Primitive elvish


root. fine thread, filament; hair

Tolkien had Elvish “hair” words that began with fin- for most of his life, but the details of their derivation evolved. The earliest form of this root was unglossed ᴱ√FIÐI [FIÐI] in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. findl “lock of hair” and ᴱQ. firin “ray of sun” (QL/38). It also had derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. fiðra “collective hair” and {findel >>} G. finn “a lock of hair” (GL/35), the latter an element in the name G. Glorfindel “Golden Hair”, a name that retained this form and meaning for all of Tolkien’s life.

In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien had unglossed ᴹ√SPIN with derivatives like ᴹQ. finde “tress, braid of hair” and N. finnel “(braided) hair” (Ety/SPIN). He made a point that this root was distinct from ᴹ√PHIN “nimbleness, skill” (Ety/PHIN), a distinction he reemphasized in later writings as well (PE17/17, 119). The additional form ᴹQ. fine “larch” (a species of tree with needle-like leaves) indicates the 1930s root was not limited exclusively to “hair” (Ety/SPIN). The root √SPIN appeared a number of times in Tolkien’s later writings, variously glossed “single hair, filament” >> “fine thread, filament” (PE17/17), “lock, tress of human/elvish hair” as extended √SPIN-ID (PE17/119), or “single hair” (PE17/185). However, in The Shibboleth of Feanor from 1968 Tolkien gave the root as √PHIN “hair” (PM/340).

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I would ignore this 1968 change of √SPIN >> √PHIN. Furthermore, I would assume √SPIN referred to a single hair or other kind of filament, and extended √SPINID referred to a tress of hair.


  • phini- “a single hair”
    • S. fîn “(single) hair, filament” ✧ PM/362
  • phinik ✧ PE17/017
    • Q. finca “[unglossed]” ✧ PE17/017
    • S. fing “lock of hair” ✧ PE17/017
  • spindē “tress, braid of hair” ✧ PE17/017
    • S. find “tress; single hair, tress, [ON.] lock of hair; [ᴱN.] hair (in general); [S.] single hair” ✧ PE17/017
  • phindē “tress”
    • S. find “tress; single hair, tress, [ON.] lock of hair; [ᴱN.] hair (in general); [S.] single hair” ✧ PM/362
  • spini- “thin thread” ✧ PE17/017
    • S. esbin “thin thread, tress” ✧ PE17/017
  • Q. findë “hair (especially of the head), tress or plait of hair, hair (especially of the head); tress or plait of hair, [ᴹQ.] braid of hair” ✧ PE17/119; PM/340
  • Q. finë “(single) hair, filament” ✧ PE17/017; PE17/017; PM/340
  • Q. ipsin “fine thread” ✧ PE17/017
  • S. esbin “thin thread, tress” ✧ PE17/119
  • ᴺS. fidhras “collective hair, *all hair on the body”
  • S. fîn “(single) hair, filament” ✧ PE17/017

Element in

  • spindilā “head of hair” ✧ PE17/017; PE17/017; PE17/017; PE17/119
  • Q. Finwë ✧ PM/340


  • SPIN- ✧ PE17/017; PE17/017
  • SPIN-ID ✧ PE17/119
  • SPĬN ✧ PE17/185
  • SPIN ✧ PE17/185
  • fin- ✧ PM/340
  • PHIN ✧ PM/340
Primitive elvish [PE17/017; PE17/119; PE17/185; PM/340] Group: Eldamo. Published by