Beware, older languages below! The languages below were invented during Tolkien's earlier period and should be used with caution. Remember to never, ever mix words from different languages!

Middle Primitive Elvish


root. fly, float in air

Tolkien used a similar set of Elvish roots for both “air” and “flight” for much of his life. Their earliest manifestation was in a pair of unglossed roots from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s: ᴱ√GWILI with derivatives like ᴱQ. ’wili- “sail, fly, float”, ᴱQ. ’wilin “bird”, and ᴱQ. ’wilwarin “butterfly” (QL/104), versus ᴱ√VILI with derivatives like ᴱQ. vīle “breeze — gentle”, ᴱQ. vilina “airy, breezy, light”, and {ᴱQ. Vilna >>} ᴱQ. Vilya “air (lower)” (QL/101). Both these roots had distinct sets of derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon, such as G. gwail “air”, G. gwil- “sail, float, fly”, and G. gwilbrin “butterfly” < ✶gu̯il {<< u̯il} [ᴱ√GWILI] (GL/45), versus G. bilin(c) “small bird”, G. biltha- “flutter, flit”, and G. blith “air, breeze, zephyr” < ✶bil [ᴱ√VILI] (GL/22-23).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien gave the root as ᴹ√WIL “fly, float in air” with derivatives like ᴹQ. vilwa {>> wilma} “(lower) air”, N. gwelw “air”, and ᴹQ. wilwarin/N. gwilwileth “butterfly” (Ety/WIL). Tolkien introduced an alternate root ᴹ√WIS in The Etymologies as the basis for ᴹQ. vista “air as substance” (Ety/WIS), though there are no clear signs of ᴹ√WIS in later writings. However, Tolkien’s continued use of words like Q. vilya “air, sky” and Q. wilwarin “butterfly” (MC/222) indicate the ongoing validity of the root ᴹ√WIL.

Tolkien’s vacillation between w- and v- in Quenya derivatives of this root may indicate a variant strengthened root ✱√GWIL. Tolkien use of vilya/wilya as the name of tengwa #24 [n] (LotR/1123) is a strong indication that the root had an ancient form ✱√GWIL, as this sign is in the quessetéma series of labialized velars. However, it is also possible Tolkien was simply unwilling to abandon well-established forms like wilwarin “butterfly”, and continued to write them with an (archaic) w- rather than the expected v-.


  • Ilk. gwilwering “butterfly” ✧ Ety/WIL
  • ᴹ✶wilwā “air, lower air” ✧ Ety/WIL
    • Ilk. gwelo “air, lower air” ✧ Ety/WIL; Ety/WIL
    • ᴹQ. wilma “inner or lower air” ✧ Ety/WIL; Ety/WIL; EtyAC/WIL
    • N. gwelw “air (as a substance)” ✧ Ety/WIL
  • ᴹQ. vil- “to fly, to fly, [ᴱQ.] float, sail” ✧ Ety/WIL
  • ᴺQ. vílë “gentle breeze”
  • ᴺQ. vilina “airy, breezy; light [weight?]”
  • Q. vilva “fluttering to and fro”
  • Q. vilya “air, sky”
  • ᴺS. gwil- “to fly, sail, float”
  • N. gwilith “air (as a region), air (as a region), *lower sky; [G.] breeze” ✧ Ety/WIL
  • ᴺS. gwiltha- “to air, expose to air”
  • ᴺS. gwilwa- “to flutter, flit”
  • N. gwilwileth “butterfly” ✧ Ety/WIL

Element in

  • ᴹQ. wilwarin “butterfly” ✧ Ety/WIL
  • Q. Vilya “(Ring) of Air”
  • N. gwilith “air (as a region), air (as a region), *lower sky; [G.] breeze”
  • ᴺS. gwilwist “weather”
  • ᴹT. vilviren “butterfly” ✧ Ety/WIL
Middle Primitive Elvish [Ety/WIL] Group: Eldamo. Published by