S. Galadriel f. “Glittering-garland”

S. Galadriel, f. “Glittering-garland”

A Noldorin lady and only daughter of Finarfin, Galadriel was the ruler of Lórien at the end of the Third Age (LotR/353). Her name is a compound of galad “radiance, glittering reflection” and -riel “crowned maiden”. Its full meaning is “maiden crowned with a garland of bright radiance” (PM/347), but for the sake of brevity this entry uses the less literal transalation “Glittering-garland” (Let/423).

Etymology: The history of Galadriel’s name is quite complex. Her given names were Q. Nerwen and Q. Artanis, but her mother Eärwen was Telerin. Later in life Galadriel adopted the Telerin name T. Alatáriel, which in Quenya was Q. Altáriel (PM/346). This new name may have been due to the Telerin influence of her mother, or it may have been given to Galadriel by her husband, who may or may not have been a Telerin elf (see Celeborn¹ for discussion). She was given this name because of her long golden hair (Let/428). Like her older brothers, Galadriel journeyed to Beleriand to aid in the war against Morgoth, where her name Altáriel was adapted into Sindarin as Galadriel (PM/347, PE17/60).

Many years later, when Galadriel became ruler of Lórien, her Silvan-elf subjects associated her name with Nan. galad “tree”. Sometimes her Sindarin name was altered to Galadhriel (S. galadh “tree”) to reflect this association (UT/267), but properly speaking her name had nothing to do with trees.

Conceptual Development: See the entry for the primitive form of her name, ✶Ñ(g)alatā-rigelle, for a discussion of the conceptual developments in this name’s etymology, and N. Galadhrien for a discussion of earlier forms of this name.

References ✧ Let/423, 425, 428; LotRI; LRI; LT1I; MR/182, 470; MRI; PE17/50, 59-60, 84, 169; PM/346-347; PMI; SA/kal; SI; SMI; UT/267; UTI; WJ/35; WJI





galad “radiance, glittering reflection; light, fire, brightness, shining” ✧ Let/425; PE17/84; PM/347
-riel “crowned maiden” ✧ Let/428; PM/347
ñ(g)alatā “glory, radiance” ✧ PE17/169 (galatā-)
GAL¹ “light; shine, be bright” ✧ SA/kal
galadh “tree” ✧ SA/kal; UT/267



Phonetic Developments

galata-rīg-elle > Galadriel [galatarīgelle] > [galatarīɣelle] > [galatarīɣell] > [galadarīɣell] > [galadrīɣell] > [galadriell] > [galadriel] ✧ MR/182
galata-rĭg-elle > Galadriel [galatarigelle] > [galatariɣelle] > [galatariɣell] > [galadariɣell] > [galadriɣell] > [galadriell] > [galadriel] ✧ MR/470
galatā-rigellē̆ > Galadriel [galatarigelle] > [galatariɣelle] > [galatariɣell] > [galadariɣell] > [galadriɣell] > [galadriell] > [galadriel] ✧ PE17/50
Kalatā-rigelle > †Caladriel [calatarigelle] > [calatariɣelle] > [calatariɣell] > [caladariɣell] > [caladriɣell] > [caladriell] > [caladriel] ✧ PE17/50
ñgal(a)tā-rig-el- > Galadriel [ŋgalatarigel] > [galatarigel] > [galatariɣel] > [galadariɣel] > [galadriɣel] > [galadriel] ✧ PE17/60

N. Galadriel f.

See S. Galadriel for discussion.

References ✧ PE22/68; SDI1/Galadriel; TI/246; TII; WRI


galadh? “tree”
-iel¹? “feminine suffix; daughter”

N. Galadhrien f. “Tree-lady”

An early name for S. Galadriel appearing in Lord of the Rings drafts from the 1940s as a combination of galadh “tree” and the lenited form of rhien “lady” (TI/249). There were also (rejected) variants Rhien and Galdri(e)n.

Conceptual Development: Tolkien soon changed her name to Galadriel (TI/246), but it likely that at this early stage, her name still included galadh “tree”, since Tolkien often represented [ð] with “d” instead of “dh” in the drafts: compare N. Caradras with S. Caradhras. The derivation of her name from S. galad “light” is probably a later innovation, though exactly when Tolkien made this transition is unclear.

References ✧ TI/249; TII/Galadriel





galadh “tree” ✧ TI/249 (Galað)
rhien “(crowned) lady” ✧ TI/249