Places in Middle-earth
Type: Kingdoms, Realms, Lands
Region: Other Arda
Other Names Hither Lands, Great Lands, Outer Lands, Endor. Other variants were Thither Lands, Entar, Entarda, Endamar, Ennor.
Location: Middle-earth The lands to the east of the Great Sea; also called the Hither Lands, the Outer Lands, the Great Lands, and Endor. The Silmarillion, Index of Names Also the lands "between the seas". (See below).
Description: Tolkien's own explanations make clear the analogy with the continents of our earth:
" 'Middle-earth', by the way, is not a name of a never-never land without relation to the world we live in... it is... the name for the inhabited lands of Men 'between the seas'. And though I have not attempted to relate the shape of the mountains and land-masses to what geologists may say or surmise about the nearer past, imaginatively this 'history' is supposed to take place in a period of the actual Old World of this planet."
The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Letter #165 to the Houghton Mifflin Co.
[In response to a draft of an article which said (among other things Tolkien took issue with): Middle-earth…coresponds spiritually to Nordic Europe.]
"Not Nordic, please! … Geographically Northern is usually better. But examination will show that even this is inapplicable (geographically or spiritually) to 'Middle-earth'. This is an old word, not invented by me, as reference to a dictionary such as the Shorter Oxford will show. It meant the habitable lands of our world, set amid the surrounding Ocean. The action of the story takes place in the North-west of 'Middle-earth', equivalent in latitude to the coastlands of Europe and the north shores of the Mediterranean. But this is not a purely 'Nordic' area in any sense. If Hobbiton and Rivendell are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is at about the latitude of Florence. The Mouths of the Anduin and the ancient city of Pelargir are at about the latitude of ancient Troy.
The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Letter #294 to Charlotte and Denis Plimmer, 8 February 1967
"…With middangeard line 47 cf. my father's note in Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings, in A Tolkien Compass, p. 189: 'The sense is "the inhabited lands of (Elves and) Men", envisaged as lying between the Western Sea and that of the Far East (only known in the West by rumour). Middle-earth is a modern alteration of medieval middel-erde from Old English middan-geard.' "
The Shaping of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 4, Ch 6, Appendix, The Earliest Annals of Valinor: Ælfwine's translation of the Annals of Valinor into Old English
dôr 'land' (i.e. dry land as opposed to sea) was derived from ndor; it occurs in many Sindarin names, as Doriath, Dorthonion, Eriador, Gondor, Mordor, etc. In Quenya the stem was blended and confused with a quite distinct word nórë meaning 'people'; in origin Valinórë was strictly 'the people of the Valar', but Valandor 'the land of the Valar', and similarly Númen(n)órë 'people of the West', but Númendor 'land of the West'. Quenya Endor 'Middle-earth' was from ened 'middle' and ndor; this in Sindarin became Ennor (cf. ennorath 'middle lands' in the chant A Elbereth Gilthoniel).
The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names
EN- element or prefix = over there, yonder. Q en there, look! yonder. Adj. enta that yonder. Entar, Entarda (Enta + harda [3AR]) Thither Lands, Middle-earth, Outer Lands, East.
ENED- centre. Q endya, enya middle; ende middle, centre. N enedh. [To this original entry was added:] Endamar Middle-earth. Endor centre of the world. [See NED.]
The Lost Road and Other Writings, HoME Vol 5, Part 3, The Etymologies
Note: A reproduction of Map V from The Shaping of Middle-earth is here.
Contributors: Lyllyn 01Jan05