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Why was Túrin called "Turambar" (Master of Fate/Doom)? Is it something to do with the Second Prophecy of Mandos?

2 Answers 2

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It's "Master of Doom", and he made up that name himself:

And with the beginning of spring Túrin cast off his darkness, and grew hale again; and he arose, and he thought that he would remain in Brethil hidden, and put his shadow behind him, forsaking the past. He took therefore a new name, Turambar, which in the High-elven speech signified Master of Doom; and he besought the woodmen to forget that he was a stranger among them or ever bore any other name.

-- The Silmarillion, "Of Túrin Turambar"

The "darkness" mentioned was a deep depression Túrin fell into after learning about the death of Finduilas, and the Doom can only be the curse that Morgoth placed on Túrin's family.

So in giving himself that name, Túrin is basically saying that he plans to escape the curse by abandoning his past and going native among the woodmen.

It doesn't work.

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  • +1 for the overall answer, although the spoiler alone would be enough Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 11:13
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Túrin himself choose the name Turambar, meaning "Master of Doom" or "Conqueror of Fate", to signify that he thought he had escaped his doom. He adopted it as a new name in an attempt to put his past behind him and start afresh with a clean slate

Choosing the name

Tolkien describes the event where Túrin choose his new name briefly in The Grey Annals (published The War of the Jewels), and also in a slightly longer form in Narn i Chîn Húrin (published in Unfinished Tales and The Children of Húrin).

And with the beginning of spring Turin cast off his darkness, and grew hale again; and he arose, and he thought that he would remain in Brethil, hidden, and put his shadow behind him, forsaking the past. He took therefore a new name, Turambar, and besought the woodmen to forget that he was a stranger among them or ever bore any other name.
The Grey Annals - Year 496 - §303

But when at last Túrin shook off the darkness, spring was returning; and he awoke and saw sun on the green buds. Then the courage of the House of Hador awoke in him also, and he arose and said in his heart: ‘All my deeds and past days were dark and full of evil. But a new day is come. Here I will stay at peace, and renounce name and kin; and so I will put my shadow behind me, or at the least not lay it upon those that I love.’
Therefore he took a new name, calling himself Turambar, which in the High-elven speech signified Master of Doom; and he dwelt among the woodmen, and was loved by them, and he charged them to forget his name of old, and to count him as one born in Brethil.
Narn i Chîn Húrin - "The Coming of Túrin into Brethil"

When editing The Silmarillion, Christopher used the shorter of the two passages, but incorporated the translation of the name given found in the longer version.

Meaning of the name

The name Turambar has been translated by Tolkien as "Master of Doom", "Master of the Dark Shadow", "Master of Fate", and "Conqueror of Fate". Tolkien's unfinished linguistic companion volume to The Lord of the Rings explores the etymology of the name in more depth, explaining that it was comprised of the verbal stem tur "dominate, master, conquer" and the root mbar "settle, decision, doom, fate".

ambar 'world'; umbar 'fate'. These words appear to have been closely related in origin. ... The Sindarin form was amarth, as in Amon Amarth, translated in Common Speech Mount Doom. The comparison shows that we are dealing with derivatives of a Primitive Eldarin base √MBAR. These initial nasal groups were normally simplified in the development of Quenya, and (later) of Sindarin. ... In some cases, however, in both languages the group remained, and then in initial position became syllabic ṃb-: so ṃbar. ... Thus was produced the word-stem ṃbar ...
It may be noted that the ancient name Turambar 'master of fate', adopted in pride by Túrin son of Húrin, the old post-vocalic form of the stem -mbar is preserved. The formation is tura-mbar, in which the verbal vase √TUR 'dominate, master, conquer etc.' has, as was usual in these ancient formations where a verbal element was followed by another in objective function, the addition of the active suffix ā̆.
Parma Eldalamberon #17 - "Words, Phrases and Passages in The Lord of the Rings" - "Ambar, umbar, Turambar."

√MBAR. 'Settle' is in fact, in its various branches of meaning, a very close rendering of the sense of base ..√MBAR. Thus English 'settlement' can mean dwellings established in a chosen site by a group of people; or (the terms of) an agreement decided upon in a debated matter. ... ambar- was thus 'the great settlement'. This may be translated 'world' meaning this Earth as the place (by destiny) inhabited by Elves and Men, the Children of Eru. ... The decision, the fixing of the dwelling place, was thought of as proceeding from Eru and was so part of his Umbar. Umbar, so used, might be said to be "the history of Ambar," so far as already accomplished, and its future so far as already arranged and defined.
It was seldom if ever by the Eldar used of lesser matters; but in later days it was. This is found in the Silmarillion and other legends of the Elder Days, which even when written in Quenya were largely written or compiled by Men, the Numenoreans or their ancestors, and so coloured by human notions, and beliefs not actually held by the Eldar. Thus it was used of events, foretold or partly foreseen, such as the discovery of the Ring. And it could be used of 'dooms' or curses laid on individuals, especially those laid by thought on those being opponents. The chief case was the doom laid by Morgoth on Húrin and all his kin. This 'doom' Túrin believed he had escaped, and had eluded Morgoth's sight, and hence rashly he assumed the name Turambar, Conqueror of Fate (or rather Master of Fate), and so by concealing his real name Túrin actually assisted the fulfilment of the 'doom'.
Parma Eldalamberon #17 - "Words, Phrases and Passages in The Lord of the Rings" - "√MBAR"

Other times that the meaning of the name is relevant to the story

It should also be noted that meaning of Tarumbar comes up a few times in the story.

Then Níniel said to him: "Of all things I have now asked the name, save you. What are you called?"
"Turambar," he answered.
Then she paused as if listening for some echo; but she said: "And what does that say, or is it just the name for you alone?"
"It means," said he, "Master of the Dark Shadow. For I also, Níniel, had my darkness, in which dear things were lost; but now I have overcome it, I deem."
Narn i Chîn Húrin - "Niënor in Brethil"

The die is cast. Now comes the test, in which my boast shall be made good, or fail utterly. I will flee no more. Turambar indeed I will be, and by my own will and prow­ess I will surmount my doom - or fall. But falling or riding, Glaurung at least I will slay.
Narn i Chîn Húrin - "The Coming of Glaurung"

"What a comforter are you!" she cried. "But Brandir, friend: wedded or unwedded, mother or maid, my dread is beyond en­during. The Master of Doom is gone to challenge his doom far hence, and how shall I stay here and wait for the slow coming of tidings, good or ill? This night, it may be, he will meet the Dragon, and how shall I stand, or sit, or pass the dreadful hours?"
Narn i Chîn Húrin - "The Coming of Glaurung"

"Great heart!" said Turambar. "Happy was the choice that took you for a helper!" But even as he spoke, a great stone hurtled from above and smote Hunthor on the head, and he fell into the water, and so ended: not the least valiant of the House of Haleth. Then Turambar cried: "Alas! It is ill to walk in my shadow! Why did I seek aid? For now you are alone, O Master of Doom, as you should have known it must be. Now conquer alone!"
Narn i Chîn Húrin - "The Death of Glaurung"

[Earlier draft:] Then Turambar said aloud: 'Now thou art alone at the end, Master of Doom. Fail now or conquer!'
Quoted in The War of the Jewels, in the commentary to The Grey Annals §§322-5

Then suddenly Niënor started to her feet, and stood pale as a wraith in the moon, and looked down on Túrin, and cried: "Farewell, O twice beloved! A Túrin Turambar turún 'ambartanen: master of doom by doom mastered! O happy to be dead!" Then distraught with woe and the horror that had overtaken her she fled wildly from that place; and Brandir stumbled after her, crying: "Wait! Wait, Níniel!"
Narn i Chîn Húrin - "The Death of Glaurung"

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  • It's interesting that Túrin himself gives a loose translation of the name, rather than that being conveyed by the narrator. Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 2:11

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