I just read the following text on tolkiengateway.net:

The name Moria means "Black Chasm" and was a derogatory description of the place which the Dwarves did not like, and was given after Durin's Bane took over the city in the Third Age. It is therefore a mystery why that name appears on an inscription made in the Second Age, and made in consent with the Dwarves.

It discusses the inconsistency of the name Moria appearing on the Doors of Durin. Was Tolkien aware of this? Did he ever comment on this?


I am not asking why the Dwarves dislike the name, but if they could see the future? How can the name Moria appear on the doors, which were built in the Second Age, when it was given in the Third Age?


Second Age:

A rare friendship sprang up between the Dwarves and the Elves of this new land. Eregion's ruler, Celebrimbor, helped to construct the famous and magical gate that became known as the West-gate of Moria..

Third Age:

In that time it was given a new name, Moria, the Black Pit.

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    Can you find any other source for the claim that "Moria" was considered derogatory? I'm not familiar with this interpretation, and the mor morpheme appears not only in Mordor and Morgoth, but also in Mormegil (the Black Sword, a name given to Turin Turambar) and others, and doesn't necessarily imply a pejorative meaning. Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 12:34
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    My question is not really about why they dislike the name Moria. The doors were made in the Second Age. Khazad-dûm was given the name Moria in the Third Age. I shall edit my question.
    – Dunebro
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 12:54
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    Going over the original Sindarin used on Durin's Door, it does seem to be an anachronism - it uses the name Moria explicitly, unlike "Hollin", which is written as Eregion originally. Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 14:38
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    @Kevin - since the quote is unsourced, I hesitate to draw many conclusions from it. But if it were true, the implication I drew was that Celebrimbor went back and inscribed the name after it became known as Moria. As far as the real answer, I lean towards Avner's (which admittedly does not explain in-universe)
    – The Fallen
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 15:27
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    Looking in the primary sources (Silmarillion, LOTR), I see “Khazâd-dûm, (…) that was afterwards in the days of its darkness called Moria” (Sil. ch. 10) and “Moria is an Elvish name, and given without love” (LOTR app. F-II). I can't find any citation for the name “Moria” dating to the Third Age: the Silmarillion quote doesn't rule out the name being used by elves before the time of darkness, and the name becoming more common later. Nor can I find a citation for the Dwarves considering the name outright derogatory: they may well have considered it the normal name in Elvish.
    – user56
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 20:46

1 Answer 1


In the Lord of the Rings Readers Companion (Hammond and Scull, so it may be considered of high authority so far as Tolkien scholarship goes) this question is dealt with, and the following options are considered as potential answers:

  • The name was given because Khazad-Dum was underground, not because of any particular horror or darkness (Elves being lovers of light and the green earth), and dates back further than is commonly accepted.
  • Celebrimbor foresaw the name.
  • A later craftsman reworked the inscription.
  • The "magic lettering" had re-arranged itself when Khazad-Dum came to be called Moria.
  • "Hadhodrond" (the Elves original name for Moria) was actually on the doors all along, but Gandalf just read out "Moria" when reading it aloud, in the same way as he read out "Hollin" where "Eregion" was inscribed. In this scenario it's assumed that the name "Moria" in the illustration was a mistake made by the illustrator of the Red Book.

Of these, the last one seems most credible, and in the absence of a canonical explanation from Tolkien (and being Hammond and Scull one must work on the basis that there is no canonical explanation) it's what I'm inclined to go with.

  • 3
    Behold a deleted user keeps gaining rep!
    – Joshua
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 21:28

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