Primitive elvish


root. knowledge, wisdom, lore, knowledge, wisdom, lore; [ᴹ√] wise, be wise

This root was connected to Elvish words for “wisdom” for much of Tolkien’s life, the most notable derivative being Q. Noldo. In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s it was given as ᴱ√ŇOL(O) “know”, where the Ň almost certainly represented velar nasal Ŋ (QL/67). It was originally given simply as ŇOLDO “goblin, gnome” along with a derivative ᴱQ. noldare “mole”, but the “goblin” entries were removed and “mole” was transferred to ᴱ√NDOLO “delve”, so the connection of this root to knowledge was a very early decision. In the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon primitives forms were likewise given as ᴱ✶ŋolđō > G. golda “gnome, wise one” (GL/41).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s the root appeared as ᴹ√ÑGOL “wise, wisdom, be wise” along with an extended form ᴹ√ÑGOLOD serving as the basis for ᴹQ. Noldo/N. Golodh (Ety/ÑGOL; ÑGOLOD). This root and its extended form were mentioned regularly in Tolkien’s later writings, with glosses like “knowledge” (PE17/79) and “knowledge, wisdom, lore” (WJ/383), and in one place Tolkien clarified that it was “deep knowledge not ‘occult’ in modern sense, but applied to the deeper knowledge of the ‘wise’ or skilled persons, not kept secret ... but [also] not attainable by all” (PE17/79).


  • Bs. gûl “phantom, shadow of dark magic, wraith; †black arts, sorcery” ✧ PE17/079
  • ñgōlē “Science/Philosophy as a whole” ✧ PM/360
    • Q. ingolë “lore, science, philosophy, lore, science, philosophy; [ᴹQ.] deep lore, magic” ✧ PM/360
  • ñgolodō “lore-master, sage” ✧ PM/360; WJ/383
    • Q. Ingoldo “The Noldo” ✧ PM/360
    • S. Fingolfin ✧ PE17/118
    • Wes. Ingold ✧ PM/360
    • Aq. ñgoldō “Noldo”
    • Q. Noldo “one of the wise folk, Gnome” ✧ MR/350; MR/470; PE17/141; PE17/153; PE19/076; PM/360; WJ/364; WJ/380; WJ/383
    • S. Noll “Noldo” ✧ PE17/141
    • S. Angolodh “The Noldo” ✧ PM/360
    • S. Golodh “one of the wise folk, Noldo” ✧ MR/350; PE17/153; PM/360; WJ/364; WJ/379; WJ/383
    • S. golodh “lore-master, sage” ✧ MR/470; PE17/139; PE17/140; PE17/141
    • T. Goldo “Noldo” ✧ PM/360; WJ/383
  • Q. ingolë “lore, science, philosophy, lore, science, philosophy; [ᴹQ.] deep lore, magic” ✧ WJ/383
  • Q. Noldo “one of the wise folk, Gnome” ✧ SA/gûl
    • S. Noll “Noldo” ✧ PE17/141
  • Q. nólë “lore, knowledge, long study, lore, knowledge, long study; [ᴹQ.] wisdom” ✧ PE17/079; SA/gûl; WJ/383
  • ᴺQ. nolmar “school, university, (lit.) wisdom-house”
  • Q. nolmë “knowledge, philosophy (including science), department of wisdom (science, etc.)” ✧ PM/360
  • Q. nolmo “wise person” ✧ PM/360
  • ᴺQ. nolta- “to teach, *educate, tutor, (lit.) make knowledgable”
  • ᴺQ. nolya- “to study, learn”
  • ᴺS. golbar “school, university, (lit.) wisdom-house”
  • ᴺS. golthor “teacher”
  • S. gûl “black arts, sorcery, (evil) knowledge, black arts, sorcery, (evil) knowledge, [N.] magic; [ᴱN.] wisdom” ✧ PE17/079; SA/gûl; WJ/383
    • Bs. gûl “phantom, shadow of dark magic, wraith; †black arts, sorcery” ✧ PE17/031; PE17/125
  • T. engole “lore” ✧ WJ/383
  • T. góle “long study (of any subject)” ✧ WJ/383

Element in

  • ÑGOLOD “*one of the wise folk, Gnome, [ᴹ√] one of the wise folk, Gnome”
  • Q. Nolofinwë ✧ PM/344
  • ᴺS. gelia- “to learn”
  • ᴺS. goltha- “to teach, educate, tutor, (lit.) make knowledgable”


  • ngōl- ✧ PE17/079
  • Ñolo ✧ PM/344
  • ñgol-/ñgōlo- ✧ PM/360
  • ngol- ✧ SA/gûl
  • NGOL ✧ WJ/383
Primitive elvish [PE17/079; PM/344; PM/360; SA/gûl; WJ/383] Group: Eldamo. Published by


root. dark-hued, dark-brown

In most places, Tolkien assigned the root √ÑGOL the meaning “knowledge, wisdom”, and it was the source of the tribal name of the Noldor. In one set of late notes, however, Tolkien said:

> Delete all references of Noldo to “wisdom, lore”! This characteristic only clearly seen later — the Tribal names must be early formations ... √ÑGOL = dark-hued, dark-brown ... The predominant colour of Ñoldorin hair was very dark brown (PE17/125).

The problem with this scenario is that elsewhere the root √ÑGOL is deeply associated with wisdom. Although Tolkien did not explicitly reject √ÑGOL “dark-hued, dark-brown”, this scenario is mentioned nowhere else. Nevertheless, it is possible that the Primitive Quenderin sense of ÑGOL was originally “dark-hued, dark-brown” and the root later developed the meaning “knowledge, wisdom” by association with the Noldor, replacing the older meaning. If so, perhaps the only survival of the original meaning is the word Q. ñolya “dark-haired”. Alternately, ñolya might mean “hair like the Noldor (dark)”.


  • Aq. ñolda “dark-haired” ✧ PE17/125
    • Q. Noldo “one of the wise folk, Gnome” ✧ PE17/125
    • S. Noll “Noldo” ✧ PE17/141
  • Q. nolya “dark-haired, dark-haired, *brown-haired” ✧ PE17/125


  • ÑGOL ✧ PE17/125; PE17/169
Primitive elvish [PE17/125; PE17/169] Group: Eldamo. Published by


adjective. wise


  • ndāra/nāradāra ✧ PE17/102


  • Q. tára “wise” ✧ PE17/102
  • S. Daur “Frodo” ✧ PE17/102


  • ndāra/nāra ✧ PE17/102 (ndāra/nāra)
Primitive elvish [PE17/102] Group: Eldamo. Published by