Good morning, Word Fans! This common word starts to make no sense when I read it over and over.

• 1.002 wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes),
• 1.066 And when you’ve finished, if any are whole,
• 1.130 so on the whole I think I ought to be praised
• 2.042 not if the whole cavalcade had passed two feet off.
• 6.040 Before long the whole slope above them
• 6.058 In a minute there was a whole pack of them
• 7.116 he had eaten two whole loaves
• 7.122 and that a great raid of the whole goblin army
• 7.125 and Gandalf thought it wise to tell him their whole story
• 8.103 and at once the whole lot of them came hurrying
• 8.125 They had to have the whole vanishing business carefully explained,
• 12.009 and the whole lot could stay here for ever,
• 12.022 To hunt the whole mountain
• 12.035 with the whole hoard of Thror on my back?
• 12.079 Luckily the whole head
• 15.059 disapproved of the whole turn of affairs.
• 15.060 The whole place still stinks of dragon,’
• 16.026 Personally I am tired of the whole affair.
• 17.034 encircle the whole mountain;
• 17.060 he preferred on the whole to defend the Elvenking.


Another common word used sparingly. Let’s see. If there are about 95,000 words in the work and 6,000 individual words, then each word is used an average of 16 times… Yet “finish” is used less than half of that. Let’s not make too much of that, but let’s do notice.

• 1.023 just about the time when Bilbo was finishing his second cake
• 1.066 And when you’ve finished, if any are whole,
• 7.088 Now perhaps we can finish this story
• 7.089 By the time the wizard had finished his tale
• 9.038 running round putting the finishing touches to the packing,
• 10.004 in fact finishing his other business
• 15.011 No sooner had he finished speaking


Poles are apparently only for working on the river with a cargo or for thumping!

• 1.066 Pound them up with a thumping pole;
• 9.019 and poled or rowed up the stream;
• 9.062 They quickly poled
• 9.065 There was a mighty pushing of poles.
• 9.068 where other elves stood to fend them off with poles,

All of which brings to mind the finest reference to poles in all of literature:

‘Evenin’,’ it said. ‘Dis is a bit embarrassin’. You know a pole?’
‘Pole?’ said Igor suspiciously.
‘It are a long wooden fing-‘
‘Yeth? Well? What about it?’
‘I’d like you to imagine, right, dat dere’s a black an’ yellow striped one across dis road, right? Only ‘cos we’ve only got der one, an’ it’s bein’ used up on der Copperhead road tonight.’

Terry Pratchett – Carpe Jugulum


In The Hobbit, this word is only used as a verb – and, in fact, only as an imperative verb in rhyming verse!

• 1.066 Pound them up with a thumping pole;
• 4.020 Pound, pound, far underground!
• 4.020 Pound, pound, far underground!


We have found one of the words used only once in The Hobbit!

• 1.066 Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;

This calls for an OED moment, and we are not disappointed:

But the sense of the word has evidently received onomatopoeic modification, from its suggestiveness of a dull abruptly-checked blow or thud, and of the action producing this: compare thump

“dump, v.1.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2019, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/58418. Accessed 3 September 2019.

Yes, indeed, we can add this to the sound-play words! I might add that the noun meanings of “dump” include a kind of music that makes you feel down in the dumps.


A common word, used aplenty – and that’s very satsifying in a book full of liminal moments. Whether it is a coming-of-age story for Bilbo is not mine to say – I know that it is for me.

• 01.002 It had a perfectly round door
• 01.002 The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel:
• 01.002 and many little round doors opened out of it,
• 01.006 and Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast
• 01.010 ‘And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors,
• 01.010 Then Bilbo sat down on a seat by his door,
• 01.016 as if I was selling buttons at the door!’
• 01.021 and scuttled inside his round green door,
• 01.023 was still standing outside the door,
• 01.025 and ran to the door.
• 01.026 As soon as the door was opened,
• 01.030 and off he went to the door.
• 01.031 and he too hopped inside as soon as the door was open,
• 01.038 as soon as the door began to open –
• 01.044 ‘Someone at the door!’
• 01.046 and he had to run to the door.
• 01.047 but a hard rat-tat on the hobbit’s beautiful green door.
• 01.048 He pulled open the door with a jerk,
• 01.048 He had made quite a dent on the beautiful door;
• 01.049 and then open the door like a pop-gun!
• 01.056 called the other dwarves through the door.
• 01.059 and Dwalin at the door of the kitchen,
• 01.065 Splash the wine on every door!
• 01.095 and a drink he crept nervously to the door of the parlour.
• 01.095 if it had not been for the sign on the door,
• 01.097 I have no signs on my door –
• 01.098 And I assure you there is a mark on this door –
• 01.109 “Five feet high the door
• 01.110 ‘How could such a large door be kept secret from everybody outside,
• 01.111 I should guess there is a closed door
• 01.141 not to speak of getting inside the door?
• 02.002 and the front door was open,
• 02.021 who was standing at the inn door looking out for him.
• 02.111 a big door of stone leading to a cave.
• 02.113 Then the stone door swung back
• 03.030 and found its doors flung wide.
• 03.040 beside the plain runes which say ‘five feet high the door
• 04.003 They had thought of coming to the secret door
• 04.013 Oin and Gloin wanted to light a fire at the door
• 05.135 where a great door,
• 05.135 a stone door,
• 05.136 with drawn swords sitting just inside the door,
• 05.142 ‘Look out for the door,’
• 05.145 ‘I must get to the door,
• 05.145 I must get to the door!’
• 05.145 got up, and ran for the door.
• 05.146 His buttons had got wedged on the edge of the door
• 05.146 and shone bright on the outside of the door –
• 05.147 ‘There is a shadow by the door.
• 05.149 and cursing to guard the door.
• 06.012 out of the lower door,
• 06.022 in the door,
• 07.044 said the man leading the way through a dark door
• 07.045 and came through another smaller door into a sort of veranda
• 07.097 The great door had creaked
• 07.107 and a noise as of some great animal scuffling at the door.
• 08.132 Before his huge doors of stone
• 08.144 in one of the inmost caves with strong wooden doors,
• 09.003 to the king’s doors.
• 09.006 ‘There is no escape from my magic doors
• 09.010 but not to be allowed to pass the doors of their little prisons,
• 09.011 in the doors,
• 09.014 and he came to the door
• 09.027 First he unlocked Balin’s door,
• 09.029 Then off he went from door to door,
• 09.029 Then off he went from door to door,
• 09.035 They passed a door through which the chief guard
• 09.036 to pass through all those locked doors
• 09.037 through the doors
• 09.054 was being rolled to the doors!
• 09.061 in haste from the king’s great doors.
• 10.018 in through the door.
• 10.028 They passed its doors
• 10.029 in a loud voice from the door,
• 10.034 from the doors of the hall
• 11.006 the western spurs of the Mountain for the hidden door,
• 11.013 on the western slopes for the secret door.
• 11.013 must stand the secret door.
• 11.014 yet they did not doubt that they had found the door at last.
• 11.019 The others who were busy with the secret of the door
• 11.019 the door was hidden.
• 11.019 that had shut this door;
• 11.038 A door five feet high
• 12.001 before the door
• 12.007 when the hobbit crept through the enchanted door
• 12.008 the faint outline of the door,
• 12.010 till all sign of the door behind had faded away.
• 12.012 as the door above.
• 12.019 The door behind them was pulled nearly to,
• 12.021 he sped from his deep lair through its great door,
• 12.023 ‘The door! The tunnel!
• 12.029 His hot breath shrivelled the grass before the door,
• 12.031 until dawn came pale through the crack of the door.
• 12.032 but the door withstood his searching eye,
• 12.042 The light from the door,
• 12.042 as he drew near the lower door.
• 12.093 and shut the door.’
• 12.094 though they delayed shutting the door –
• 12.094 not far down from the half-open door
• 12.098 He sat nearest to the door
• 12.099 ‘Shut the door!’
• 12.099 Shut the door before it is too late!’
• 12.100 and getting up he kicked away the stone that wedged the door.
• 12.101 What would have happened if the door had still been open
• 13.002 ‘Let us try the door!’
• 13.002 and groped back to where the door had been.
• 13.002 would ever open that door again.
• 13.017 Quickly Bilbo trotted to the door
• 13.017 So they sat near the door
• 13.023 until he came to the great doors at the further side,
• 13.041 they passed through the gaping doors,
• 13.044 Before them light came dimly through great doors,
• 13.046 As they came through yet more doors
• 13.050 ‘I never expected to be looking out of this door.
• 13.057 since the dragon smashed the magic door,
• 13.066 in which there was an opening like a door.
• 13.066 From that door there was a wide view East
• 13.067 and that door behind leads
• 13.071 but the others sat near the outer door
• 14.001 when he smashed the door
• 15.026 the small secret door)
• 15.050 While an armed host lies before our doors,
• 16.042 rose from a tent door where he was sitting
• 18.051 to the doors of Beorn’s house;
• 19.034 and came right back to Bilbo’s own door.
• 19.035 were thick round the door,
• 19.041 when there was a ring at the door.


A fascinating little non-robust instance in Chapter 12 of Bilbo speaking of Smaug in terms that apply to Hobbits. I wonder if there are others!

• 1.002 bedrooms, bathrooms,
• 1.065 Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
• 1.143 in the best bedroom next to him:
• 12.093 to damage his bedroom