I've read that Mithrandir is one of Gandalf's aliases. Why do certain people call him by this name and not Gandalf? I've noticed in particular that Galadriel uses the name Mithrandir quite often.

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    To quote the book: Many are my names in many countries. Mithrandir among the Elves, Tharkûn to the Dwarves; Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Incánus, in the North Gandalf; to the East I go not.
    – Oliver_C
    Dec 15, 2012 at 9:40
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    @Oliver_C This could have been THE answer. Dec 22, 2012 at 10:08
  • Mithrandir is the Elven name for Gandalf
    – user7810
    Jan 28, 2014 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


Gandalf is one of the Istari - practically immortal creatures put in middle earth to guide and help its inhabitants. He is therefore very long lived and has picked up a lot of different names or nick-names to different people at different times.

Mithrandir is a Sindarin phrase meaning Grey Pilgrim or Wanderer (ref: Tolkien Gateway). Sindarin is the everyday language of Elves and therefore the name that Galadriel uses for him.

Gandalf, or Gandalf the Grey, or Gandalf Greyhame are just some other names for him - I don't think we are told that any of them is distinctly his name. Gandalf appears to be the common name used by Dwarves and Hobbits for him at the time of The Hobbit, hence the name we think of him as having.

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    Tolkein did this a few times - Strider/Aragorn/Elessar. I think the idea is that they're wandering characters and different races have created their own names for them.
    – Liath
    Mar 21, 2013 at 10:58
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    His real name is Olorin, this was the name he was known by in Valinor. The istari are a group of wizards including gandalf, Saruman, Radagast and the blue wizards of the east. It was by the order of the Valar(who they serve) that the group known would be sent to middle earth. The above answer is correct in that they are immortal beings however they are actually knwon as Maiar, created by the Valar in the eyes and approval of Eru.
    – user4599
    Apr 15, 2013 at 23:06
  • "...hence the name we think of him as having" - I guess this means I'm a hobbit cuz I can't grow a beard for nothing. Jun 28, 2020 at 19:00

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