√GWEN root. “fair, beautiful; (probably originally) fresh, fair, unblemished (especially of beauty of youth)”
This root appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s with derivatives having to do with freshness and greenness, as in ᴹQ. wenya “green, yellow-green, fresh” and Ilk. gwên “greenness”. In that document it was also the basis for N. bein “fair, beautiful” by way of blending with ᴹ√BAN “beautiful”. In the entry for ᴹ√GWEN Tolkien said it needed to be distringuished from ᴹ√WEN(ED) “maiden”, but in the entry for ᴹ√WEN(ED) he said maiden words needed to be transferred to ᴹ√GWEN (Ety/WEN).
This connection between “fresh” and “maiden” reappeared in notes from 1959, where √GWEN was given with gloss “fair, beautiful (probably originally fresh, fair, unblemished especially of beauty of youth)” as this basis for “maiden” words (PE17/191). But Tolkien soon rejected this notion and reverted back to √WEN(ED); this may be a reflection of Tolkien’s ongoing vacillation between Q. wende versus vende as the proper Quenya word for “maiden”; wende (which seems to be his preference) would be better supported by an ancient root beginning with gw-, but that would also invalidate the Sindarin form gwend “maiden” (not **bend).
Tolkien seems to have given up on √GWEN for maiden words, and the sense “fresh” seems to have been reassigned to the root √KEW in later notes (VT48/7), so √GWEN may have been abandoned completely.
Reference ✧ PE17/191 ✧ “fair, beautiful; (probably originally) fresh, fair, unblemished (especially of beauty of youth)”
ᴹ√GWEN root. “*fresh, green”
References ✧ Ety/GWEN, WEN; EtyAC/GWIN