This seems like a very strange question, I know. It actually has three parts:

  • Does anyone of Thorins company ever call Bilbo a "hobbit"?
  • If so, how would they know what a hobbit was unless Gandalf had told them?
  • Is Gandalf the only way the dwarves would have known what a hobbit was?

Let me explain further. In Tolkien's Unfinished Tales, we read:

Gollum would not know the term "Hobbit," which was local and not a universal Westron word.

We also read that:

[Gollum] dared to pretend that he believed that the land of the halflings was near to the places where he had once dwelt beside the banks of the Gladden.

After taking a look at map, I see that Erebor and gladden fields are all right next to each other, however, gladden fields are even closer to The Shire than the lonely mountain.

enter image description here

This got me thinking - If Gollum would not have known what a "hobbit" was, how would the dwarves?

  • Am I missing something about your geography here? Dale is on the opposite side of (enormous) Mirkwood, is it not? If the dwarves knew the term hobbit, it would presumably be from Gandalf (or perhaps from Bilbo himself—I don't recall if there's any mention from before the time he sets out with them). It wasn't a very widely used or known word, as you mention. Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 22:48
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet I think when I initially saw the map I saw "drimrill dale" without seeing the "drimrill" part...
    – Jaken
    Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 22:49
  • 2
    How have I (as a spelling perfectionist) thought it's Dimrill Dale and not Drimrill Dale for the last >10 years? :-o
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 22:56
  • 1
    @randalthor that seems to be a mistake on that map. It was definitely Dimrill. (Some of the maps were redrawn over the years, not by Tolkien.) Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 23:28
  • 1
    You do know that the Dwarves were living in Eriador, quite near the Shire, right?
    – Miniman
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 6:53

4 Answers 4


Dwarves had always been frequent travellers through the Shire. From LoTR, chapter 2:

There were, however, dwarves on the road in unusual numbers. The ancient East–West Road ran through the Shire to its end at the Grey Havens, and dwarves had always used it on their way to their mines in the Blue Mountains.

So they were well acquainted with hobbits, and would certainly have known the word.

Another place where they would definitely have encountered hobbits before would have been at Bree, which was a historic meeting place and where in fact Thorin met Gandalf originally, this triggering the events of The Hobbit. There were, of course, hobbits in Bree.

  • 1
    I may be misremembering, but isn't the context there that there has always been dwarves on the road, but for several generations, their number had dwindled to all but nothing? Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 1:30

When they first meet Bilbo, Thorin refers to him as a hobbit.

"Hush!" said Gandalf. "Let Thorin speak!" And this is how Thorin began. "Gandalf, dwarves and Mr. Baggins! We are not together in the house of our friend and fellow conspirator, this most excellent and audacious hobbit - may the hair on his toes never fall out! all praise to his wine and ale!-"

At no point before this has anyone used the word "hobbit", although we've got to assume that Gandalf would have told them who (and, crucially, what) Bilbo was, before their arrival in the Shire.

  • Indeed he did. In Unfinished Tales there is a narrative called "The Quest of Erebor" which covers the meeting of Thorin and Gandalf in Bree, and the formation of the plan which Bilbo was roped into. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 13:18
  • Right. It could've been implied too considering the location of the meeting Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 20:39

The trip through the Shire took several days and the Dwarves would pass though various hobbit villages and farms and maybe towns. They would probably spend the nights in Hobbit inns and if they camped outdoors hobbits might ask them what they were doing on the land owned by those hobbits.

And Dwarf merchants probably visited the Shire to sell Dwarf made artifacts and buy food.

I'm sure all the Dwarves in Eridador counted hobbits as one of the four species of (non hostile) intelligent beings, though the least important one.


Thorin and his people actually had a realm-in-exile in the Blue Mountains, which was accessed via the great East road that ran through the Shire. They (and other Dwarf clans who travelled through those areas) would've known about Hobbits, and maybe even traded with them.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.