LoTR: Meaning of English word "dwimmer"

In “The Two Towers”, Chapter 2, “The Riders of Rohan”, Eomer is talking about Saruman, and says “It is ill dealing with such a foe: he is a wizard both cunning and dwimmer-crafty, having many disguises.”

I’ve looked up “dwimmer” in the OED and Webster’s, and searched a number of pages in Google. Tolkien certainly wouldn’t have been familiar with, nor would he have used a word like “do what I mean”. Am I missing something obvious, here? I can’t even figure out the root of the word.

I think perhaps what you are looking for is dweomer. “Dwimmer” may be just a corruption of “dweomer”.

“The Languages of Tolkein’s Middle-Earth” by Ruth S. Noel says it is from the Old English Word dwimor, or illusion. In turn dwimor derives from gedwimor meaning sorceror.

It is also used in the battle before Minas Tirith when Eowyn calls the chief Nazgul a Dwimmerlaik ie dwimor(sorceror)lic(corpse).

Somebody please help me. I’ve turned into a Tolkien geek.

Sorry Motog, there is no cure.

That’s a word I haven’t seen in a great while.

When I was a sophomore in college, I wrote a paper about The Tempest.

I wrote something about comparing “the dweomercraft of Shakespeare and Prospero.” My prof - a really brilliant guy, full of arcane words, who probably dreams in Chaucer’s English - circled the word and wrote “What the fuck is that?”

Partly, I suspect there are variant spellings.

In Dwimordene, In Lorien
Seldom have walked the feet of men . . .

“Dene” is a Middle English word for “valley.”

I think, therefore, that “illusion” is probably a better translation than “sorcery.”

One site says that “dwimmer” is a Middle English variant of the Old English “dwimor.”

The site also offer this:

dwimmer (German Roots)

Magic, sorcery, spell, occult art

I am wondering how Tolkien didn’t have the chops to use a variant of an anglo-saxon term … :dubious:

If memory serves, dweomer was used in D&D manuals.

Many years ago, I came across the following list on Encyclopedia of Arda but since that site seems to be down…

Old and Rare Words Archaic or Unusual Words found in Tolkien’s Works

Quite a list…

Yup, back in the first edition books; I always suspected that it was one of Gary Gygax’s favorite words (and he used a lot of obscure / archaic words). In D&D, it specifically referred to the aura or magical “field” of a spell.

It’s in 3.5 and in Pathfinder also, as a particular spell (analyze dweomer, I think). Don’t know about the other incarnations. I only know this because I had to correct my dyslexic husband’s pronunciation, as it is a very useful spell in the games he GMs, and it was making me twitchy to hear it misspoken all the damn time.

I think it’s funny that Tolkien went with the very commonsensical dwimmer (and slight variations) and Gygax got all complicated with it instead, and now dweomer (the complicated made up version) is the one better known.

Language is so weird.

In Skyrim, the dwemer is another word for dwarf. http://elderscrolls.wikia.com/wiki/Dwemer

I understood partly_warmer as meaning that Tolkien wouldn’t be familiar with the computing term DWIM, and wouldn’t have used it in LOTR even if he was.

My vague memory from seeing the use of this word in The Lord of the Rings more than thirty years ago while reading it aloud with some other linguistics students and then researching the word was that “dweomer” was the actual Old English word and “dwimmer” was what it would have evolved into (if it had followed the standard path for sound changes) in Modern English, if it had not fallen into disuse.

I thought it meant “zombie”. You live and learn.

Eowyn also refers to the Witch King of Angmar as a “foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion,” just before she kills him. The Return of the King, Chapt. VI, p. 874 in my 1993 Houghton Mifflin edition.