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Is "Lórien" just a short form of "Lothlórien" or does each one apply to something unique?

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up vote 50 down vote accepted

It's the same thing. Lórien is the shortened Lothlórien.

Actually, it was first known as Lindórinand.

Tolkien had given many names for the specific location, each with a different meaning:

Name             Meaning                             Origin
Lindórinand      Valley of the Land of the Singers   Older Nandorin name of the area

Lórinand         Valley of Gold                      Nandorin name after the introduction
                                                     of mellyrn trees

Laurelindórenan  Valley of Singing Gold              Sindarin name after the introduction
                                                     of mellyrn trees

Lothlórien       The Dreamflower                     Sindarin name in the Third Age

Lórien           Dream Land                          Shortened form of Lothlórien
                                                     matching the name of the
                                                     Gardens of Lórien in Aman

The form Lórinand was also rendered in Quenya as Laurenandë and in Sindarin as Glornan or Nan Laur, all of the same meaning. Other, later names given to the land included the much later Rohirric name Dwimordene (from dwimor "phantom", an allusion to the perceived magic of the Elves), and the Westron name The Golden Wood.

--(Unfinished Tales 1980, History of Galadriel and Celeborn, note 5)

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According to Treebeard,

‘Hmm, did he now?’ rum­bled Tree­beard. ‘And I might have said much the same, if you had been going the other way. Do not risk get­ting en­tan­gled in the woods of Lau­re­lindórenan! That is what the Elves used to call it, but now they make the name shorter: Lothlórien they call it. Per­haps they are right: maybe it is fad­ing, not grow­ing. Land of the Val­ley of Singing Gold, that was it, once upon a time. Now it is the Dream­flower...

"Lórien" is just an even shorter version.

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+1'd this one, for the sheer beauty of letting an in-universe character answer in a single paragraph. I also like how Treebeard equates a shortening of the name with the fading of the real thing... – DevSolar May 30 '14 at 9:50

I would also like to add that in Tolkien mythos beside Lórien being a short version of Lothlórien there are also the Gardens of Lórien, the land where the vala Irmo dwelt. Irmo is ussually refered Lórien, but all seems to indicate that he received the name from the land, not the reverse.

Since I don't have in hand a english version of the valaquenta I leave you a snippet from wikipedia

Originally named Irmo [ˈirmo], but referred to more commonly as Lórien [ˈloːrien], after his dwelling place. Lórien and Mandos are the Fëanturi, masters of spirits. Lórien, the younger, is the master of visions and dreams. His gardens in the land of the Valar, where he dwells with his spouse Estë, are the fairest place in the world and are filled with many spirits. [...] Olórin, or Gandalf, prior to his assignment by Manwë to a role as one of the Istari, was a Maia long taught in the gardens of Lórien.

From Wikipedia

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