This word has eight distinct meanings – strife, joy, penny, delightful, won (the adjective), to be victorious, to dwell, and to dry. Our meaning, to be victorious, is attested from 888. Y’all know me, I could spend the whole day investigating the other senses. When I have a day off, perhaps I will!

Oh, dear. It’s got a spin-off – witherwin. Let’s work double hard to win a day off!

• 1.082 To win our harps and gold from him!
• 1.094 and in this way the battle was won
• 1.096 The Took side had won.
• 5.094 And I won the game,
• 5.098 he had won the game,
• 12.095 about what would happen after the treasure had been won.
• 12.095 and I still think that when we have won it will be time enough
• 13.040 This treasure is not yet won back.
• 17.044 for they resolved now to win the dominion of the North.
• 17.061 before the goblins win the Gate,
• 18.035 in its winning
• 19.003 Than gold won by mining,


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.”