Does Gríma have a surname? Wormtongue was a nickname/epithet and not his actual name - but did he have a genuine one?

  • 5
    Why does he need a surname? As I recall not everyone had one in LOTR, some were just idendified by their parentage. I think he's just Gríma, son of Gálmód,
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 12:00
  • 1
    You might wanna consider taking a look at askmiddlearth.tumblr.com/post/68901705464/… where the author has given an excellent overview of last names in Middle-earth.
    – Voronwé
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 13:02

1 Answer 1


In The Lord of the Rings, Hobbits of the Shire and Bree and the Men of Bree are seen to have surnames...

The Men of Bree seemed all to have rather botanical (and to the Shire-folk rather odd) names, like Rushlight, Goatleaf, Heathertoes, Appledore, Thistlewool and Ferny (not to mention Butterbur). Some of the hobbits had similar names. The Mugworts, for instance, seemed numerous. But most of them had natural names, such as Banks, Brockhouse, Longholes, Sandheaver, and Tunnelly, many of which were used in the Shire.

...but not everyone in the wide world of Middle-earth have them.

What you're looking at here in the name "Wormtongue" is an epithet, or as it is also called, a nickname. Most people lack a surname, with their names ending with "son of ..." instead. Eg. Aragorn son of Arathorn, Gimli son of Gloin.

In Grima's case, he would just be addressed as Grima, son of Galmod, of Rohan, and therefore does not have a surname.

To paraphrase from an excellent answer found here; it would seem that the use of surnames is almost uniquely found in the Shire and Bree. Hobbits, who love genealogy and the study of their family trees and such, used surnames to distinguish themselves and others based on their family. Bree, a town "heavily influenced by hobbit culture" (by having that peculiar Hobbit-Men relationship), started using surnames as well. It would appear that this culture did not spread to lands elsewhere.

  • 1
    And elves, no? E.g. Arwen Undomiel. Or is Undomiel simply an elven epithet?
    – Flater
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 14:00
  • 2
    @Flater Undomiel is Quenya for "twilight" and "star", also known as Evenstar. Therefore it would be an elven epithet
    – Voronwé
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 14:02
  • 1
    Elven names area little more complicated, but they don't have surnames as we understand them: More detail here, scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/71432/… Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 14:03
  • Hmm, that's an odd answer. (and source) son of Galmod, given Rohan being modeled on Mercia (cf Shippey) makes him Grima Galmondsen/Galmondson. Or did that Nordic / Germanic habit not cross the channel when the Saxons and Danes moved into England before Alfred's time? Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 20:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.