Hobbit Vocabulary

I’ve recently re-read “The Hobbit” (it’s one of my favorite books).
Every once in a while I came to a word that I did not know the meaning.

Here is my list of words from “The Hobbit” that I did not know:

Prosy

  • Dull; commonplace - arousing no interest, attention, curiosity or excitement.

Porter

  • A dark beer resembling light stout, made from malt browned or charred by drying at a high temperature.

Bewuthered

  • Appears to be a word unique to “The Hobbit”. It’s context would suggest it is synonymous with “Bewildered”.

Palpitating

  • To pulsate with unusual rapidity from exertion, emotion, disease, etc.; flutter: His heart palpitated wildly.

Flummoxed

  • Confused; Perplexed

Bracken

  • Type of fern or an area overgrown with ferns and shrubs.

Eyrie

  • The nest of a bird, such as an eagle, built on a cliff or other high place.

Tuppence

  • A very small amount.

Attercop

  • A type of spider or a peevish, ill-natured person.

Tomnoddy

  • A fool or a dunce.

Slowcoach

  • Someone who moves slowly; a “slowpoke”

Turnkey

  • A person who has charge of the keys of a prison; jailer.

Solemnities

  • State or character of being solemn; earnestness; gravity; impressiveness: the solemnity of a state funeral.

Mattocks

  • A digging tool with a flat blade set at right angles to the handle that can also be used as a weapon.

I’m pretty sure it started in The Hobbit, but definitely LOTR:

Halfling.- Apparently it is an old scots word for ‘awkward teenager’, so I can see where JRR conflated that through ‘half boy - half man’ to ‘small person’.

Probably about half the words on your list were already familiar to me, but I got to the Hobbit at a dreadfully late age (17ish) and I’d read masses of brit lit (thanks granddad!) before starting it. Porter, tuppence, turnkey, mattocks, slowcoach are all in ‘Wind in the Willows’ and in ‘Kidnapped’ they often sleep on bracken. Palpitating? Any ‘decent’ bodice ripper with have the heroine palpitating (torn between terror and desire, usually).

If you want more interesting and seldom used words, try googling Edward Lear. Lovely stuff, and with extra nonsense!

Tuppence is not just a very small amount, it is a contraction of two pence, so is a specific small amount, depending on context.

A long time ago, you would have been able to buy a tupenny loaf of bread. And when I was young it was possible to buy a tupenn’orth of sweets (if you had the right ration coupons).

If I had had a boy, I wanted to name him Porter. And if I had twin boys I would sorely have been tempted to name them Porter and Stout.

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company makes IMHO the best porter in the world, and the Anchor Steam Porter gets an honorable mention.

Those are standard English words. I only see three that I haven’t seen or heard used outside The Hobbit. I’d bet some English person will have seen or heard them used before.

[some English person ON]

Prosy
never heard of it :eek:

Porter
a beer (outdated usage)

Bewuthered
never heard of it :eek:

Palpitating
like in heart palpitations

Flummoxed
good word - use it myself!

Bracken
Scotland is full of it

Eyrie
there’s a breeding project for birds of prey near me, with artificial eyries for nesting

Tuppence
pre-decimal coinage = 2 old pence (of course I remember the farthing…)

Attercop
first met it in The Hobbit

Tomnoddy
first met it in The Hobbit

Slowcoach
typical English slang

Turnkey
used in Charles Dickens’ novels, I expect

Solemnities
Is this a correct extraction from solemn?

Mattocks
Agricultural implement

[some English person OFF]

When I was young you could buy a 1p bag of sweets, sometimes you could get something for a ha’penny.

And believe it or not there were some sweets, little farting rascals, you got 4 for a penny. They tasted like shit :stuck_out_tongue:

By the cringe, I’m an old bugger

Attercop
first met it in The Hobbit

Tomnoddy
first met it in The Hobbit

Slowcoach
typical English slang

Those were the ones I never heard before, and he has of course made up some for his story,so they may not have anything to do with a local idiom.

“Bewuthered” is likely a portmanteau word, a mixture of “bewildered” and “bothered” ?

Attercop is actually a very old word for spider, and you can still see it in Danish, where it’s edderkop.

Well, I’ve read the hobbit many times, and I never thought to look up attercop or tomnoddy - I thought they were Tokien inventions!

As my father always told me, it’s better to die in the evening than in the morning, because you’ll be one day smarter.

I would presume Tolkien was drawing on the Old English word for “spider”, although the Danish etymology is probably very similar. Literally, it means “poison-head”, from the roots “[ae]tter” (“poison”) + “coppa” (“head”). Cite: http://dict.die.net/attercop/

“Wuther” means “blow strongly” or “bluster” (in reference to the wind). It may be an alteration of “whither”. Given that, I would suggest that “bewuther” would mean something like “blown about” or “blown away”, possibly with a connotation of disorientation. Given the way Bilbo was being swept along by events at the time, this seems to make sense in context.

“Prosy” seems to clearly be a corruption of or derivation from “prosaic”.

“Noddy” means “simpleton” or “fool”, and may be derived from the sleep-related uses of “nod”. (This meaning is the root of the hacker jargon use of “noddy” to mean “trivially simple”.) “Tom” is simply a generic name for a boy or man, and makes similar appearances in “tomfool” and “tomboy”. “Tomnoddy” presumably carries much the same meaning as “tomfool”.

Tangent Re “Tuppence”: Does anyone else remember the song from the Disney Mary Poppins Movie “Feed the Birds”? It has the refrain…“Tuppence a Bag” and always pops into my head when I hear the word tuppence.

It’s not just a beer, it’s a type of beer: it’s akin to stout, very rich and dark. It’s not common these days, but it’s still made by some - mostly “boutique” - breweries: here in NZ Speights do an excellent porter.

Methinks you and I are of an age. When I used to get 12p a week pocket money, I could buy a comic and a small bag of sweets with it.

When I was a kid, I thought they were singing “Tuffins a day”. I didn’t know what “tuffins” were, but from the fact that it sounds sort of like “muffins”, and the context, I figured it was some sort of biscuit or other breadstuff. What I couldn’t figure out was why in the world the children would be expected to put their tuffins in the bank, which even at that age I knew was for money.

And there’s a spider-like monster in D&D called an “ettercap”… I don’t know why I never made the connection before with “attercob”.

Some of us want to know what kind of a person you are after you turn that switch off.

:smiley:

Quite a few of those words are basic high school vocab words in the United States.

Cartooniverse

Nope, I get;

Half a pound of tuppeny rice,
half a pound of treacle,
that’s the way the money goes,
POP! goes the weasel

Which may well be why I referenced Wind in the Willows after seeing “Tuppence” on the list. (The Weasels were big in WITW)

I guess we are my old mucker.

I remember when you could go out on a Saturday buy a suit and a pair of shoes, take your girl to the flicks,buy fish 'n chips afterwards and still have change out of a ha’penny :smiley: