ar(a) (prefix “high, noble, royal”) + edhel (“elf”)
Aredhelnoun. high, noble elf
aredhelproper name. Noble Elf
aredhelfeminine name. Noble Elf, Noble-elf
The commonly known name of Turgon’s sister (S/60) and mother of Maeglin (S/133). Her name is a compound of ar(a)- “noble” and Edhel “Elf”, and thus: “Noble Elf” (WJ/318). She was also (less commonly) known by the sobriquet Ar-Feiniel “White Lady” (S/60).
Conceptual Development: This character dates back to the earliest Lost Tales, first appearing as G. Isfin (LT2/165). At this early stage, her name meant “Snow-locks” or “Exceeding-cunning” (LTA2/Isfin). Tolkien kept this name for a long time, and it appeared in The Etymologies from the 1930s as N. Isfin, a compound of N. ist “knowledge” and ON. phinya “skillful”, so: “*Skillful Knowledge” (Ety/IS, Ety/PHIN).
Over time, this name lost any linguistic significance, until Tolkien became dissatisfied with it. Tolkien experimented with various alternate forms, first Íreth (MR/182), briefly Rodwen “High Virgin Noble” (WJ/317), and later either Aredhel or Ar-Feiniel (WJ/317). In the published version of The Silmarillion, Christopher Tolkien used both of the last two names, but elsewhere he admitted that the two names were in competition to replace Isfin, and that Aredhel seems to have been his father’s final choice (WJ/318).
To avoid the issue, this entry assumes that both Aredhel or Ar-Feiniel were sobriquets and that Íreth was her “true” Sindarin name, derived from her given name Q. Írissë. See S. Íreth for further discussion.