Primitive elvish


root. fall (to the ground)

Element in


  • Lat ✧ VT47/29
Primitive elvish [VT47/29] Group: Eldamo. Published by


root. open, unenclosed, free to entry; low, lowlying, at ground level, open, unenclosed, free to entry, [ᴹ√] lie open; be extended, stretch, be situated (of an area); [√] low, lowlying, at ground level

This root has a lengthy history in Tolkien’s development of the Elvish languages.

Its development seems to have begun in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with unglossed ᴱ√LAHA which had derivatives like ᴱQ. “moor, heath, open space” and ᴱQ. lāta- “spread, extend, lie (of country)” (QL/50). This root was compared to a variety of other roots: ᴱ√ALA, ᴱ√AŘA, ᴱ√ṆŘṆ, ᴱ√LAŘA and ᴱ√LATA, but the last of these was a later addition, both to the list and as an entry in the lexicon (QL/51). This newer entry had derivatives like ᴱQ. latwa “smooth, glossy” and ᴱQ. latsin(a) “level, smooth”, the latter transferred from ᴱ√LAHA. This new root also had Gnomish derivatives such as G. lad “a level, a flat; fair dealing” and G. ladin “level, smooth; fair, equitable” (GL/52).

After the 1910s it seems ᴱ√LAHA “✱open” faded out of use (though it may have remerged much later as √LAƷ “cross, pass over, go beyond”: PE17/91), but ᴱ√LATA “✱level, smooth” reappeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as ᴹ√LAT “lie open” with derivatives like ᴹQ. latin(a) “open, free, cleared (of land)” and N. lhand “open space, level” (Ety/LAT). It is also evident in N. -lad “plain” from names like N. Lithlad “Plain of Ash” and N. Dagorlad “Battle Plain” from Lord of the Rings drafts (TI/208, 389), both of which reappeared in the published version (LotR/243, 636).

The root appeared again in the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s with the gloss “be extended, stretch, be situated (of an area)” and a Quenya verb ᴹQ. lat- of similar meaning (PE22/126). In this document it was compared to ᴹ√LAD “lie flat, be flat”, and Tolkien said the two roots were confused in Noldorin as a way of explaining N. laden “flat (and wide)”.

The next appearance of √LAT is in etymological notes from 1959-60 with the gloss “open, unenclosed, free to entry” and contrasted with √PAK “shut” (VT41/5-6). In these notes the derivative Q. latina also reappeared with a meaning similar to the one it had in The Etymologies: “free (of movement), not encumbered with obstacles”. The last appearance of √LAT in currently published materials is in 1968 notes on D/L variations in Common Eldarin, where it was glossed “at ground level, low; lowlying” and compared to √DAT “fall down” (VT48/24); in this document it had no derivatives.

All this amounts to considerable conceptual variation in the meaning of this root. To summarize:

  • 1910s ᴱ√LATA “✱level, smooth” as alternate to ᴱ√LAHA “✱open” (QL/50-51).

  • 1930s ᴹ√LAT “lie open” compared to (unglossed) ᴹ√LAD (Ety/LAD, LAT).

  • 1940s ᴹ√LAT “be extended, stretch, be situated (of an area)” contrasted with ᴹ√LAD “lie flat, be flat” (PE22/126).

  • 1959-60 √LAT “open, unenclosed, free to entry” contrasted with √PAK “shut” (VT41/5-6).

  • 1968 √LAT “at ground level, low; lowlying” contrasted with √DAT “fall down” (VT48/24).

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I think it is best to assume this root has the sense “(lie) open, be extended, unenclosed”, as this is consistent with the largest number of derivatives of the root.


  • ᴺQ. lat “flap, small hinged door, lid”
  • Q. láta “open (not closed)” ✧ PE17/159; VT41/05
  • ᴺQ. latil “key”
  • Q. latina “free (of movement), not encumbered with obstacles, free (of movement), not encumbered with obstacles, [ᴹQ.] open, cleared (of land)” ✧ PE17/159; VT41/05
  • ᴺQ. latsë “area, space, room”
  • ᴺQ. lattin “window”
  • Q. latya “opening”
  • Q. latya- “to open anything (so as to allow entry)” ✧ PE17/159; VT41/05
  • S. lad “plain, valley, plain, valley; [G.] a level, a flat; fair dealing”
  • ᴺS. lad- “to stretch, extend (in length)”
  • ᴺS. ledia- “to open; unlock (transitive)”
  • ᴺS. ledil “key”

Element in

  • Q. avalatya- “to close, shut” ✧ PE17/171; VT41/06
  • Q. imbilat “*deep valley”


  • LAT ✧ PE17/159; PE17/159; PE17/171; VT48/24; VT48/30
  • lat ✧ VT41/05; VT41/06
Primitive elvish [PE17/159; PE17/171; VT41/05; VT41/06; VT48/24; VT48/30] Group: Eldamo. Published by