Primitive elvish


root. gleam, sheen, shine (by reflection)

A root Tolkien introduced in a late note of unclear date to provide a new explanation for the name of Galadriel and Gil-Galad (PE17/59-60). The second element of N. Gil-galad was originally N. calad “light” (Ety/GIL, KAL), and the name of N. Galadriel was originally associated with trees (TI/246, 249); Galadriel was so spelled (rather than Galadhriel) because in Lord of the Rings drafts Tolkien often represented [ð] as d: compare N. Caradras with S. Caradhras. In notes on the words and phrases in The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien revisited Galadriel’s name, deciding that it, like Gil-Galad, was connected to light, from the root √KAL (PE17/50). But this was also unsuitable, since Galadriel began with a g and could not have undergone soft mutation like the name of Gil-Galad.

The introduction of the root ÑGAL “gleem, sheen” resolved this problem, as ✶Ñ(g)alatā-rigelle would become Galadriel in Sindarin, but the intermediate nasal would be lost in ✱Gil-(ñ)galatā (PE17/59-60). Tolkien mentioned this new etymology in a few other places, with slightly different glosses for the root such as √Ŋ(G)AL “shine clear” (PE17/169), √ÑAL “shine, glitter (applied to light reflected from water, metal, glass, gems, etc.)” (NM/353), and √ÑAL “shine by reflection” (PM/347), the last of these from The Shibboleth of Fëanor from 1968, one of the last detailed discussion of the etymologies of these names.


  • aññala “mirror” ✧ NM/350; NM/353
    • Q. angal “mirror, mirror, *reflective surface” ✧ NM/350; NM/353
  • ñ(g)alatā “(reflected) radiance, glitter (of reflected light), glory” ✧ NM/350; NM/353; PE17/059; PE17/169; PM/347
    • Q. nalta “radiance, glittering reflection” ✧ PE17/050; PM/347
    • S. galad “radiance, glittering reflection; light, fire, brightness, shining; bliss, radiance, glittering reflection; light, fire, brightness, shining; bliss; [ᴱN.] dawn” ✧ PM/347
    • T. alata “radiance, glittering reflection” ✧ PM/347
  • Q. nalda “bright, polished (of metal)” ✧ NM/350; NM/353
  • ᴺQ. nalma “reflector, mirror”
  • Q. nalta “radiance, glittering reflection” ✧ NM/350
  • S. gal- “to shine clear, to shine clear, [G.] shine golden as the Sun” ✧ PE17/169

Element in

  • ñaldā “gleaming sheen” ✧ PE17/059
  • yuyuñal “twilight” ✧ PE17/169
  • S. Gil-galad “Starlight, (lit.) Star of Radiance” ✧ PE17/059


  • ÑAL ✧ NM/186; NM/280; NM/353; PM/347
  • ñal- ✧ NM/350
  • ñal ✧ NM/353
  • ŊAL ✧ PE17/169
Primitive elvish [NM/186; NM/280; NM/350; NM/353; PE17/059; PE17/169; PM/347] Group: Eldamo. Published by