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S. alfirin adj. and n. “immortal, (lit.) not dying; a species of flower” (Category: Immortal)

S. alfirin, adj. and n. “immortal, (lit.) not dying; a species of flower” (Category: Immortal)

A word used in The Lord of the Rings for a flower that was clearly intended to mean “immortal” when Tolkien first coined the word, a negated form of firin “mortal, dying”. Tolkien described this flower as being similar to an immortelle (Let/402). In the period where Tolkien decided that √LA was not a negative element, he coined a couple alternate etymologies for the flower, one based on alph “swan” (PE17/100) and another where the initial element was al- “well” and the second element was pirin for flowers that opened and closed with changes of light (PE17/146). In periods where Tolkien used √LA for negation, the meaning “immortal” was restored (PE22/153, PE22/156).

Neo-Sindarin: Since I retain al- as a negative prefix for purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I’d keep the gloss “immortal” for this word, using it as both an adjective and noun with this meaning, as well as referring to the immortelle-like flower.

References ✧ Let/248, 402; LotR/875; LotRI/Alfirin; PE17/100, 146; PE22/153, 156; UT/55; UTI




al-¹ “no, not” ✧ PE17/101
firin “mortal, dying” ✧ PE17/101 (fĭrin)
al-² “well, happily” ✧ PE17/146
pirin “flower that opened and shut quickly with any change of light” ✧ PE17/146 (pirin(a))



Phonetic Developments

alfirīne > alfirin [alpʰirīne] > [alɸirīne] > [alfirīne] > [alfirīn] > [alfirin] ✧ PE17/100