In honor of Peter Larson, a word much-loved by Gandalf. I have included all forms of “fool” including “foolish” and “folly”. For the fun of it, I am including who said it and of whom.

• 01.096 you were a fool; – Bilbo, of himself
• 02.002 “Don’t be a fool, – Bilbo, of himself
• 02.067 “You’re a fat fool, – Bert, of William
• 03.017 To fly would be folly, – The Tra-la-la-lally elves of the whole party
• 03.018 and his friends think them foolish – Dwarves of elves
• 03.018 (which is a very foolish thing to think), – the narrator of Dwarves
• 07.022 Don’t be a fool Mr. Baggins if you can help it; – Gandalf of Bilbo
• 07.136 but the wizard told them they were fools. – Gandalf of the dwarves
• 10.021 Some of the more foolish ran out of the hut – the narrator of the people of Laketown
• 12.009 what a fool I was – Bilbo of himself
• 12.077 Old fool! – Bilbo of Smaug!!
• 12.080 Bilbo you fool!’ – Bilbo of himself
• 14.009 The dragon is coming or I am a fool!’ – Bard of himself
• 14.011 and not the most foolish doubted – the narrator of the people of Laketown
• 14.035 Fools!’ said Bard. – Bard of the people of Laketown
• 16.028 Such a fool deserves to starve.’ – Bard of Thorin
• 17.036 Fools!’ laughed Bard, – Bard of dwarves
• 18.020 You are a fool, – Bilbo of himself

Well, then! Bilbo uses it most in this story and 5/6th of the time he is speaking to himself. Bard uses it next, and seems willing to spread the word widely, and the narrator next, who seems to have a low opinion of the people of Laketown. If we recall that it was Bilbo who wrote this book, we can pump up his total to nine uses of the word, and examine the Laketoen scenes through his mature book-writing eyes as well as through his perspective as the tale unfolded.


Always interested in Fate vs Free Will!

01.099 and I chose Mr. Baggins.
01.099 Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house,
01.100 I have chosen Mr. Baggins
01.117 the chosen and selected burglar.
01.130 and if I have chosen my own time
04.049 and they chose out their very quickest runners
05.015 I guess it’s a choice feast;
06.008 and why the wizard had not chosen someone with more sense.
08.040 is to choose the tallest tree
08.041 They chose him,
11.006 For this purpose he chose Balin and Fili and Kili,
12.039 Perhaps before long one or two could be chosen
12.052 I was chosen for the lucky number.’
12.095 and you shall choose your own fourteenth,
13.021 and choose my own share;
13.021 and I think I would choose this,
13.021 and choosing had not really been meant
17.015 Curse him for his choice of you!
17.018 that I might choose my own fourteenth share?
17.049 and it prevents your head from being specially chosen

What’s Going On in Chapter Eight?

I’m beginning to dive into Mirkwood, Word Fans. We all know that something special is going on in Chapter 8, but what? Yes, it’s true, I awakened at 4am because I am excited to get going! Ready for some spicy numbers?

Chapter 8 has

  • 10,301 words
  • 1,789 distinct words
  • 954 of which are used only once. My goodness. 53%. Now, that’s actually not statistically different from the 42% unique-to-total ratio of the whole work, it’s only one comparison, and we don’t know how widely the other chapters vary. But it is absolutely mathematically accurate to say “My goodness.”

Introducing a new tag this morning: “eight”, meaning “let’s talk about Chapter XIII, shall we? I’ll put the kettle on.”

Some Numbers to Warm Us on an Early Mud Season Evening

While I promise that I’m not beginning big project on apostrophes, I thought that my Word Fans would like to know that there are 3006 of them in The Hobbit.

I find 96,134 words in the work, 6320 distinct words, and 2707 of these occur only once. I am ready to bet that a 42% distinct word count is … unusual.

For examples of words used only once which are not already in our concordance – therefore are common – here’s the challenge I shall accept for the letter A. (AROUND!!! Wow!)

  • accomplished
  • active
  • advantage
  • affect
  • affection
  • afford
  • aground
  • alliances
  • amount
  • ample
  • anyhow
  • apologetically
  • appealed
  • appointed
  • appreciatively
  • around
  • array
  • arts
  • assembled
  • attend
  • aye

New Lexos Features!

Friends, I knew that the wonderful Lexos folks had been adding features and goodness since my Lexos-analyzing heyday in 2015. Today I had cause to give it all a good look-see*. I am head over heels.

Expect some new and very sassy graphs, friends. Very. Sassy. Graphs.

*Look-see, a perfectly cromulent hyphenated word according to OED, and the related non-word “make-see” just took me down a vast and mighty rabbit-hole. You have been warned.

“look-see, n.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2019, Accessed 6 March 2019.


I am thrilled to report that the students in my Intro College Comp course here at River Valley Community College are enthralled by my demo of this project! We chose “Sky” as a word to explore. For a work with so many landscape references, I am amazed that the common word “Sky” comes up so infrequently.

• 01.083 in a dark sky above the trees.
• 03.047 in the sky together.
• 03.050 blue sky
• 06.067 in the sky
• 06.078 beneath the sky!
• 06.085 in the sky,
• 08.004 and of the sky,
• 09.061 He could see the paler sky between them.
• 10.018 in the sky
• 11.014 and was open to the sky above;
• 11.037 and evening sprang into the sky.
• 12.007 in a pale sky barred with black
• 14.002 in the sky.
• 14.040 here and there across the sky.
• 16.007 The sky was black
• 17.040 A black cloud hurried over the sky.
• 17.042 and gazed at the sky.
• 17.054 Soon actual darkness was coming into a stormy sky;
• 19.019 the sky darkened


In honor of Professor Verlyn Flieger, we explore the common word “adventure”, which is not so very common for a hobbit to have…

Coming to us from Latin through French and Anglo-Norman, “adventure” meant destiny, fate in the 11th century and the meaning moved to, chance event, accident, chance, fortune, luck by the 12th century. Adventurous activity, especially as undertaken by knights and even marvel, wonder. The sense of a certain type of story full of the deeds of brace knights became part of this word in the 13th and 14th centuries.

• 01.003 but also because they never had any adventures
• 01.003 This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure,
• 01.004 and have adventures.
• 01.005 Not that Belladonna Took ever had any adventures
• 01.006 and adventures sprouted up all over the place wherever he went,
• 01.011 in an adventure that I am arranging,
• 01.012 and have no use for adventures.
• 01.013 We don’t want any adventures here,
• 01.017 and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures?
• 01.020 to send you on this adventure.
• 01.021 Sorry! I don’t want any adventures,
• 01.023 and beginning to think that he had escaped adventures very well.
• 01.043 for they sounded much too adventurous –
• 01.058 whether a most wretched adventure
• 01.060 in the least an adventure.
• 01.123 a fine adventurous lad
• 01.132 and lots of adventures of a most unpleasant sort he had,
• 02.027 but still he began to feel that adventures were not so bad after all.
• 02.032 never saying if he was in the adventure
• 02.036 adventures are not all pony-rides
• 03.025 He thought their opinion of his adventure might be interesting.
• 03.033 in the story of Bilbo’s great adventure is only a small one,
• 03.050 with their hearts ready for more adventure,
• 04.003 when you are off on dangerous adventures
• 04.004 that they would pass without fearful adventure
• 06.019 Then they wanted to know all about his adventures
• 06.088 after the dreadful adventures
• 06.100 So ended the adventures of the Misty Mountains.
• 07.011 for after all this is not my adventure.
• 07.128 that the adventure was far more dangerous
• 08.047 their tale of all the many adventures they had had since.
• 08.145 and the beginning of another adventure
• 09.012 tiresome, uncomfortable adventure!
• 09.063 much of his adventures that night,
• 09.063 and greatest adventure,
• 10.002 and through many adventures to see it,
• 10.011 and if you want to go on with this silly adventure –
• 12.006 at the beginning of their adventures
• 12.041 in their adventure.
• 12.058 since you know all about Bilbo’s adventures
• 12.080 You aren’t nearly through this adventure yet,’
• 15.024 In any case he felt that the adventure was,
• 16.016 and ever since the adventure
• 18.018 This is a bitter adventure,
• 18.021 and he was now weary of his adventure.
• 18.051 and adventures before he got back.
• 18.054 and he turned his back on his adventure.
• 19.005 to hear the tale of their adventures.
• 19.024 for their nasty adventure with Tom
• 19.047 that all your adventures