This root was connected to words for “many” throughout Tolkien’s life. In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s it appeared as ᴱ√LĪ, with variant ᴱ√ILI “many” and extended form ᴱ√LIYA (LI + ya) “unite many as one” with derivatives like ᴱQ. lia- “entwine” and ᴱQ. liante “tendril” (QL/42, 53). In later writings there is no sign of the inversion √IL “many” (later √IL meant “all”), whereas ᴱ√LIYA seems to have shifted to unrelated ᴹ√SLIG with derivatives like ᴹQ. lia “fine thread, spider filament” and ᴹQ. liante “spider” (Ety/SLIG).
The base root ᴹ√LI “many” did reappear in The Etymologies of the 1930s, however (Ety/LI), and √LI “many” appeared again in etymological notes from the late 1960s (VT48/25). The long-standing connection between this root and the Quenya (partitive) plural suffixes indicates its stability in Tolkien’s mind.