Primitive elvish


root. bake, bake, [ᴱ√] cook; [ᴹ√] knead

This root was connected to bread and baking for all of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as ᴱ√M(B)ASA “cook, bake” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. maksa- “cook” and ᴱQ. masta “bread” (QL/59). In this period, both unstrengthened and strengthened forms were used as indicated by the Gnomish roots bas or mas (QL/59), both reflected by words in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon like G. bast “bread”, G. brath- “to cook”, and G. mast “feed, food, nourishment; fodder” (GL/22, 24, 56), though the mas- words seem to be influenced by ᴱ√MATA “eat”.

The root appeared as ᴹ√MBAS in The Etymologies of the 1930s with the derivatives like ᴹQ. masta/N. bast “bread” and ᴹQ. masta- “bake” (Ety/MBAS). When this root was first written it had the gloss “knead” and an unstrengthened form ᴹ√MAS, but both of these were crossed through (EtyAC/MBAS). The sense “knead” was transferred to the root ᴹ√MASAG, which still shows signs of unstrengthened ᴹ√MAS (Ety/MASAG). The root √MBAS “bake” appeared again in notes from the 1960s discussing the origin of S. lembas (PE17/51).


  • mbassē “(baked) bread” ✧ PE17/051
    • Q. massa “bread” ✧ PE17/052
  • mbasta “batch” ✧ PE17/051
  • ᴺQ. maxa- “to cook”
  • S. bas(t) “bread”
  • ᴺS. basta- “to bake”
  • ᴺS. bothol “oven”

Element in

  • mbasta “batch” ✧ PE17/051
  • mbazdā “baked or a baked thing” ✧ PE17/051; PE17/051
  • S. lembas “waybread, journey-bread” ✧ PE17/051
Primitive elvish [PE17/051; PE17/165] Group: Eldamo. Published by