S. Elbereth f. “Queen of Stars, (lit.) Star-queen”
The Sindarin name of Varda, a compound of êl “star” and bereth “queen”, that is: “Star-queen” (LotR/378, RGEO/66). The Quenya equivalent of this name is Elentári. This name was of ancient derivation, from ✶elen-barathī > elmbereth > Elbereth, as shown by the fact that the initial [b] in the second element did not lenite to [v] (MR/387, PE17/22).
Possible Etymology: In the 1930s, N. Elbereth was likewise derived ✶el(en)-barathī (Ety/EL, BARATH). This 1930s derivation worked through a combination of i-affection and i-intrusion, with the resulting ei > e as often happened in unstressed final syllables in Noldorin of the 1930s:
This derivation no longer works in Sindarin of the 1950s and 60s, however, since later [ei] became [ai] in final syllables in Sindarin and did not reduce to e. Thus we should have ✶barathī > **beraith. One possibility is that Tolkien transferred this derivation to the root √BER “marry”: in The Road Goes Ever On published in 1967, Tolkien said “bereth actually meant ‘spouse’, and is used of one who is ‘queen’ as spouse of a king” (RGEO/66). This theory was first proposed to me by Elaran in a private Discord chat in November 2018, and I find it very compelling; it neatly resolves the phonological problem if bereth is derived from *berettē or something similar.
Conceptual Development: In the earliest Lost Tales, this name was G. Timbridhil “Queen of Stars” (GL/71, LT1A/Tinwetári), which reappeared in The Etymologies from the 1930s as N. Timbreðil (Ety/TIN). Tolkien revised the name to N. Elbereth “Star Queen” (Ety/EL, Ety/BARATH), which appeared in the narratives starting with the Lord of the Rings drafts from the 1940s (RS/68).
Before giving this name to Varda, Tolkien used the name Ilk. Elbereth for the youngest child of Dior (Ety/BER), but he changed that name to Elrûn (later S. Elurín). Tolkien also used the name N. Elbereth² for one of the sons of Elrond before renaming him S. Elrohir (WR/297).
References ✧ LBI; Let/278, 282; LotR/238, 729; LotRI; MR/387-388; MRI; PE17/22-23; PM/358; PMI; RGEO/61, 63-66; SI
|†êl||“star”||✧ PE17/22 (el-); RGEO/65|
|bereth||“queen, spouse; supreme, sublime”||✧ PE17/23; RGEO/66|
|✶elen||“star”||✧ PE17/22; PE17/23 (el-en)|
|✶elen-barathi > elmbereth > Elbereth||[elenbarathī] > [elembarathī] > [elembarathi] > [elemberethi] > [elembereth] > [elmbereth] > [elbereth]||✧ MR/387|
|✶elen-barathī > el-mbereth > Elbereth||[elenbarathī] > [elembarathī] > [elembarathi] > [elemberethi] > [elembereth] > [elmbereth] > [elbereth]||✧ PE17/22|
N. Elbereth f. “Queen of Stars, (lit.) Star Queen”
References ✧ Ety/BARATH, EL; RS/68, 394; RSI; SDI1/Elbereth; TII; WRI
|bereth¹||“queen”||✧ Ety/BARATH; Ety/EL|
N. Timbredhil f.
Reference ✧ Ety/TIN ✧ Timbreðil
|ᴹ√TIN||“sparkle, emit slender (silver pale) beams”||✧ Ety/TIN|
|Bredhil||✧ Ety/TIN (-breðil)|
ᴱN. Timbridhil f. “Queen of Stars”
References ✧ LBI; SM/82; SMI/Tim-Bridhil
G. Timbridhil f. “Queen of Stars”
Precursor to S. Elbereth from the Gnomish Lexicon from the 1910s, a combination of tim “star” and Bridhil “queen” (GL/24, 70). In this period, only its Qenya equivalent ᴱQ. Tinwetári was used in the narratives. The name did appear in the earliest Silmarillion drafts of the late 1920s (SM/82), and a variant of this name, N. Timbredhil, appeared in The Etymologies from the 1930s (Ety/TIN), but starting with the Lord of the Rings drafts from the 1940s, Tolkien consistently used Elbereth instead.
See S. Elbereth for further discussion.
References ✧ GL/18, 24, 71; LT1A/Tinwetári; PE14/14
|tim||“spark, gleam, (star)”||✧ GL/70; LT1A/Tinwë Linto|
|Bridhil||“*Queen”||✧ GL/24; GL/71; LT1A/Tinwetári|
|brindi||“(Queen) Princess”||✧ GL/24 (Brindi)|