My goodness. When measuring grindstones, a foot is eight inches. This is an old, old, old word (like, grindstone era), with all kinds of Frisian and Gothic relations. Guess what I did for the last ten minutes!

• 1.004 because their feet grow natural leathery soles
• 1.004 the small river that ran at the foot of The Hill.
• 1.063 jumped to their feet,
• 1.068 and found Thorin with his feet on the fender smoking a pipe.
• 1.081 Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.
• 1.096 and put your foot in it.’
• 1.109 “Five feet high the door
• 2.019 and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane,
• 2.042 not if the whole cavalcade had passed two feet off.
• 2.060 yer nassty little rabbit,” said he looking at the hobbit’s furry feet;
• 2.070 to scramble out of the way of their feet,
• 2.071 But his poor little feet had been very squashed
• 3.001 Already they seemed only a day’s easy journey from the feet of the nearest.
• 3.007 and up to meet the feet of the nearest mountain,
• 3.008 that opened suddenly at their feet,
• 3.024 but you had best get on foot,
• 3.040 beside the plain runes which say ‘five feet high the door
• 4.018 keeping time with the flap of their flat feet on the stone,
• 4.044 Soon they could hear even the flap of the goblin feet,
• 4.044 many many feet which seemed only just round the last corner.
• 5.012 He paddled it with large feet dangling over the side,
• 5.050 But when he put his long webby foot
• 5.073 and slapped his feet on the floor,
• 5.077 and he jumped at once to his feet,
• 5.129 seven feet forward
• 5.130 falling fair on his sturdy feet,
• 6.010 tripped up your feet,
• 6.040 rolled away from their feet;
• 6.043 and feet.
• 6.060 They left guards at the foot of the tree
• 6.064 in the air ten feet,
• 7.010 at the foot of the steps
• 8.001 and the quiet was so deep that their feet seemed to thump along
• 8.018 A couple of feet
• 8.029 Thorin was the only one who had kept his feet
• 8.030 Bombur had only one foot on the land
• 8.033 to their feet
• 8.037 Their feet ruffled
• 8.088 to see a dwarvish foot sticking out
• 8.132 at the feet of the high wooded lands.
• 9.003 till their feet were
• 9.028 and feet too,
• 9.050 and was pushed over into the cold water some feet below.
• 10.001 Under its rocky feet like an inland cliff
• 10.006 whose feet were piled with shingles.
• 10.019 they shouted leaping to their feet
• 10.030 All leaped to their feet.
• 10.034 with hurrying feet.
• 11.006 to the feet of Ravenhill.
• 11.013 there were fewer signs of the dragon’s marauding feet,
• 11.015 At last tired out they rested on the grass at its feet,
• 11.016 and fifty feet
• 11.032 A hole appeared suddenly about three feet from the ground.
• 11.038 A door five feet high
• 12.009 and put your foot right
• 12.033 for them to dare the long way on foot.
• 12.103 Your feet came from the waterside
• 13.019 and drawn his feet towards it.
• 13.019 before his feet
• 13.049 their feet slithered on stones rubbed smooth
• 14.008 and feet were hurrying.
• 14.014 with leaping shadows of dense black at their feet.
• 14.033 and here the Master rose to his feet
• 14.042 and they were forced to go the slower way by foot;
• 16.017 when he missed his footing on a round stone
• 17.028 I will sting your miserable feet.
• 17.048 and in the rocks at its feet,
• 17.048 before the Mountain’s feet
• 17.056 leapt down to the falls’ foot,
• 18.025 but the pursuit was still on foot,
• 18.046 and standing on one foot,
• 19.012 Soft is the grass, and let foot be like feather!
• 19.031 Yet feet that wandering have gone
• 19.035 not even wiping their feet on the mat,


To sleep.

I’ve not included “dead” or “death” in this one – do let me know if you think I ought. I’m right on the fence.

• 1.006 not since his friend the Old Took died,
• 1.072 and the fire died down,
• 1.081 They fled their hall to dying fall
• 3.017 The daylight is dying!
• 4.025 and slaves that have to work till they die
• 6.078 So dwarves shall die,
• 8.050 and died of starvation.
• 8.073 all noise at last died right away,
• 9.001 before they died of hunger
• 9.058 and he wondered if he would die of it before the luck turned,
• 11.004 died away to a plodding gloom.
• 13.002 I must feel the wind on my face soon or die.
• 13.003 We shall die here.’
• 14.038 and afterwards died,
• 15.017 saw him die,
• 15.019 and many have died,
• 17.055 in a dying fire.
• 18.024 in to die
• 19.044 and died of starvation

Signum University Graduation 2020

I will have the privilege in a few hours of addressing this year’s Signum University graduates. My own words alone are inadequate to express my awe and wonder in their accomplishments.

• Hurley, Kameron. The Light Brigade. Gallery / Saga Press. Kindle Edition.
• Sturgis, Amy. Speculative Fiction as Reflecting Shield: Defying and Defining the Darkness. Signum University’s Mythmoot VII. Keynote address.
• Tolkien, J.R.R. (2012-02-15). The Lord of the Rings: One Volume. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

And of course, I will be referring to the work of each of the graduates themselves.


An old, old, old, word – even had a past participle flogen back in the day. The etymological entry and the forms are, um, measurably a good 20 minute dive into the OED.

“flee, v.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2020, Accessed 7 August 2020.

• 1.081 They fled their hall to dying fall
• 4.037 and the goblin soldiers fled
• 6.065 and they fled off down the slopes crying
• 6.070 and fled into the forest
• 12.017 Then Bilbo fled.
• 12.078 and fled up the tunnel.
• 12.101 They fled further down the tunnel
• 13.043 that fled from the approach of their torches
• 17.048 and fled to either side.
• 17.050 and each flickered as it fled as if with stinging fire.
• 17.056 and rider fell or fled before them.
• 18.024 and they fled
• 18.024 and such as fled south or west
• 19.044 and fled with it,


And of course this one is related to another of our words, trample. Makes me wonder if I should pull them into one entry.

• 1.081 The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.
• 9.022 The guards were tramping away down the passages
• 12.03 unless any one fancies tramping the long open miles


Friends, today’s word has made me so happy. It means many things including:

A kind of basket made of rushes, used for packing figs, raisins, etc.; the quantity of raisins, etc. (30 to 75 lbs.) contained in this.

“frail, n.1.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2020, Accessed 31 July 2020.

And it’s only used once!

• 1.080 Laid low their towers and houses frail.


Such a wonderful word has, as you can imagine, many, many variant forms, a whole hatful of scribal errors of variant forms, and all kinds of connections to other northern European languages. Here’s a beautiful, beautiful tidbit:

The plural form houses is the only current example of a distinct plural form preserving the voicing of intervocalic s in standard English

“house, n.1 and int.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2020, Accessed 30 July 2020.

• 1.058 had not come right into his house.
• 1.080 Laid low their towers and houses frail.
• 1.090 in the house of our friend
• 1.095 I should have been sure we had come to the wrong house.
• 1.097 and I am quite sure you have come to the wrong house.
• 1.099 Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house,
• 2.039 such as might lead to a house or a farm;
• 3.006 in the Last Homely House.
• 3.007 to find the Last Homely House west of the Mountains.
• 3.008 for they saw now that the house might be hidden
• 3.024 and to the house beyond.
• 3.030 to the Last Homely House,
• 3.031 in that good house,
• 3.032 The master of the house was an elf-friend –
• 3.032 and Elrond the master of the house was their chief.
• 3.033 His house was perfect,
• 3.034 in that house.
• 4.002 and left the Last Homely House miles behind,
• 6.100 But all night he dreamed of his own house
• 7.022 again as long as you are within a hundred miles of his house,
• 7.023 and has a great wooden house;
• 7.031 and a long low wooden house.
• 7.032 and went down a wide track towards the house.
• 7.034 three walls of which were formed by the wooden house
• 7.044 that opened out of the courtyard into the house.
• 7.051 and Dori came round the house
• 7.088 He never invited people into his house,
• 7.088 and he never invited more than a couple of these to his house at a time.
• 7.094 since they left the Last Homely House
• 7.096 with the pillars of the house standing tall behind them,
• 7.125 and they followed round the house.
• 7.127 and my house is open to you,
• 7.131 nor to come near my house –
• 7.132 and Beorn’s house
• 8.004 who liked holes to make a house
• 8.047 The last thing that he remembered was the party at the hobbit’s house,
• 8.132 and had houses or huts on the ground
• 9.012 burgling the same house
• 10.028 on which were built the greater houses,
• 10.037 and housed
• 10.037 A large house was given up to Thorin
• 11.006 the grey ruins of ancient houses, towers, and walls.
• 11.012 in the fair house of Elrond,
• 12.004 he meant last spring before he left his own house,
• 14.015 and the roof of the Great House crumbled
• 14.015 and another house
• 14.018 that held their ground among the burning houses.
• 14.025 and ruined houses.
• 14.039 and housing.
• 14.040 in his wooden house,
• 17.010 But how came you by the heirloom of my house –
• 17.019 the treasure of my house.
• 18.051 to the doors of Beorn’s house;
• 19.001 Homely House.
• 19.005 and led them across the water to the house of Elrond.
• 19.005 in the house of Beorn;
• 19.017 in the house of Elrond,’
• 19.018 in that house,


Just a few:

• 1.080 Laid low their towers and houses frail.
• 4.035 into a tower of blue glowing smoke,
• 7.036 and towering tall above Gandalf.
• 7.151 overlooked by his dark tower!
• 11.001 towering grim
• 11.006 the grey ruins of ancient houses, towers, and walls.
• 19.011 “And bright are the windows of Night in her tower.”


We have included the adjective, the adverb, the verb relevant to cattle noises and “lower”, the verb relevant to Kili being lowered down and hauled up to give the news.

• 1.027 and ‘Dwalin at your service!’ he said with a low bow.
• 1.080 Laid low their towers and houses frail.
• 1.105 That marks a hidden passage to the Lower Halls.’
• 1.124 often enough sinking as low as blacksmith-work or even coalmining.
• 3.012 The air grew warmer as they got lower,
• 4.012 you found a low arch
• 5.035 “But in low place
Not in high place.'”
• 5.122 At last he stopped by a low opening,
• 5.129 on the low arch of the passage.
• 5.133 The passage was low
• 5.133 A bit low for goblins,
• 5.133 go along at a great speed stooping low with their hands almost on the ground.
• 6.004 and low trees.
• 6.012 out of the lower door,
• 6.03 as the goblins called the lower gate,
• 6.041 and swung themselves into lower branches,
• 6.045 and over the black tops of those growing lower down
• 6.052 hunting for those that had branches fairly low,
• 6.056 for Dori was lowest down
• 6.079 the lower branches cracked.
• 7.031 and a cluster of low wooden buildings,
• 7.031 and a long low wooden house.
• 7.051 and stood bowing low before them.
• 7.069 and bowed so low that their beards swept the stone floor.
• 7.079 the discovery of the lower gate,
• 7.092 in low brackets
• 7.093 These were very low,
• 7.093 low enough even for Bilbo to sit at comfortably.
• 7.093 and he probably had them low like the tables
• 7.093 and low enough even for Bilbo;
• 7.106 The fire burned low
• 8.003 in the lower branches on either side of them.
• 8.007 in fact already beginning to get low.
• 8.015 which is low just there where the path goes down into the water.’
• 8.041 but they hoisted him up into the lowest branches
• 9.018 A stream flowed under part of the lowest regions of the palace,
• 9.035 down into the lowest cellars they crept.
• 9.057 in the gloom seemed pretty low
• 10.030 at the lower end
• 11.013 and walled with lower spurs of the Mountain.
• 11.014 in the lower part,
• 11.017 to lower one of the more active dwarves,
• 11.019 They spoke low
• 11.032 The sun sank lower
• 11.032 and lower,
• 11.032 Then suddenly when their hope was lowest
• 12.013 but his fires were low
• 12.042 as he drew near the lower door.
• 12.072 I laid low the warriors of old
• 12.092 Why has not Smaug blocked the lower end,
• 14.002 was mostly screened by the low hills
• 14.008 in the low place
• 14.021 flying low,
• 14.023 The dragon swooped once more lower than ever,
• 15.028 they had contrived a small low arch under the new wall;
• 16.017 and climbed down towards the lower course of the stream,
• 17.046 flying lower,
• 17.048 in its lower slopes
• 18.023 about their lords upon a low rounded hill.
• 18.039 Then the dwarves bowed low before their Gate,
• 19.001 into the lower glades of the wood