In Lord of the rings, Smeagol most of the time repeated the word "Gollum". He said it twice:

Gollum! Gollum!

If I am right, it is the name of Smeagol's split personality, but what is the meaning of the word "Gollum"? Does it have some backstory just like "Hodor" from Game of Thrones?


5 Answers 5


As explained on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange:

The name "Gollum" goes back a long way, back to shortly after he found the Ring. See "The Shadow of the Past", the second chapter of the first book in The Fellowship of the Ring:

They kicked him, and he bit their feet. He took to thieving, and going about muttering to himself, and gurgling in his throat. So they called him Gollum, and cursed him, and told him to go far away; and his grandmother, desiring peace, expelled him from the family and turned him out of her hole.

The LOTR wiki explains:

The name Gollum was derived from the sound of his disgusting gurgling, choking cough.

This was also shown at the start of the third movie.


The Riddle of Gollum


Tolkien's sources for Gollum were most likely the same as his sources for ents-- his love of word origins (philology), literature (poetry and prose), and life (personal experience). Gollum's precursor in Tolkien's writings was a creature named Glip, from a poem written around 1928. Gollum got his name from the sound he made when he spoke, "the horrible swallowing sound in his throat." The hypothesis of Douglas Anderson, who annotated The Annotated Hobbit, is that Tolkien got the name Gollum from gull or goll, the Old Norse word for gold. One inflected form would be gollum (gold, treasure, something precious). Another hypothesis is that Tolkien got the name Gollum from the Jewish Golem. The word golem occurs once in the Bible (Psalm 139:16) and is the origin of the Golem in Jewish folklore. Gustav Meyrink's classic fantastic fiction masterpiece, The Golem, had been published in English in 1928. The Gospel entered the story when Tolkien revised The Hobbit in 1951; Gollum becomes a fallen hobbit in need of pity and mercy.

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    Adding to the potential biblical reference and the image of a "fallen hobbit in need of pity and mercy", "golem" in Hebrew (used Psalm 139:16) means "unshaped form" or "embryo" - judaism.wikia.com/wiki/Golem
    – andrewb
    Sep 22, 2016 at 4:00

Gollum is an onomatopoeia, Smeagol lived for a long time in cold, dark and damp conditions under the Misty Mountains, and the power of the One ring has weakened his body like drugs do an addict. He has a terrible cough and sounds like he is trying to bring up catarrh all the while.

  • I don't think this is true. I don't have a copy of the film or book right here - and I don't think the film expands on it - but a phrase about how his home community "took to calling him Gollum" comes to mind. So he was called Gollum before he left his home.
    – SusanW
    Sep 22, 2016 at 7:45
  • Oh look, @BCdotWEB has the quote in their answer movies.stackexchange.com/a/60964/41320
    – SusanW
    Sep 22, 2016 at 7:48

Gollum is originated from the Hebrew word Golem. Golem is pronounced GO-lum (emphasys on the GO (like in the movie)). (I used to pronounce it go-LUM (emphasys on the LUM).)

Golem- a creature of Jewish medieval folklore, a golem is the figure made into the form of a human and given life; the creature is then slave to its master's commands.

This is taken from page 48-9 of The Jewish People's Dictionary of Jewish Words by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic

I can interpret this to mean that Gollum is a creature sort of like that except he is slave to the Ring. I guess the Ring sort of created him because before the Ring he was Smeagol before he knew about the Ring, and then he murdered Deagol and the Ring became his but in truth the he was the Ring's.

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    Do you have any proof this is the case? Just because they are similar doesn't mean there is an intentional connection.
    – Catija
    Sep 22, 2016 at 12:49

"Gollum" is an Onomatopoeia. A word from a sound associated with what is named (Boom, Crack, BANG). When Gollum or Smeagol repeat this line, it's an expression of his degradated form losing what's left of his perceptions of his mind and body. A gurgling, swallowing sound.

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