Old, old delicious word. Probably echoic, and if you’re old enough you’re allowed to pronounce the K.

• 1.047 a loud knock.
• 1.048 knocked out the secret mark that he had put there the morning before.
• 1.088 knocking over the poker
• 1.092 knocking over the table.
• 1.094 and knocked their king Golfimbul’s head
• 2.077 Who has been knocking my people about?”
• 3.044 when the thrush knocks,” read Elrond,
• 4.020 Hammer and tongs! Knocker and gongs!
• 4.048 knocking over those that were running after them.
• 5.145 was knocked over by a goblin who could not make out what he had bumped into,
• 9.050 knocking into one another,
• 10.012 Knocking outside
• 10.013 Bifur and Bofur were less knocked about
• 11.030 and was knocking it on the stone.
• 12.020 he had caught the dim echoes of a knocking sound
• 18.011 A nasty knock on the head,
• 18.040 don’t wait to knock!


Oh, my, look at the use of this one. Not just the “smooshing” function!

• 4.020 Clash, crash! Crush, smash!
• 4.022 and the crush, smash!
• 5.004 Still at the moment he felt very crushed.
• 5.091 Curse us and crush us,
• 5.125 and crush them!
• 7.120 The hobbit felt quite crushed,
• 18.024 and crushed him.
• 18.043 but now that the goblins were crushed,


This word — so similar to “clash” — extends past the middle of the book.

• 1.088 and shovel with a crash.
• 4.004 and great crashes split the air
• 4.020 Clash, crash! Crush, smash!
• 6.040 crashing down with a dust
• 6.041 and the last faint crashes could be heard
• 8.059 bumping crash into trees,
• 12.101 like the crash of battering-rams made of forest oaks
• 14.023 and crashed down from on high
• 17.055 fell outward with a crash into the pool.
• 17.066 and he fell with a crash


So, so many little details on this delicious word in the OED. It joined our language in the early 1500s and was deliberately invented to signify a sound which begins sharply, like a clap, but ends in multiple small sounds, like a waterfall.

• 4.004 and clash.
• 4.020 Clash, crash! Crush, smash!
• 4.033 and all his soldiers gnashed their teeth, clashed their shields,
• 5.143 armour clashed,
• 6.071 clashed the shafts against their shields.
• 9.011 as they clashed together when the last elf passed;
• 9.050 with many a clash


This sound-play word has a bursting, sudden feel to it, and I rather love that it’s in the song the goblins sang about the snapping shut of the black crack…

• 1.100 till Bilbo shut his mouth tight with a snap.
• 4.017 The crack closed with a snap,
• 4.019 Clap! Snap! the black crack!
• 4.022 The walls echoed to the clap, snap!
• 5.130 his hands snapped on thin air,
• 6.028 just as it snapped to.
• 6.058 A wolf snapped at his cloak as he swung up,
• 6.064 biting and snapping
• 8.022 looking at the snapped painter that was still dangling from it.
• 8.093 snapping its cords,
• 8.103 nippers and spinners snapping,
• 11.037 Snap!
• 12.074 he snapped.
• 12.100 and it closed with a snap
• 14.013 and snapped


It’s time to separate out this very lovely sound from similar ones in our text. Reduplicatives are very simply sounds which have been duplicated for sonorous effect. I call my dog “Sgiob-Sgiob” when I suddenly need two syllables to make a minor-third calling sound. We hear it a lot used with children learning to speak, as well.

The roll-roll-roll repetition here both suits the syllables to the beat of the work song and to mimic the sound of the action described thereby.

• 09.049 roll-roll-rolling down the hole!


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, 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.


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, Accessed 19 August 2019.


This very common word has joined the concordance in honor of its unusual use in the apple-barrel song of Chapter 9:

[09.049] Roll – roll – roll – roll,

roll-roll-rolling down the hole!

In the top line, the words “roll” are separated by spaces and hyphens, a repetitive phrase; but my goodness!  roll-roll-rolling has no spaces!  It is one word, and the OED assures us that the reduplicative is “a word form created by reduplication”.  I think that such a reduplicative even qualifies “roll-roll-rolling” as a vocable and sound play.

  • 01.066 Send them down the hall to roll!
  • 01.066 Send them down the hall to roll!
  • 02.070  and rolling nearly into the fire
  • 04.004  and go rolling
  • 04.036  and rolling
  • 04.043  – for dwarves can roll along at a tremendous pace,
  • 04.051  and the hobbit rolled off his shoulders into the blackness,
  • 06.040  rolled away from their feet;
  • 06.040  and rolling;
  • 06.065  and unless they rolled over quick they were soon all
  • 06.065  Very soon all about the glade wolves were rolling over
  • 07.035  He laughed a great rolling laugh,
  • 07.093  in rolling round drum-shaped sections of logs,
  • 07.094  Beorn in his deep rolling voice told tales
  • 07.099 and like a tide it roared and rolled;
  • 07.108  and had rolled down with a bump from the platform on to the floor.
  • 08.104  and rolled off the branch dead.
  • 08.108  that he just rolled off the branch
  • 09.048  they answered rolling the barrels to the opening.
  • 09.049  Roll – roll – roll – roll,
  • 09.049 roll-roll-rolling down the hole!
  • 09.054  was being rolled to the doors!
  • 09.055  the barrel rolled round
  • 09.059  roll off again
  • 09.060  a round-bellied pony that was always thinking of rolling on the grass.
  • 10.034  and it rolled loud
  • 12.076  The dragon rolled over.
  • 13.008  and rolled headlong into the hall!
  • 14.033  in the roll of the benefactors of our town;
  • 16.047  in turn rolled himself up
  • 17.040  Winter thunder on a wild wind rolled roaring up
  • 17.046  rolling away to the South-East;


“reduplicative, n. and adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2017. Web. 5 September 2017.