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Do Tolkien's Elves Have Pointy Ears?

Updated on January 15, 2015

Elf Ears (and Hobbit Ears) in Tolkien's Stories

Did Tolkien's Elves really have pointed ears, or was that made up for Peter Jackson's films, based on popular depictions of elves and fairies that include things like wings and pixie dust? The Lord of the Rings never describes Elf-ears. But there's good reason to think the answer is yes. Here's why.

Note: This is one of many Lord of the Rings resource pages by Tinw, a member of the lore forums of The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza. For casual or in-depth discussions of Middle-earth, please drop by!

Tolkien on Elves' Pointed Ears

The following quote is from the "Etymologies," Tolkien's private notes about the language of the Elves (Quendi), which he was playing with during the years between writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.


*lassë  leaf: Q lasse, N lhass; Q lasselanta   leaf-fall, autumn, N lhasbelin (*lassekwelêne), cf. Q Narquelion   [KWEL]. Lhasgalen   Greenleaf (Gnome name of Laurelin). (Some think this is related to the next and *lassê   ear. The Quendian ears were more pointed and leaf-shaped than Human.)*

J.R.R.Tolkien, The Lost Road, p. 409 paperback edition.

*Note: editor Christopher Tolkien wasn't sure about the word "human", but it was confirmed in Vinyar Tengwar Issue #45.

In Letters #27, Tolkien describes how he imagines hobbits. Among other characteristics, he states they have:

"A round, jovial face; ears only slightly pointed and 'elvish'."

And just to give the dead horse one last thump, here's Tolkien's drawing of Mirkwood, home of Legolas, showing the leaf-shape JRRT usually uses in his art.

So there you have it. I doubt Tolkien had ears a foot long in mind, but yes, his Elves' ears were pointed.

Poll: Convinced? - Do Tolkien's Elves have pointed ears?

Do you agree? Is that enough evidence to prove Tolkien's Elf ears are pointed?

See results

The History of Middle-Earth - Dive into Tolkien's World

The Histories of Middle Earth, Volumes 1-5
The Histories of Middle Earth, Volumes 1-5
Christopher Tolkien has done fans and scholars a tremendous service by collecting, editing, and publishing his father's notes and unfinished work on Middle-earth. These books are dense in places, but if you're willing to browse, you'll learn how Tolkien came to develop his wonderful Middle-earth, its languages, legends and early history. There's some amazing stories, too, fully as vivid as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.. HOME 1-5 covers all Tolkien's writing about Middle-earth before he wrote The Lord of the Rings, and some of it is fascinating! For instance, the precursor to Sauron is a monstrous kitty cat!

Guestbook - For pointy-eared lovers!

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