Is there any significance to the ring-bearers, who actually put the One Ring on, wearing the One Ring on their forefingers rather than on their ring fingers in the LOTR movies? Is this a stylistic choice just for the movies or did Tolkien specify the forefinger in the LOTR canon?

At first I thought it was because Sauron's finger was so much larger than a mere man's, but in Fellowship of the Ring the ring shrinks in Isildur's hand to become what appears to be an average size.

This may or may not be related, but I noticed that Aragorn wears his snake ring on his forefinger as well.

I wasn't able to find anything addressing the wearing of the One Ring at either the LOTR Wikia or The Tolkien Gateway.

  • 3
    is a the-one-ring tag necessary? Mar 27 '12 at 2:15
  • In the rare cases I've worn rings, I also put them on my forefinger or middle finger. It just feels more natural to me.
    – Izkata
    Mar 27 '12 at 2:36

Frodo's "third finger was missing" after Gollum bit off the Ring, according to the books (RotK). This wouldn't be the forefinger, regardless of how you count the fingers, so I assume it was a stylistic choice for the movies.

  • 1
    The actual quote is "It was the right hand, and the third finger was missing." Presumably that's the ring finger, but it could be the middle finger if you count the thumb or start from the little finger.
    – cjm
    Mar 27 '12 at 6:36
  • 3
    +1 and accept. I'm erring on the side of the third finger meaning the ring finger. A thumb is a thumb; fingers are fingers. They are all digits. :) Apr 26 '12 at 0:00
  • 8
    @Slytherincess: You can't get pedantic about the meaning of finger vs. thumb because, like many words, it depends on context. It is very normal to sometimes include the thumbs in the fingers. It is very normal to call your ring finger your fourth finger and your pinky your fifth finger. Just like it's normal to say you have ten fingers and toes. (It is a peeve of mine when people try to be technical about what words mean, arguing what is right or wrong based on other meanings. Usage determines usage. And context determines meaning. You can't be too logical about it) Aug 29 '16 at 17:03
  • 1
    @ThePopMachine: Thank you.
    – Junuxx
    Aug 30 '16 at 0:04

While Frodo may have placed it on the third finger at the time he lost it by Gollum biting it off, per dlanod's answer, there is book precedent for the forefinger during the encounter on Weathertop (emphasis added):

He [Frodo] shut his eyes and struggled for a while; but resistance became unbearable, and at last he slowly drew out the chain, and slipped the Ring on the forefinger of his left hand.

Fellowship of the Ring Book I Chapter 11: "Knife in the Dark," 240

So the movies at least have that as a canonical precedent. However, in conjunction with Frodo's loss of a different finger and the fact that the ring could grow and shrink to fit the wearer (and so fit on any finger one might choose, I suspect), there is no grounds that it was "always worn on the forefinger" (emphasis added) as the OP's question title suggests.

  • 1
    The text suggests that Frodo didn't take the Ring off its chain. He wasn't wearing it on the the usual sense, just putting a convenient finger inside the Ring.
    – Blackwood
    Aug 29 '16 at 1:37
  • @Blackwood: I can see how you read the text that way, though I think an equal argument could be made that taking the ring off the chain to put it on is implied. But a similar instance of the ring quite possibly still on the chain while he wears it occurs when he escapes from Boromir (The Fellowship of the Ring Book 2 Chapter 10: "The Breaking of the Fellowship"), so perhaps that is the main reason "the forefinger" is used, as you said, for convenience. Still, my quote does qualify if at any place "did Tolkien specify the forefinger in the LOTR canon?"
    – ScottS
    Aug 29 '16 at 2:22

From Christopher Tolkien's notes:

My father named the penultimate finger (the 'fourth finger' or 'ring-finger') the 'third finger'; so Frodo's 'third finger was missing' (RK p. 229).

  • 5
    I'm not sure I understand, the quote doesn't seem to support your conclusion.
    – Junuxx
    Aug 29 '16 at 16:27
  • The broken link appears to be to Vol 9 of HoME. Mar 27 '18 at 4:13

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