S. Celeborn¹ m. “Silver-tree; Silver Tall”

S. Celeborn¹, m. “Silver-tree; Silver Tall”

The husband of Galadriel and ruler of Lórien. His name can variously be interpreted as “Silver-tree” (NM/349) or “Silver-tall” (NM/352). His hair was silver (LotR/354), which may have been an aspect of his name as Galadriel’s golden hair was of hers.

Possible Etymology: The etymology of Celeborn’s name is a bit confused, since Tolkien changed his mind on its meaning. It is very likely when Tolkien invented the name he interpretted it as “Silver-tree”, a compound of S. celeb “silver” and orn “tree”, and that was the meaning Tolkien initially gave it in notes from 1968 (NM/349). But in later these notes, he decided that the second element of the name was derived from ancient ✶ornā “tall” (NM/350), so that the meaning of these name was actually “Silver-tall” (NM/352 note #8).

In The Lord of the Rings and the published version of The Silmarillion, Celeborn was a kinsman of Thingol in Doriath and therefore a Sindarin elf, and Galadriel met him in Beleriand (LotR/1082, S/115). However, in the aformentioned 1968 note and other writings from this period, Celeborn was a Telerin of Valinor and came with Galadriel to Middle Earth (NM/349-352; UT/233; PM/347). In this revised scenario, we have the clearest explanations of both Celeborn’s and Galadriel’s names, ultimately derived from the Telerin names T. Teleporno and T. Alatáriel, respectively. However, this scenario clashes badly with the narratives in the published Silmarillion.

Even if you assume that Celeborn was Sindarin, his name could still be “derived” from T. Teleporno in the sense that it was derived from the Ancient Telerin name of the same meaning. In this scenario, Galadriel could have gotten her Telerin name Alatáriel due to the influence of her mother Eärwen, who was herself Telerin.

Conceptual Development: See N. Keleborn for a discussion of earlier forms of this name.

References ✧ Let/425; LotRI/Celeborn; MRI/Celeborn; NM/349-350, 352; PMI/Celeborn; S/115; SDI1/Celeborn²; SI/Celeborn²; UT/233, 266; UTI/Celeborn², Teleporno; WJI/Celeborn; WRI/Celeborn

Glosses

Elements

celeb “silver” ✧ UT/266
ornā “uprising, tall” ✧ NM/350; UT/266

Cognates


N. Keleborn m.

The name of Celeborn¹ as it appeared in Lord of the Rings drafts from the 1940s (TI/246). As Christopher Tolkien points out (UT/266), the interpretation of Celeborn was probably “Silver-tree” when his father first invented the name.

Conceptual Development: The earliest names for this character were N. Galdaran and Galathir (TI/249).

See S. Celeborn¹ for further discussion.

References ✧ SDI1/Celeborn²; TI/246, 256; TII

Related

Elements

celeb “silver”
orn “tree”

N. Galathir m. “Tree-lord”

An early name for S. Celeborn¹ appearing in Lord of the Rings drafts from the 1940s as a combination of galadh “tree” and the lenited form of hîr “lord” (TI/249).

See S. Celeborn¹ for further discussion.

References ✧ TI/249; TII/Galathir, Keleborn

Glosses

Elements

galadh “tree” ✧ TI/249 (Galað)
hîr “master, lord” ✧ TI/249

N. Galdaran m.

An early name for S. Celeborn¹ appearing in Lord of the Rings drafts from the 1940s as a combination of galadh “tree” and aran “king”, along with even earlier forms Tar and Aran (TI/249).

See S. Celeborn¹ for further discussion.

References ✧ SDI1/Galdaran; TI/249; TII/Galathir, Keleborn

Variations

Changes

Elements

galadh “tree”
aran “king, lord (of a specific region)”