Sindarin: "Black Chasm"

First it is not a very flattering name, second it is the name given by the Dwarves enemy. So why is it used by Gimli when referring to the mines. It has other more flattering names.

Khazad-dûm means "Delving of the Dwarves" in Dwarvish

(Delving means to dig or excavate)


the Dwarrowdelf which I think also means Delving of the Dwarves

Yet 'Khazad-dûm' seems to only be used with negative connotations. Surely the Dwarves would like to use their own name for the mines?

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    I don't know. I am more troubled by the fact that Moria is actually inscribed on the doors Khazad-dûm, over a 1000 years before it got the name!
    – user46509
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 15:57
  • That's because the gate was made by Elves, so of course they would use the Sindarin name and not Khazad-Dhum: Ennyn Durin aran Moria - pedo mellon a minno. (The doors of Durin, lord of Moria: say “friend” and enter). 'Moria' was not used of the ancient Dwarf-city until after it was deserted by the Dwarves themselves - but by the late Third Age the two names had come to be used interchangeably.
    – Codosaur
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 14:39
  • @Codosaur and now-unpersoned user46509: A little-appreciated fact is that was the beginning of the estrangement of the Noldor and the Gwaith-i-Mírdain. The inscription was a practical joke on the part of the Elves. See flyingmoose.org/tolksarc/theories/cannibal.htm. That the cited answer itself substitutes Narvi for Celebrimbor can only be understood as a further practical joke in a meta sense of the term.
    – Lesser son
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 10:19

1 Answer 1


The Lord of the Rings Appendix F, THE LANGUAGES AND PEOPLES OF THE THIRD AGE, has this to say about the language the Dwarves use (emphases mine):

and it was according to the nature of the Dwarves that, travelling and labouring and trading about the lands, as they did after the destruction of their ancient mansions, they should use the languages of men among whom they dwelt. Yet in secret (a secret which unlike the Elves, they did not willingly unlock, even to their friends) they used their own strange tongue, changed little by the years; for it had become a tongue of lore rather than a cradle-speech, and they tended it and guarded it as a treasure of the past. Few of other race have succeeded in learning it. In this history it appears only in such place-names as Gimli revealed to his companions; and in the battle-cry which he uttered in the siege of the Hornburg. That at least was not secret, and had been heard on many a field since the world was young. Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu! 'Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!'

The language of the Dwarves isn't used even by the Dwarves themselves in their day-to-day lives. Even the names they use are in the Human tongue, and their secret Dwarven names they keep to themselves:

Gimli's own name, however, and the names of all his kin, are of Northern (Mannish) origin. Their own secret and 'inner' names, their true names, the Dwarves have never revealed to any one of alien race. Not even on their tombs do they inscribe them.

It's entirely possible that not even all Dwarves are proficient with their tongue, which, in the third age, has become like Latin to the people of Europe, the tongue of lore and learning, but not used much.

  • 1
    and just when I was about to type the answer and bam.. +1 for the correct observations... Commented May 21, 2015 at 7:44
  • Much like Welsh or Cornish.
    – Gaius
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 11:33

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