The corrupting effects of the One Ring on the hobbit Sméagol are well-known: when his relative Déagol found the Ring, Sméagol became instantly affected by its influence and strangled Déagol when he refused to hand over the Ring. The One Ring changed Sméagol into a grotesque creature that lived in the darkness and shadows of goblin tunnels and caves; and fed on stray goblins / fishes or basically whatever squiggly stuff that could be found. The ring also gave him unnaturally long life span and a personality like a crazy road lizard.

But how did Sméagol's name become Gollum? Why did people start to address him as Gollum? Was the name an inherent alter-ego that came with the ring? Did someone name him Gollum?

  • 2
    I don't see how this question is a duplicate of that one. Sure, they're related, and the not-accepted answer features one of the two quotes that explain the origins of his name, but "Does Gollum know that others call him Gollum?" is not the same as "Why or how did Sméagol's name become Gollum?"
    – BCdotWEB
    May 23, 2015 at 7:21
  • 1
    yah, same my doubt here.. i really dont see how its a duplicate.. May 25, 2015 at 3:03
  • I’m voting to reopen this since the questions are different, and the (not accepted) answer to the other question doesn’t really explain why “they called him Gollum” (and it’s not even immediately obvious from the quote). The quote here from The Hobbit is much more explicit. It also makes a good dupe target for this.
    – Adamant
    Oct 19, 2016 at 6:03
  • And in accordance with the advice of Shog9, it’s perhaps worth noting that not all good answers to other question would even mention how Smeagol came to be called Gollum.
    – Adamant
    Oct 19, 2016 at 6:14

1 Answer 1


This is explained in the books and is hinted at in the films.

As Smeagol began to change physically because of his altered lifestyle, he frequently made a noise clearing his throat. This, by onomatopoeia, became 'Gollum'. Then others who saw him, not knowing his name or that he was a Hobbit began to call him Gollum.

The first time he is seen in the Fellowship of the Ring film, he makes the Gollum throat clearing sound a few times. This is to portray the origin of the epithet.

Here is how it is recounted in The Hobbit, or There and Back Again:

“Bless us and splash us, my precioussss! I guess it’s a choice feast; at least a tasty morsel it’d make us, Gollum!” And when he said Gollum he made a horrible swallowing noise in his throat. That is how he got his name, though he always called himself ‘my precious’.

And here's The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings:

"He took to thieving, and going about muttering to himself, and gurgling in his throat. So they called him GOLLUM, and cursed him, and told him to go far away; and his grandmother, desiring peace, expelled him from the family and turned him out of her hole."

This is described in detail here

  • so what you mean is "gollum gollum" is a throat clearing anomaly ??? can you kindly provide any excerpt or quote from the books. Will accept the same. May 21, 2015 at 12:10
  • I've added a link to the answer.
    – Chenmunka
    May 21, 2015 at 12:23
  • I might have said "swallowing" or "gulping" in his throat, which is a different action; but OK. May 21, 2015 at 15:10
  • Nice.. Understood n accepted.. May 21, 2015 at 16:40

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