The word "hobbit"

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Bones McCoy

Senior Member
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JRR Tolkien did not invent the word "hobbit". In fact the word "hobbit" existed in several contexts long before Professor Tolkien was born.





"Hobbit" as a surname:

The history of the Hobbit name began with the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from the baptismal name Hubert.


John Hobbit - Historical records and family trees - MyHeritage

Jasper Hobbit: Person, pictures and information - Fold3.com






"Hobbit" as a unit of measure:


The hobbit (also hobbett, hobbet, or hobed, from Welsh: hobaid) is a unit of volume or weight formerly used in Wales for trade in grain and other staples. It was equal to four pecks or two and a half bushels, but was also often used as a unit of weight, which varied depending on the material being measured. The hobbit remained in customary use in markets in northern Wales after Parliament standardized the Winchester bushel as the unit of measure for grain, after which courts gave inconsistent rulings as to its legal status.






"Hobbit" as a type of magical creature as mentioned in The Denham Tracts:

The Denham Tracts constitute a publication of a series of pamphlets and jottings on folklore, fifty-four in all, collected between 1846 and 1859 by Michael Aislabie Denham, a Yorkshire tradesman. Most of the original tracts were published with fifty copies (although some of them with twenty-five or even thirteen copies). The tracts were later re-edited by James Hardy for the Folklore Society and imprinted in two volumes in 1892[1] and 1895. It is possible that J.R.R. Tolkien took the word hobbit from the list of fairies in the Denham Tracts.


The only source known today that makes reference to hobbits in any sort of historical context is the Denham Tracts by Michael Aislabie Denham. More specifically, it appears in the Denham Tracts, edited by James Hardy, (London: Folklore Society, 1895), vol. 2, the second part of a two-volume set compiled from Denham's publications between 1846 and 1859. The text contains a long list of sprites and bogies, based on an older list, the Discovery of Witchcraft, dated 1584, with many additions and a few repetitions. The term hobbit is listed in the context of "boggleboes, bogies, redmen, portunes, grants, hobbits, hobgoblins, brown-men, cowies, dunnies".

 

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