Q. Ambar n. “The World, Earth, (lit.) Habitation, Settlement” (Category: World)
The word Ambar is probably the most common Quenya word for the “World”. Its more literal meaning is “Habitation” (MR/337; NM/226) or “Settlement” (PE17/163) in the sense that it is the realm in which the children of Eru (Elves and Men) live. A clear description of this notion can be found in notes from late 1960s:
Ambar was thus “the great settlement”. This may be translated “world” — meaning this Earth as the place (by destiny) inhabited by Elves and Men, the Children of Eru. It thus resembles ἡ οἰκουμένη [Greek = “the inhabited world”], but was not limited either to the parts of Earth actually inhabited, or to those inhabited by any special peoples such as the Elves, or among Men the Numenóreans. The decision, the fixing of the dwelling place, was thought of as proceeding from Eru and was so part of his Umbar [Destiny]. Umbar, so used, might be said to be “the history of Ambar”, so far as already accomplished, and its future so far as already arranged and defined (PE17/163).
This specific note was rejected, but similar descriptions appear elsewhere (NM/226-227). As noted by Tolkien here and elsewhere, the term Ambar was also intertwined with the notion of Destiny (Umbar) as willed by Eru.
Another common term for “world” was Q. Arda, more literally “Realm”, but strictly speaking this referred to the regions under the dominion of Manwë, and so included areas outside of the world such as Aman (after its removal from the world) and the remainder of the Solar System (PE17/105; MR/337; NM/227). Tolkien also sometimes used Q. cemen “earth” for “the Earth” (VT44/34; MR/387), particularly in Q. Kementári “Queen of the Earth” as a name for Yavanna (S/28). But that seems to refer more to livable surface of the world rather than the entire world itself.
Etymology: This word was derived from the root √MBAR “settle, dwell”, with a vocalic augment: ✶a-mbar (PE17/105, 124). It is not the result of a syllabic nasal ✶ṃbar, as that would produce Q. umbar, the Elvish word for fate or destiny (PE17/104).
Conceptual Development: The word ᴹQ. Ambar first appeared in a document labeled ᴹQ. Ambarkanta “The Shape of the World” from the early 1930s (SM/235-240). It appeared as ᴹQ. Ambar “Earth” in The Etymologies of the 1930s, already with the same basic meaning and derivation as given above. A possible precursor is the word ᴱQ. irmin “the inhabited world” from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, which was similar in form and meaning but derived from a different root ᴱ√IŘI [IÐI] “dwell” (QL/43). There was a variant Imbar of Ambar in Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth from around 1959 (MR/337) which might be a callback to this earlier word.
References ✧ LotR/967; MR/337; MRI/Ambar, Imbar; MS/1; NM/226, 228; PE17/64, 66, 74, 78, 90, 103-105, 124, 163; PE22/147; VT44/36; WJ/402; WJI/Ambar, Imbar
|Ambarello||ablative||“from the world”||✧ MS/1|
|√MBAR > ambar||[ambar]||✧ NM/226|
|√MBAR > ambar||[ambar]||✧ PE17/64|
|√MBAR > ambar||[ambar]||✧ PE17/66|
|√MBAR > Ambar||[ambar]||✧ PE17/78|
|√MBAR > ambar||[ambar]||✧ PE17/90|
|✶ambar- > ambar||[ambar]||✧ PE17/104|
|✶ambar(ă) > ambar||[ambara] > [ambar]||✧ PE17/105|
|✶a-mbar- > ambar||[ambara]||✧ PE17/124|
|√MBAR > ambar-||[ambara]||✧ PE17/163|
A word in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s glossed “the inhabited world” and derived from the root ᴱ√IŘI [IÐI] “dwell”, with the usual change of ancient ð > z > r (QL/43). It also appeared in the phrase ᴱQ. Irmina Telume “End of the World, Great End” in a list of names from the same period (PE13/104). In later writings it seems to have been supplanted by Q. Ambar of similar meaning.
References ✧ GL/50; LT2A/Idril; PE13/104; QL/43
|Irmina||genitive; a-genitive||“of the World”||✧ PE13/104|
|ᴱ√IŘI > irmin||[iðmin] > [izmin] > [irmin]||✧ QL/43|
References ✧ Ety/MBAR; EtyAC/MBAR, SIL; LRI; SD/56; SM/235-236, 241; SMI
|mar||“home, dwelling, house, habitation; earth”||stem||✧ EtyAC/MBAR (mar(d)-)|
|ᴹ√MBAR > a-mbar||[ambara]||✧ Ety/MBAR|
|ᴹ√[?mbar] > ambar||[ambara]||✧ EtyAC/SIL|