Melissa, your name is really cool! And cute. It means “honeybee.” We find it in Greek Mythology as the name of the Nymph who saved and raised Zeus, and it has changed little from antiquity. I also happen to really love how this name sounds, but I’m a weirdo linguist, don’t mind me.
In Quenya, a honeybee is a Nier. Pretty simple right?
Since this is used pretty exclusively as a feminine name, let’s add a feminine name suffix to it too. Niere – a female honeybee.
As for how this would work as a character’s name in an Arda setting… well, it’s a little inadequate. Elves don’t just name you the name that something else is, it’s always combined with other elements to tell you how the person is like their namesake. The easiest example that I can think of this is Thranduil – Vigorous River. His namesake is a river, but the vigorous part tells us he’s energetic and strong like a river. So, let’s see how someone could be like a bee by adding some adjectives to the name as see what we come up with, shall we?
- Nierince – Little Honeybee
- Lindanier – Melodic Honeybee
- Rainanier – Sweet-faced/Smiling Honeybee
- Aicanier – Fell Honeybee (this one stings!)
- Nurrulanier – Grumbling/Mumbling/Murmurring Honeybee
Adding a feminine name suffix makes: Nierincie, Lindaniere, Rainaniere, Aicaniere, and Nurrulaniere.
In Sindarin, we have a problem. We don’t know what the Sindarin word for Honeybee would have been. We have a Quenya word, an ancient root, but no Sindarin word provided by Tolkien. So, what do we do? We have three options here:
- Find a poetic way to translate it, like “honey bug.”
- Make a new word for Sindarin based on Common Eldarin *glis+rŏ.
- Give up.
If you prefer to not go into the iffy world of fan-coined words, then #3 is the option for you.
If you still want a Sindarin “honeybee,” #1 is the safest option. With that we can make “Glívudhu – Honey Bug.” As this is a compound word, in Sindarin a feminine name suffix wouldn’t likely be added, or it’d sound like it meant “Daughter of Honey-Bug.”
If you want to go into the deep end, then we can look at the ancient root that led to the word for “Honey” in Sindarin: √GLIS. I’m not using the root that Quenya used, √NEG, because it appears that in Sindarin, it never became associated with honey, just juice. Let’s add the suffix –rŏ, which means “person who does the action associated with this.” That makes “*Glisrŏ – honey-er, aka honeybee.” Then we add the Sindarin historical phonological development, which has the word develop like this: *glisrŏ > *glisr > *glithr > *glithor.
To make *Glithor into a name, let’s add a few feminine name suffixes, making: *Glithres, *Glithrel, and *Glithril.
As for naming your RP or fanfiction characters, Glívudhu works, indicating that the person has a sweet-tooth like a bee, perhaps. The names based on *Glithor don’t work, just like the Quenya ones didn’t. So, let’s add some adjectives, and see what we get!
- Glithrig – Little Honeybee
- Lenglithor – Melodic Honeybee
- Raenglithor – Sweet-faced/Smiling Honeybee
- Delulithor – Fell/Hateful/Deadly Honeybee
- Bruilithor – Noisy Honeybee
Melissa, I hope you like this article and found something helpful or interesting in it.
If you’d like your name translated in this series, comment below and I’ll consider it for a future article!
Wiktionary, “μέλισσα” Last edited: April 11th, 2020.
Oh! These articles are so lovely!
I’m just happy you didn’t go for option #3.
Would it be possible to do “Hilde” some time?
Sure! Hilde means “battle,” and it’s an element in a lot of Germanic names. It’s definitely going to come up a bunch!