√NUK root. “dwarf, stunted”
Tolkien used words like Q. nauco and S. naug for “dwarf” throughout his life, but the underlying root evolved over time. No root for these words appeared in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, but based on words like G. naud “bowed, bent”, G. naug “dwarf”, and G. naur “ill-tempered, sour, grumbling”, it was probably something like *ᴱ√NAWA (GL/59), Tolkien’s portrayal of Dwarves was not very positive in his earliest writings. In The Etymologies he gave the root as unglossed ᴹ√NAU̯K, likely a reduction of ᴹ√NÁWAK, the latter represented in the variant word N. Nawag for “Dwarf” (Ety/NAUK).
In later writings Tolkien generally gave the root as √NUK (PE17/45; VT39/7; WJ/392), which he glossed “dwarf, stunted” in the Quendi and Eldar essay of 1959-60, clarifying that this specifically was used for things “not reaching full growth or achievement, failing of some mark or standard” and (prior to their application to Dwarves) “S naug, Q nauka, especially applied to things that though in themselves full-grown were smaller or shorter than their kind, and were hard, twisted or ill-shapen” (WJ/413). So this use as the name for Dwarves remained fairly insulting.
References ✧ PE17/45, 169; VT39/7; WJ/392, 413
ᴹ√NAWAK root. “*dwarf”
References ✧ Ety/NAUK; EtyAC/NAUK
?ᴱ√NAWA root. “dwarf”