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I know that Gimli's referred to as Gimli, son of Gloin, but I was discussing Lord of the Rings on a forum today, and someone argued that Gimli's a female. Their pieces of evidence that point this out are:

  • Gimli's explanation of females of his species (in an appendix in the books, and in the film he explains this to Eowyn)
  • Galadriel calling him a gentler, more refined Dwarf
  • Legolas apparently noticed (I'm requesting more information on what he noticed, as I don't recall this from the books)

Did Tolkien ever comment on this outside of the books? Was Gimli meant to secretly be female?

  • 7
    Gentler, more refined may have been influence from Legolas, or generally from traveling in cosmopolitan company. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 5 '11 at 0:41
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    Well, Legolas is an elf. They're experts at all things feminine, since all elves are female. :) – BBlake Nov 6 '11 at 4:09
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    Considering the first mention of Gimli, "There was a younger dwarf at Glóin's side: his son Gimli." I'd say Gloin's "SON" is a boy. – 202 Jul 3 '13 at 8:13
  • Since Gimli was smitten by Galadriel, that would make him a lesbian as well. – Oldcat Dec 4 '15 at 0:54
55

Gimli was probably male. He certainly had a beard - but that's not definitive, as the Appendix does explain that Dwarven women were outwardly indistinguishable from men, which presumably includes having beards:

They [dwarf women] are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart.

(This is presumably the source of the Cheery Littlebottom character in Pratchett's books - a female dwarf, complete with beard, who decides to explore her feminine side and starts wearing dresses and high heels.)

But more to the point is the sentence immediately preceeding that:

They seldom walk abroad except at great need.

Given that, it seems unlikely that Gimli, who certainly did more than his fair share of walking abroad, was a woman.

  • 17
    Here, have a +1 just for mentioning Littlebottom. – sbi Nov 8 '11 at 11:21
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    So taking the one ring to be destroyed in the fires of Mt Doom isn't great need? – AncientSwordRage Jan 10 '12 at 8:52
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    @Pureferret It is a great need, but for Middle Earth, not for the Dwarf under discussion. I think the phrase "at great need" refers to the female Dwarf herself (e.g. she is forced to move because her home is under attack by Orcs). In this case, she wouldn't be forced to join the Fellowship because there are willing male Dwarves available. – Andres F. Jan 17 '12 at 2:31
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    @Pureferret True. We must assume females are even scarcer, and not likely to take on "adventurer" duties. Then again, there might be a Dwarven-Eowyn, so you have a point ;) – Andres F. Jan 17 '12 at 12:39
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    @jwenting "Child"? "Kin"? "Descendant"? "Brood"? "Heir"? "Offspring"? Why chose "son" in replacement of those words? – Django Reinhardt May 14 '13 at 14:14
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I'd be interested to see what said person has to say about Legolas noticing something, but as it stands I don't see any of those points as evidence that Gimli was female.

Lacking evidence that dwarven women were referred to as "son", I think the name "Gimli, son of Gloin" is strong evidence that Gimli was, in fact, male.

Given this evidence in favor and none against, I must conclude that Gimli was male, and see no argument to the contrary. If you should find more evidence, please do present it.

  • But maybe, like @jwenting suggests in another comment, Dwarvish simply lacks the distinction between "son" and "daughter", and the translation to English (or Westron!) is forced to make an arbitrary choice. – Andres F. Jan 17 '12 at 2:28
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    @AndresF. "Child"? "Kin"? "Descendant"? "Brood"? "Heir"? "Offspring"? Why chose "son" in replacement of those words? – Django Reinhardt May 14 '13 at 14:13
  • @DjangoReinhardt I dunno. Because it sounds clumsier to human ears? Anyway, I'm just speculating :) It's pretty clear Gimli is male after all. – Andres F. May 14 '13 at 15:13
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No. Gimli was male. He eventually became a King.

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    I agree he was male. But King ? any references for that? I believe he traveled to the valar towards the end of his life. He was the only dwarf allowed to make the journey. – Egon Nov 6 '11 at 17:58
  • @Egon I think Jeff is referring to the fact that he was Lord of the Glittering Caves (of Aglarond). True, this isn't really being a king - he was still subordinate to the real King of Durin's Folk. – Daniel Roseman Nov 6 '11 at 18:38
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    The title of King might not necessarily indicate a male holder of the office. Queen Gimli, King of the Glittering Caves, is for example feasible (the dwarven language may not have a separate term for King and Queen, leading the title to read King in common even for female holders of the office). – jwenting Nov 30 '11 at 7:18
  • Empress Maria Theresa of Austria was named King of Hungary, since they could not be ruled by a Queen by Hungarian law or custom. – Oldcat Dec 4 '15 at 0:53
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Definitely male but, as a well-travelled dwarf, he may not have been as rough or coarse as some of his more stay-at-home brethren. He would have had a good knowledge of his race, and this explains his discussions of the females (provided as information in the original books).

I think he was just a more cultured dwarf. This may have confused or intrigued some of those he met, but does not impact his gender.

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