√NIK(W) root. “(also of) snow, ice”
This root was used for Elvish words for “white” and “snow” for much of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as ᴱ√NIQI “white” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. niqis “snow” and ᴱQ. ninqe “white” (QL/66), the latter surviving more or less unchanged for the rest of Tolkien’s life. In the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon it had derivatives like G. nictha- “to rain, hail, snow” and G. nimp “pallid” (GL/60), the latter the cognate of ᴱQ. ninqe and another word that survived in Tolkien’s later conceptions of the languages.
The root appeared as unglossed ᴹ√NIK-W in The Etymologies, again with ᴹQ. ninqe “white” and N. nimp “pale” and other similar words, including ᴹQ. niqe “snow” (Ety/NIK-W). The root was mentioned again in Tolkien’s later writing as √NIK-W (PE17/160) or √NIK (PE17/168) as a basis for “snow” words. In Sindarin Tolkien felt it was influenced by other roots, such as √(N)DIP/B “bending and drooping” (PE17/168) or √NIP “small with a connotation of weakness” (VT48/18) so that S. nimp also took on a connotation of weakness and frailty, and hence was used for “pale, pallid” rather than simply “white”.
References ✧ PE17/160, 168
ᴹ√NIK(W) root. “*snow; white”
References ✧ Ety/LOT(H), NEI, NIK-W, TĀ
ᴱ√NIQI root. “white”
References ✧ LT1A/Taniquetil; QL/66