Oh, friends.

This word goes away during the war, and rightly so. But it comes back. It comes back and, I believe significantly, it is one of three anchor concepts in the very last line.

‘Thank goodness!’ said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar.


Gratitude, laughter and hospitality. I’m going to repeat what I said when we were discussing food words. I believe that Tolkien expressed what he knew about the effects of combat through Bilbo’s experience — and that the end of that tale is hope.

• 1.004 and laugh deep fruity laughs
• 1.004 and laugh deep fruity laughs
• 1.023 and laughing long but quietly.
• 1.048 and laughing.
• 2.032 and laughed most.
• 3.018 So they laughed
• 3.018 they would only laugh all the more if you told them so.
• 3.018 and laugh at them,
• 4.017 and laughed
• 4.021 While Goblins quaff, and Goblins laugh,
• 4.023 They all laughed
• 6.024 What did I tell you?’ said Gandalf laughing.
• 6.031 he laughed.
• 6.032 All the others laughed too.
• 6.052 You would have laughed
• 6.071 and laughed.
• 7.035 He laughed a great rolling laugh,
• 7.035 He laughed a great rolling laugh,
• 7.069 and burst into a chuckling laugh:
• 7.121 and laughed:
• 7.122 and set them all laughing with his funny stories;
• 7.149 he laughed.
• 8.058 and laughing merrily.
• 8.090 The others laughed.
• 8.106 I am afraid Bilbo actually laughed
• 9.024 laughed the chief of the guards.
• 9.025 and laugh merrily.
• 9.026 and laughing to himself for a while
• 9.039 A number of elves came laughing
• 9.044 and still less at being laughed at.
• 9.051 and have been laughing at him;
• 10.018 and laughed at the greybeards and gammers who said
• 10.018 and laughing by a fire
• 12.066 Ha! Ha! You admit the ‘us” laughed Smaug.
• 12.067 and Smaug laughed aloud.
• 12.069 or were they laughing
• 12.071 Then Smaug really did laugh –
• 12.080 Never laugh at live dragons,
• 13.038 How they would laugh on the Hill at home!
• 13.058 Come, come!’ said Thorin laughing –
• 17.036 Fools!’ laughed Bard,
• 18.043 and he laughed
• 19.048 said Bilbo laughing,


Friends, I could read and read the history and etymology of “Work” in the OED for days. It’s intricate, rich, adventurous, and Very Early Old English. If you’re looking for delicious holiday break reading, I strongly suggest reading the entry for “work” in the OED. The participle “Wrought” is concordanced elsewhere as well, because in those halcyon days I thought I would get to the end of the uncommon words and be finished with the project. Ha!

• 1.075 They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
• 1.123 Indeed they hardly know a good bit of work from a bad,
• 2.049 warming to his new work as he lifted it carefully out,
• 3.033 or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing,
• 4.021 Work, work! Nor dare to shirk,
• 4.021 Work, work! Nor dare to shirk,
• 4.025 and slaves that have to work till they die
• 4.025 and also not working with their own hands more than they could help;
• 5.076 working
• 6.014 but everyone said it was a very clever bit of work.
• 6.028 and worked up the best magic he could
• 6.061 especially to get food or slaves to work for them.
• 7.023 They work for him
• 8.111 the other dwarves were working at the rest of the captives,
• 8.133 His people neither mined nor worked metals or jewels,
• 9.023 I shall be hard at work tonight
• 9.047 Get on with the work!’
• 11.014 and upright as masons’ work,
• 11.019 Mining work,
• 12.013 gold wrought
• 12.035 that is warrior’s work,
• 12.063 and your job is to do all the dangerous work
• 12.096 for it was wrought of pure silver
• 13.037 wrought for some young elf-prince long ago.
• 13.048 still showing the fragments of old carven work within,
• 14.036 There is work to do.
• 15.026 and at such work the dwarves were still very skilled.
• 15.027 As they worked
• 15.027 So while the others went on with their work,
• 18.033 wrought and unwrought,


Old, old word from the 800s, attested in a psalter, all kinds of Germanic.

• 2.045 beats me –
• 4.021 Batter and beat! Yammer and bleat!
• 4.034 “Slash them! Beat them! Bite them! Gnash them!
• 4.041 The goblins just called it Beater,
• 4.048 “Biter and Beater!” they shrieked;
• 5.055 And beats high mountain down.
• 6.072 and beat,
• 6.072 and beat
• 6.082 the dark rush of their beating wings smote them to the floor
• 8.075 He beat the creature off with his hands –
• 8.115 the spiders were beaten off,
• 11.015 They beat on it,
• 12.017 His heart was beating
• 12.029 beating his great wings
• 14.011 beneath the awful beating of his wings.
• 17.059 were being slowly beaten down.
• 19.020 as the rain beat into his face.


It’s a word of obscure origin — with an original meaning of flapping violently with wings — and a great parallel word “swip”, to hit.

• 4.005 and the wind whipped the rain
• 4.021 Swish, smack! Whip crack!
• 4.022 for now the goblins took out whips
• 4.022 and whipped them with a swish, smack!,
• 4.023 and nearest to the whips)
• 4.023 and cracked their whips behind.


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


The source of this word is thoroughly obscure. OED names and rejects about half a dozen suggested origins. The good news, however, is that the meaning of a “low-birth” man is obsolete, and the current use includes boys, young men, shepherds, any male being addressed endearingly, and — if they work with horses in the right stable — girls.

It’s also one of those “first half of the book” words. Hmm. Might be time to examine all the words that goblins say.

• 1.017 for so many quiet lads
• 1.123 a fine adventurous lad
• 4.019 You go, my lad!
• 4.020 Ho, ho! my lad!
• 4.021 Below, my lad!
• 4.022 and to the ugly laughter of their ho, ho! my lad!
• 8.022 my lads;


Friends, my tiny little inkling thought has just had (probably not significant) another data point of confirmation. The word “grab” is not used after chapter seven.

I know, I know. I hear what you’re saying. “Sparrow, you laid that ‘high versus low register’ idea to rest over six years ago.” But… but… it’s such a pretty idea. Like “eyebrows“. They don’t appear after Chapter Eight

• 2.050 and grabbed Bilbo by the neck,
• 2.113 Gandalf grabbed it
• 4.016 and they were all grabbed
• 4.016 and when goblins came to grab him,
• 4.019 Grip, grab! Pinch, nab!
• 4.051 was grabbed from behind
• 5.012 which he grabbed with his long fingers as quick as thinking.
• 5.018 otherwise he would have grabbed first
• 5.130 and grabbed as the hobbit flew over him,
• 6.010 if a goblin had suddenly grabbed your legs from behind
• 6.028 which killed the goblins that were grabbing him
• 7.067 and grabbed the hobbit
• 7.073 I was not grabbed.