • ᴺS. gil- “to gleam, shine pale and silver (as of the moon [or stars])”

Element in


  • gil ✧ Let/278; PE17/050
  • GIL ✧ PE17/022 (GIL); PE17/023 (GIL); PE17/069; PE17/152; PE17/153
  • kil ✧ PE17/050
Primitive elvish [Let/278; MR/388; PE17/022; PE17/023; PE17/050; PE17/069; PE17/152; PE17/153; PE17/167; PE17/169] Group: Eldamo. Published by