In Tolkien's world, "Men" (i.e., humans) are one thing and "Elves" are another. However, within the category of "Men", there are obviously subcategories for each gender (i.e., men and women, or male and female).

Are there analogous categories for the Elven equivalent of men and women?

None of the possibilities I have come up with are particularly satisfying: Elf-man and Elf-woman, he-Elf and she-Elf, Elfor and Elfess, etcetera. And it would be confusing to use "man" and "woman" for Elves, because "man" refers to a completely different and distinct species (albeit one that can interbreed with Elves).

  • I dont recall specific gender terms, just elf women being referred to as maidens in a few passages. If seems Tolkien uses that to differentiate in a couple of places.
    – user46509
    Jun 22, 2015 at 6:16
  • 2
    I use "Elf" and "Elfette".
    – Omegacron
    Jun 22, 2015 at 19:15
  • Wow, looks like you got three different answer from canon from three different people. Sucks when that happens.
    – Escoce
    Apr 7, 2016 at 23:47
  • I've seen something about elleth, ellon etc., though I'm not sure where it might stem from.
    – AJL
    Apr 8, 2016 at 0:31

4 Answers 4


From Laws and Customs among the Eldar:

"In all such things not concerned with the bringing forth of children, the neri and nissi (that is, the men and women) of the Eldar are equal...there was less difference in strength and speed between elven-men and elven-women that had not borne child than is seen among mortals."

So i'd say Neri=men, Nissi=women

  • 2
    Unless I'm misremembering, the singular of those is nêr and nissë, respectively. Apr 7, 2016 at 23:46

(I'm basing this answer on a keyword search through my "History of Middle-Earth" pdf)

Luthien was called both an elf-maid and elf-maiden. Morwen (mother of Turin), although human, had an epithet Eledhwen which meant "elf-maiden". Galadriel is called the Elf-lady once. Sam's daughter Elanor was said to look more like an elf-maid than a hobbit. The name of the grave of Finduilas, Haudh-en-Elleth, means "Mound of the Elf-maid", and she herself is called elf-woman once.

In Tolkien's levish lexicon, Ellon means "elf-man", and Elleth "elf-woman".

Incidentally, in his earler versions of the legendarium, Tolkien used the term "men" for elves and even orcs, in the sense of "persons", "people". Example from The Fall of Gondolin in The Book of Lost Tales:

But now the men of Melko have assembled their forces

In that tale, male elves are often called simply "the men".

  • Thanks for the answer, +1 and much obliged. The problem with the "maid"/"maiden" thing (and yes, I did remember about all the Elf maidens) is that it refers only to unmarried (possibly even virgin) females, usually relatively young ones.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 22, 2015 at 8:02
  • I think the Sindarin words "Ellon" and "Elleth" is what you're looking for. I've also just found numerous references to "womenfolk" of the elves in my HoME pdf, if that helps.
    – Maksim
    Jun 22, 2015 at 8:17

I've come up with the following:

Elvish Words

In terms of the various Elvish languages the Elvish Dictionary provides the following words for the nouns 'male' and 'female':


  • 'benn' (Noldorin)
  • 'hanwa' (Quenya)



  • 'manyel' or 'ní' or 'nissë' or 'wenci' (Quenya)


(Note: the other languages have adjectives for 'female', but not nouns which is what the question is focused on)


In terms of what the correct 'term' for males and female Elves, the best I can find is 'elf-man' (Adanedhel), but that seems to refer to a half-Human/half-Elf (thanks to Wad Chener for that pick-up).

  • @WadCheber no worries and cheers to you too ;) Jun 22, 2015 at 8:03

Male and Female would work nicely

we call animals male and female so its an acceptable form when taking about different species

if there are elven words they would translate into male and female

EDIT: perhaps I misunderstood the question

however a very limited internet search turned up a translator that seems to be programmed for tolkien elvish that returns

male= hanwa

and female=inya

  • 4
    I'm afraid I am looking for canonical information, based on Tolkien's own writing. I'm not interested in speculation about which words we might choose to apply.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 22, 2015 at 5:25
  • 1
    That's a lot better. Thank you and welcome to SE.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 22, 2015 at 7:51

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