topon. 'Lonely land'. A Silvan name.
place name. Lonely Land
The region of northwestern Middle-earth containing the Shire (LotR/3, 174). This name was translated “Lonely Land” (PE17/28), also said to be equivalent to “wilderness” (VT42/4). This name is a combination of the ancient forms ✶eryā “isolated, lonely” and ✶ndorē, the second of which developed into S. dôr “land” (SA/dôr, PE17/28, VT42/4).
Possible Etymology: The phonetic development of this name is problematic. If it developed directly from an ancient compound ✶eryā-ndōrē, the [[s|medial [nd] would become [nn]]], as with Ennor < ✶endōrē < ✶ened-ndōrē (LotR/1115), producing ✱✱Eriannor. If it were a late compound, however, its initial element would be the Sindarin form S. air “lonely” < ✶eryā (PE17/28). Most likely the word is of archaic origin, but its final element was changed by analogy with other words containing dôr, as indicated in a note by Tolkien from 1953 (VT42/4). Alternately, in at least one place Tolkien said Eriador was a “Silvan” name (PE17/28), so perhaps it underwent different phonetic development than the Sindarin of Beleriand.
Conceptual Development: In Lord of the Rings drafts from the 1940s, this name first appeared as N. Eriador (TI/455).
Word Gloss eryā “isolated, lonely” dôr “land, land, [N.] region where certain people live, [ᴱN.] country; [G.] people of the land”
Lonely land or Wilderness
There are at least two, slightly different, versions of the etymology of Eriador: Eriador as Sindarin (derived from Noldorin), whose derivation is quoted by Carl F. Hostetter from an unnamed note dated 1949-53. This explains that Eriador is derived from eryā, "isolated, lonely" and dor, "land", thereby translating Eriador as "wilderness". In another manuscript, Tolkien stated that Eriador was a Silvan Elvish name, meaning "Lonely land" (deriving from *eryā, S eir, air).
Both translations are noticeably similar to the "Lone-lands" mentioned in The Hobbit; it is unknown whether they are the same or simply coincidental.