Quendi & Eldar

Do you know those awkward moments when you made an inappropriate remark about someone’s cultural/ethnic/race without even realizing it? It may range from a simple “calling-someone-chinese-when-one’s-actually-japanese” to using the n-word (and you know you shouldn’t but it just pop out).

Well, let’s have a simple etiquette class here so we don’t commit those embarrassing mistakes with elves! They are not all the same people. Just because you saw someone with a bow and pointy ears(?), don’t point the finger calling names without giving some thought to what you say!  That’s rude!

Taken from p.372-5 of The History of Middle-Earth Vol. XI The War of the Jewels, here’s what you need to know:


Quendi = Elves of any kind, including the Avari (the ones who refused to take part on the Great March from Cuiviénen to Valinor. Singular less frequently used =  Quendë. This term became popular and useful when the elves met other races such as Men, Dwarves, Orcs, etc. It simply distinguished neutrally between Elvish people and non-Elvish people. Not used at all in Valinor where they called themselves Eldar and not Quendi.

Calaquendi = Elves who desired the light of Aman and took part on the Great March reaching its final destination. It was coined before the Separation and evidently by the party favorable to Oromë. In Valinor, it was used strictly to the Elves who actually lived or had lived in Aman (not only desiring it). In Beleriand, Calaquendi went out of use because it was offensive to the Sindar, still the Noldor used the word in books of lore.

Moriquendi = Elves who did not desire the light of Aman and wished a place with darkness and night (possibly to contemplate better the beauty of the stars). From the beginning the term had a tinge of scorn, implying they were inferior and more prone to follow Melkor and his Darkness. In Valinor, its meaning was simply the opposite of Calaquendi, namely elves who hadn’t lived in Aman. In Beleriand, Moriquendi was applied to all Elves except the Noldor and Sindar, basically the Avari.

Eldar = It literally means ‘Star-folk’ and in the beginning it encompassed all Elves. It had a close relation to Quendi, but later it did not include the Avari at all.

To be continued with Telerin and Sindarin terms and uses…



Filed under Elvish, Inside Middle-Earth, Pointy Ears, Quenya

11 responses to “Quendi & Eldar

  1. So, what makes the distinction between the Sindar, the Laiquendi, etc., and the Avari? For what I understood, neither of those groups went on to Valinor; that’s what separated the Sindar from the Eldar. I think I’m missing some step here…

    • It’s the historical step. Avari are Elves that refused to march from Cuiviénen. Let’s say…they didn’t even move their asses. They said no, we won’t go and period. Sindar and Laiquendi are latter distinctions for elves that migrated to another regions of Beleriand.

      Did you read the Silmarillion? There you can understand better about this early story of the elves and their family divisions.

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  5. 🙂 Thanks! That makes it all much clearer!

  6. Lol!… see I forgot ‘i’ on ‘Quendi’.

  7. Interesting! So, one can use both ‘Quend’ or ‘Eldar’ when referring to Elves in general?

    • Kind of….

      They are translated as synonyms but the cultural implications when you use one term or the other are different. Quendi emphazises the biological fact that they can talk, speak, utter words. Eldar brings to the table the class distinction made between those who went to Valinor and those who refused to go.

      An Elda is a Quendë (he or she can speak)
      A Quendë may not be an Elda (if he didn’t see the light of the Trees in Valinor, he’s an Avar, not an Elda)

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