Primitive elvish


root. take away, take hold of, grasp, take away, take hold of, grasp, [ᴹ√] lay hold of with hand, seize

This root was connected to grabbing things by hand for most of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as ᴱ√MAPA “seize” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. map- “seize, take” and ᴱQ. maptale “robbery” (QL/59). In the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon its main derivative was G. mab “hand” (GL/55). In the Gnomish Lexicon, Tolkien did redefine mab as a dual form of G. “hand”, but it was later restored as an independent word and survived all the way into Sindarin as S. mâb “hand”.

The root reappeared as ᴹ√MAP “lay hold of with hand, seize” in The Etymologies of the 1930s with a similar set of derivatives (Ety/MAP). √MAP was mentioned again in the late 1960s in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals, with glosses like “take hold of, grasp” (VT47/7) and “take away” (VT47/20). But in these same notes Tolkien made the somewhat shocking decision to abandon this root, proposing instead that S. mâb was derived from CE ✶makwā “handful” (VT47/6).

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I would ignore this very late idea, since √MAP appears so regularly in Tolkien’s earlier writings.


  • ᴺQ. amapta- “to ravish, seize and carry off forcibly”
  • Q. maqua “hand-full, group of five (similar) things; hand (colloquial); closing or closed [hand] (facing down) for taking” ✧ VT47/20; VT47/20
  • ᴺS. avautha- “to ravish, seize (forcibly)”
  • ᴺS. mab- “to seize, *grasp, grab; to take away by force”
  • S. mâb “hand, hand, [N.] grasp” ✧ VT47/20
  • T. mapa “hand” ✧ VT47/20
    • T. mapa- “to take hold of, grasp” ✧ VT47/07
  • T. mapa- “to take hold of, grasp” ✧ VT47/07


  • mapa ✧ VT47/20
  • map ✧ VT47/20
Primitive elvish [VT47/07; VT47/20] Group: Eldamo. Published by