I wonder, friends, if you’re seeing what I’m seeing? A change in word usage during the war chapters?

Now, I’ve not yet finished trying to figure out what’s going on in Mirkwood. Got distracted by poetry, sorry. But perhaps after Mirkwood, we will go after the war chapters…

• 1.002 and floors tiled
• 1.002 all were on the same floor,
• 1.065 Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
• 1.092 Then he fell flat on the floor,
• 2.113 There were bones on the floor
• 4.013 It had a dry floor
• 4.013 So they spread out their wet things on the floor,
• 4.014 Then he dreamed that the floor of the cave was giving way,
• 4.036 in heaps on the floor,
• 5.001 and he could feel nothing except the stone of the floor.
• 5.002 what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel.
• 5.002 but sat down on the cold floor
• 5.073 and slapped his feet on the floor,
• 5.106 in the floor,
• 5.127 with his flat hands splayed on the floor,
• 5.133 in the floor.
• 6.045 over a floor of pine-needles;
• 6.082 the dark rush of their beating wings smote them to the floor
• 6.085 a red twinkle on the black floor;
• 7.010 (a wholesome one with a pebbly floor)
• 7.069 and bowed so low that their beards swept the stone floor.
• 7.071 and sat flop on the floor looking rather surprised.
• 7.097 The dwarves were sitting cross-legged on the floor round the fire,
• 7.106 a splash of white on the floor came from the high moon,
• 7.108 and had rolled down with a bump from the platform on to the floor.
• 8.046 on the forest floor.
• 8.112 on the floor,
• 9.037 in the middle of the floor waiting to be pushed off.
• 12.012 but rising from the near side of the rocky floor
• 12.013 stretching away across the unseen floors,
• 12.016 across the floor to the nearest edge of the mounds of treasure.
• 12.044 He was just about to step out on to the floor
• 12.071 a devastating sound which shook Bilbo to the floor,
• 12.072 from floor to ceiling like scarlet lightning.
• 13.009 There he lay face downwards on the floor
• 13.016 when Bilbo actually began to stamp on the floor,
• 13.018 start across the floor holding his tiny light aloft.
• 13.022 Bilbo was crossing the floor of the hall.
• 13.039 and sat down on the floor;
• 13.046 and bones were upon the floor
• 14.043 twisted upon the floor of the shallows.
• 18.016 and notched axe were cast upon the floor.


For those of you just tuning in, we are now working our way through common words which appear in the poems and lyrics. At the moment, we are dwarves, singing about making a mess of Bilbo’s kitchen.

• 1.065 Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
• 2.029 it was pouring with rain,
• 2.038 Then the rain began to pour down worse than ever,
• 10.006 the doubled waters poured out again
• 17.048 and poured now

That last is a reference to goblins:

17.048 …As Gandalf had hoped, the goblin army had gathered behind the resisted vanguard, and poured now in rage into the valley, driving wildly up between the arms of the Mountain, seeking for the foe. Their banners were countless, black and red, and they came on like a tide in fury and disorder.


My goodness! A barely-used word – we’re approaching those words which are only used once! For a book about a long journey afoot, I am caught off guard!

• 1.065 Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
• 11.018 and tread on my beard,


I ran into one of those interesting editor choices this morning. Is “clothe” to be included with “cloth”? I did, and I’m glad of it, and while there’s no robustness to this small sample, nevertheless I see that cloth and clothing trace the fortunes of the company for many chapters.

• 1.002 wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes),
• 1.065 Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
• 1.070 in a green cloth.
• 2.029 into the dry clothes
• 2.037 and wet clothes all the night.
• 2.080 with his clothes
• 2.113 There were lots of clothes, too,
• 3.034 Their clothes were mended as well as their bruises,
• 4.013 to dry their clothes,
• 6.022 he said sadly looking at his torn clothes.
• 7.014 Then they took off their clothes
• 7.034 He was clothed
• 7.093 One bore a white cloth embroidered at the edges
• 9.062 and ragged clothes clinging to him cold
• 10.020 in spite of his torn clothes
• 10.038 in fine cloth of their proper colours,


A nice, even common word!

• 1.065 Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
• 2.065 me throat cut
• 4.041 It made no trouble whatever of cutting through the goblin-chains
• 6.034 quite a short cut.
• 6.062 cutting down trees,
• 6.063 or cut them down.
• 6.099 or cutting up meat,
• 7.131 and scour all the edge of the forest so as to cut you off,
• 8.075 and he had time to cut his legs loose.
• 8.105 If he cut the string which hung him up,
• 8.106 He managed by leaning over to cut
• 8.107 he had to cut most of it off.
• 8.111 and cutting at the threads with their knives.
• 9.018 the roof had been cut away
• 10.010 First of all a barrel was cut loose by Bilbo
• 13.019 cut
• 13.043 cut out of the living rock broad
• 14.009 Cut the bridges!


For a common words, it’s used sparingly, so we can’t say anything robust about its absence from some of the Chapters – but it is in Gollum’s chapter and not Smaug’s?? Fascinating.

• 1.064 Smash the bottles and burn the corks!
• 2.080 (and two with burns
• 3.013 They were burning bright
• 3.040 and the burned banks of the bright River Running.
• 4.036 The sparks were burning holes
• 4.041 It burned with a rage that made it gleam
• 5.101 the light of his eyes burned with a pale flame.
• 6.065 and burned into them,
• 6.065 while those that were burning were running about howling
• 6.077 Burn, burn tree and fern!
• 6.077 Burn, burn tree and fern!
• 6.083 and the burning,
• 6.085 Soon the light of the burning was faint below,
• 7.045 Though it was summer there was a wood-fire burning
• 7.106 The fire burned low
• 7.122 From the burnt wolf-glade
• 7.122 and also because of the burning
• 8.048 and fires burning on the ground;
• 8.054 and fires were burning under the trees,
• 10.035 The lakes shall shine and burn,
• 13.044 and half burnt.
• 14.013 and their shafts fell back kindled by his breath burning
• 14.016 and burned down to the surface of the lake.
• 14.018 that held their ground among the burning houses.
• 17.038 burned
• 18.001 but his head burned with fire.
• 19.004 The stars are all burning!

My luck would run ill, I fear, if I left out a few words: “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!” 


The OED tells us that it’s probably an imitative word, so hooray! We are adding a common sound-play word to our beautiful word-hoard!

• 1.064 Smash the bottles and burn the corks!
• 4.005 where they smashed among the trees far below,
• 4.020 Clash, crash! Crush, smash!
• 4.022 and the crush, smash!
• 12.091 and if we are smashed with it the better he will like it.’
• 12.101 smashing wall
• 13.002 I think I would rather be smashed by Smaug
• 13.057 since the dragon smashed the magic door,
• 14.001 when he smashed the door
• 14.015 and smashed down.
• 15.003 when Smaug smashed the mountain-side,

“smash, v.1.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2019, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/182472. Accessed 19 August 2019.