Q. maqua n. “hand-full, group of five (similar) things; hand (colloquial); closing or closed [hand] (facing down) for taking” (Category: Hand (other))
A word for “hand-full” in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals written around 1968, a combination of má “hand” and ✶kwā “-full” (VT47/6-7). Tolkien said that it was “used as group numeral ‘group of five (similar) things’ and the dual maquat for ‘a group of ten’”, hence it was primary a measure of quantity rather than volume, more analogous to English “dozen”. To say maqua taxëo “a hand-full of nails” would mean five nails (or thereabouts), not the amount of nails that could be held in one hand. Tolkien said that it was sometimes colloquially used for the hand itself, replacing the more ordinary “hand” word má, mainly because maqua was easier to inflect.
Conceptual Development: In drafts of these 1968 notes Tolkien said the word maqua meant “a closing or closed [hand] (facing down) for taking”, but for that sense it was derived from √MAP “take away” (VT47/20 note #16), and it is likely Tolkien discarded this meaning. In another note from Jan-Feb 1968, Tolkien derived this word from √MAK “strike”, but the sentence where Tolkien described this derivation was abandoned unfinished (VT47/18-19 note #11). Likely all these 1968 ✶makwā derivations were part of an attempt to find a new etymology for S. mâb “hand”.
In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s glossed, ᴱQ. maqa was an adjective meaning “handy, skilled (with hands)” (QL/57).
References ✧ VT47/6-7, 10, 19-20
|maquat||dual||“pair of fives”||✧ VT47/10|
|✶makwā > maqua||[makwā] > [makwa]||✧ VT47/6|
|✶makwā > maqua||[makwā] > [makwa]||✧ VT47/7|
|✶makwā > maqua||[makwā] > [makwa]||✧ VT47/19|
|√MAP > mapā > mākwa > măqua||[mapā] ? [makwā] > [makwa]||✧ VT47/20|
|√MAP > măqua||[mapa] ? [makwa]||✧ VT47/20|