√KHITH root. “mist”
This root and its variants were the basis for “mist” words for much of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as ᴱ√HISI with derivatives like ᴱQ. híse “dusk” and ᴱQ. hiswa “dim, fading” (QL/40), and as an element in ᴱQ. Hisilóme which was glossed “Shadowy Twilights” in the earliest Lost Tales (LT1/112). Thus the early root might have meant “*dusk, dimness, shadow”. The root was probably also an element in the Gnomish equivalent Hithlum from this period (GL/20), perhaps the result of the sound change whereby [s] became [θ] before [l] in Gnomish.
The sense “haze” and “mist” for ᴱQ. híse first appeared in drafts of the Oilima Markirya poem (PE16/62, 75). In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien gave this root as ᴹ√KHITH with variant ᴹ√KHIS and the gloss “mist, fog”; ᴹ√KHIS was listed first but all the actual derivatives were from ᴹ√KHITH (Ety/KHIS). The root appeared again in Notes on Galadriel’s Song from the late 1950s or early 1960s as √KHIΘ “mist” (NGS, PE17/73).
Tolkien’s continued use of Q. Hísilómë and (Northern) S. Hithlum throughout his life testifies to the enduring nature of this root, though it seems to have shifted in sense from 1910s “*shadow” to 1930s “mist”, and from s to th.
References ✧ PE17/73, 157
ᴹ√KHITH root. “mist, fog”
References ✧ Ety/KHIS, LUM; EtyAC/MITH