Primitive elvish


noun. man


  • N(D)ER “male (person), man”


  • S. dîr “man, man, [N.] adult male; agental suffix”
Primitive elvish [PE19/102] Group: Eldamo. Published by


root. male (person), man

This root and ones like it were the basis for Elvish “man” words for much of Tolkien’s life. The earliest form of this root was ᴱ√NERE with derivatives like ᴱQ. ner “man, husband” and ᴱQ. nertu “strength” (QL/65). The latter had a cognate G. nert in contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon, along with a set of related “strength” words (GL/60). But Gnomish also had a set of derivatives based on the elided primitive form ᴱ✶n’reu̯ such as G. †drio “hero” and driog “valiant” (GL/30). Derivatives with an initial n- continued to appear in Early Noldorin word lists from the 1920s, such as ᴱN. †nîr “hero, prince” and ᴱN. ne(i)rion “hero” (PE13/164).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s, the base root was ᴹ√DER “adult male, man (of any race)” with strengthened variant ᴹ√NDER “bridegroom”, but with the Quenya root becoming ᴹ√NĒR “man” under the influence of ᴹ√ “woman” (Ety/DER, NDER, NĒR, NĪ); from this point forward Noldorin/Sindarin derivatives began with d-, such as S./N. dîr “man”. However, in the first version of Tengwesta Qenderinwa from this same period, the primitive root is given as ᴹ√NER “man” (TQ1: PE18/35). On the other hand in Quendian & Common Eldarin Verbal Structure, also from the late 1930s, the root was given as ᴹ√(N)DER “man, male”, again as a strengthening of ᴹ√DER (EVS1: PE22/98).

Starting in the 1950s, Tolkien was more consistent in making the base root √NER with strengthened form √NDER. Tolkien gave √NDER/NER “male person” in Common Eldarin: Verb Structure (EVS2: PE22/133) and Common Eldarin: Noun Structure (PE21/70), both from the early 1950s. In the Quendi and Eldar essay from 1959-60 the base root was √NERE, though Tolkien clarified that the base root as referred more specifically to “physical strength and valour” (WJ/393). The root is given as √NER “man, male” in notes from the late 1960s (VT47/33).


  • Ad. narû “man, male”
  • ndē̆r “man”
    • S. dîr “man, man, [N.] adult male; agental suffix”
  • nēr “man, a male person” ✧ WJ/393
    • Q. nér “man, male person, man, male person; [ᴹQ.] adult male; [ᴱQ.] husband; warrior” ✧ WJ/393
  • Neresā “she that has manlike valour or strength” ✧ WJ/416
    • Q. Nessa “she that has manlike valour or strength” ✧ WJ/416
  • Q. nercë “little man” ✧ VT47/33
  • Q. nerdo “large, strong man” ✧ VT47/33


  • ner ✧ PE21/70
  • nder ✧ PE21/70
  • NDER ✧ PE22/133
  • NER ✧ PE22/133; VT47/33; WJ/416
  • NERE ✧ WJ/393
Primitive elvish [PE21/70; PE22/133; VT47/33; WJ/393; WJ/416] Group: Eldamo. Published by