√LEP root. “pick up/out (with the fingers); finger”
This root was connected to Elvish words for “finger” for most of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as an unglossed root ᴱ√LEPE in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. let (lept-) “finger” and ᴱQ. lempe “crook, hook” (QL/53). There were also derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. leptha “finger” and G. lempa- “beckon, crook the finger” (GL/53). The root ᴹ√LEP appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s with extensions ᴹ√LEPET “finger” and ᴹ√LEPEN “five” and various derivatives of similar meanings (Ety/LEP).
In Tolkien’s later writings, √LEPEN “five” continued to appear regularly, along with the base root √LEP that was glossed either “finger” (VT42/24) or “pick up (with fingers)” (VT47/10, 24, 27). Despite the stability of the root, the Elvish words for “finger” themselves when through many revisions; see Q. leper and S. leber for discussion.
References ✧ VT42/24; VT44/16; VT47/10, 24, 27
ᴹ√LEP root. “*finger”
References ✧ Ety/AR¹, GALAD, LEP, YEN; PE19/42
ᴱ√LEPE root. “*finger”
References ✧ PE13/148; QL/53