Q. Námo m. “Judge, Ordainer”

Q. Námo, m. “Judge, Ordainer”

Vala of fate and keeper of the Houses of the Dead, spouse of Vairë, usually referred to by the name of his realm Mandos (S/28). His name is variously translated as “Judgement” (MR/150), “Judge” (WJ/402) or “Ordainer” (PE21/85). It is probably a translation of his (unknown) Valarin name (WJ/402).

Possible Etymology: The final element of this name is probably the agental suffix -mo, as with the name Irmo. Its initial element is most likely related to namna “statute” (MR/258) and the noun/verb pair námië “judgement” and nam- “to judge” (VT41/13).

If the sense “Ordainer” is the most accurate translation, the initial element of Námo may instead be the verb ná- “to be”. Along these lines, the word námo¹ is elsewhere given as a general word for an unspecified person, probably originally meaning “being” (PM/340).

As the translation of a Valarin name, Námo may be related to the element Anamo in the name †Rithil-Anamo “Doom Ring”, a translation of Valarin Māχananaškād (WJ/401), elsewhere adapted phonetically into Quenya as Q. Máhanaxar (S/38). This supports the possibility that nam- “judge” is the basis for the name Námo.

Conceptual Development: In the earliest Lost Tales, his true name was ᴱQ. (LT1/66, QL/58). Only the name ᴹQ. Mandos appeared in Silmarillion drafts from the 1930s, both as his true name and the name of his hall, though he was also known by the sobriquet ᴹQ. Nurufantur (LR/205). In Silmarillion revisions from the 1950s-60s, his true name re-emerged, first as Núr, soon changed to Námo (MR/150).

In some notes from the late 1960s, Tolkien considered revising this name to Návo, along with a new verb for “judge”: nav-¹ (PE22/154 note #53). This change did not appear in the narratives, but does lend weight to the idea that Námo is related to nam-.

References ✧ MR/150; MRI/Námo, Núr; PE21/85; PE22/154; S/28; SI; UT/397; UTI; WJ/402; WJI






námo² “judge”


Phonetic Developments

NDAB > Návo [ndabo] > [ndaβo] > [naβo] > [navo] ✧ PE22/154

ᴱQ. m.

See Q. Námo for discussion.

References ✧ GL/45; LBI; LT1A/Vê; LT1I; MRI; QL/100; SMI



Element In