√RĀ/ARA root. “noble, high, royal”
An invertible root meaning “noble”, itself an extension of √AR (PE17/147). Given its widespread use, Tolkien did not define this root until quite late. Its first clear mention was in Notes on Names (NN) and Quenya Notes (QN), both from 1957. In NN, Tolkien introduced invertible √ARA/RĀ to give an explanation of the element rod in names like S. Rodon “Vala” and S. Finrod, where Tolkien said:
S raud “tall, high, lofty, eminent”. √ARA, RĀ. Cf. Q aran “king”. Q arta “high” < árată. S raud < form (a)rā́tă (PE17/118).
Earlier in The Etymologies of the 1930s, the second element of N. Finrod was N. rhaud “metal” (Ety/RAUTĀ), whereas ᴹQ. haran/N. aran “king” was derived from ᴹ√ƷAR “have, hold” (Ety/ƷAR). As for the later root √ARA/RĀ, Tolkien gave a lengthier explanation in QN:
√AR. ARI-, ARA/RĀ, ARAT/ARAN. Original sense probably seen in adverb/preposition *ara/ar/ra, beyond, further than. The stems ARI/ARAN/ARAT mean “good, excellent, noble” — differing from √MAN in stating that any one specimen is “good of its kind”, excels, without necessarily implying that others are bad or marred. Hence ari-, good as prefix, ar/ara/aran as prefixes of excellence especially in royal names, aran king. Q arta noble, arato a “noble”, ráta- excel, surpass. S aran, arod (arāta); or raud excellent, noble, eminent (PE17/147).
Thus all these roots, including the extensions √ARAN and √ARAT, were elaborations on the sense “beyond” from base root √AR. The simple root √AR itself had a lengthy conceptual history; see that entry for details. As for ARA/RĀ, the connection between these forms and nobility seems to be firmly established by the late 1950s and afterwards, with primitive element Ara- “noble” mentioned in The Shibboleth of Fëanor from 1968 (PM/344, 363 note #43), and numerous other mentions of derived forms in documents from this period.
References ✧ PE17/118, 145, 147-148, 182; PM/344, 363; SA/ar(a)
|AR||“beyond, further than; outside; beside, along side”||✧ PE17/147|