J. R. R. Tolkien’s 3-part The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) was first published in the mid-1950s.
The trilogy started becoming popular in the U.S. in the 1960s, and this is when we first see LOTR character names (like Galadriel and Gandalf) popping up on the SSA’s baby name list.
It became very popular when director Peter Jackson turned it into three successful movies (released in 2001, 2002 and 2003).
So how did the books and the movies influence U.S. baby names? Let’s check it out…
Arwen debuted on the SSA’s list in 1968. Since then, over 2,080 baby girls have been named Arwen. Peak usage was in 2004.
The name Arwen means “noble maiden” in the fictional language Quenya (which Tolkien based largely on Finnish and Latin).
Aragorn debuted on the SSA’s list in 1970. Since then, over 50 baby boys have been named Aragorn. Peak usage was in 2004.
The name Aragorn means “revered king” in the fictional language Sindarin (based largely on Welsh).
Eowyn debuted on the SSA’s list in 1973. Since then, over 1,050 baby girls have been named Eowyn.
The name Eowyn means “horse joy” in the fictional language Rohirric (based on Old English).
It’s never been on the SSA’s list, but I know of one in England.
The name Frodo is an English translation of Frodo’s real name, Maura, which means “wise” or “experienced” in the fictional language Westron.
Galadriel debuted on the SSA’s list in 1969. Since then, over 170 baby girls have been named Galadriel. Peak usage was in 2003.
The name Galadriel means “maiden crowned with a radiant garland” in Sindarin.
Gandalf was on the SSA’s list in 1970 only (5 babies named Gandalf that year).
The name Gandalf means “wand-elf” in Westron and other Mannish languages.
Legolas debuted on the SSA’s list (and saw peak usage) in 2003. Since then, over 10 baby boys have been named Legolas.
The name Legolas is based on the name Laegolas, which means “greenleaf” in Sindarin.
Peregrin debuted on the SSA’s list in 2011. Since then, over 20 baby boys have been named Peregrin.
The name Peregrin is based on Peregrinus, which means “traveler” or “pilgrim” in Latin. (Peregrin is an English translation of Pippin’s Westron name, Razanur.)
Pippin debuted on the SSA’s list (as a girl name) in 2009. Since then, over 30 baby girls and 5 baby boys have been named Pippin.
“Pippin” was Peregrin’s nickname.
Samwise debuted on the SSA’s list in 2002. Since then, over 60 baby boys have been named Samwise.
The name Samwise is an English translation of Sam’s real name, Banazîr, which means “halfwise” or “simple” in Westron.
Strider debuted on the SSA’s list in 1973. Since then, over 240 baby boys have been named Strider.
“Strider” was Aragorn’s nickname.
Theoden debuted on the SSA’s list in 2004. Since then, 180 baby boys have been named Theoden.
The name Theoden is based on the name Tûrac, which means “king” in Rohirric.
Thorin debuted on the SSA’s list in 1968. Since then, over 1,170 baby boys have been named Thorin. (Commenter elbowin mentions that Thorin is now on the rise thanks to the character being featured in the more recent Hobbit movie trilogy, 2012-2014.)
The name Thorin is based on the Old Norse Þorinn, which means “bold one.”
P.S. Tori Amos’s daughter’s also has a Tolkien-inspired name.
Update, May 2015: The name Tauriel, though technically not a Tolkien name (it was created for the movies), debuted in the data in 2014.
Update: The name Beorn, from a character in the second two movies of the Hobbit trilogy, debuted in the data in 2015. (The Vikings name Bjorn may have been an influence as well.)
Update, April 2019: The name Tolkien itself debuted in the data in 2017. (The second syllable rhymes with the word keen.)
14 thoughts on “Middle-Earth baby names: Arwen to Thorin”
What about Lorien? I know two (including my niece, who was born in 1978). I picked a random year from the SSA to look up; there were 6 Loriens born in 1998.
Oh, I see you addressed that name in the P.S. … but I still think it should be included with the others here!
I left Lorien as more of an afterthought only because it’s best known as part of a place name (Lothlórien) and not so much as a character name (though there *is* a character named Lorien in the Tolkien legendarium).
This is interesting, a dozen years ago I used to deal with a woman at the Smithsonian named Arwen. She had a last name that sounded like it was Lord of the Rings-esque as well.
P.S. I love your site, I’ve been following you for a while now, keep up the good work!
P.P.S. In the course of my work I ran into a boy whose first name was 35 letters long. Have you ever run across Mohawk names before?
The dwarven names Dain, Thorin and Balin also made it into the SSA lists, but not Gimli. And Beren (from the Silmarillion, but mentioned in LOTR) occurs since 1980.
Frodo was a legendary danish king, and variation of that name like Frode are popular in Norway, but in not the USA.
The trick with Arwen is that you can always claim that it is a traditional welsh name … and Tolkien loved the sound of welsh.
Kenzie, thanks! :) I’ve read a bit about Mohawk names before, but I’ve never written a post about Mohawk names here. Do you happen to remember his name?
elbowin, thanks for the extra info!
I think that trick for Arwen would have worked better before the movies came out. :)
And here is a name with an anti-Tolkien pattern: Bilbo was in the SSA statistics from 1910–28, and never appeared again.
Maybe the Hobbit films change this?
P.S. The name Rohan (traditional scottisch or indic) may also been boosted by LOTR.
Just spotted an article about a NZ writer named Eowyn nearly four decades ago–long before the name became trendy.
“When Eowyn Ivey’s mother named her after a character in The Lord of the Rings 39 years ago, few recognised the fact.”
The rest here: Eowyn Ivey’s fantasy story, The Snow Child
My daughter is named Arwen Lothlorien (first and middle name) and has not chosen to change her name in her 36 years. She had another Arwen in her middle school class, and a colleague of mine named his daughter Arwen the same year.
Thorin is really taking off just now, it has increased from 2012 to 2014 from 31 via 73 to 112 baby boys.
My son is Samwise :) , Samwise Abraham Ginting.
My daughter is Lórien (born 2015). We are both Catholic and LOTR fans, so Lórien worked as it is also an alternative spelling for Saint Laurence (laurent, lorien – e.g.San Lorien, Spain).