Hotfoot and Lightfooted

Chapter 14 contains the lovely words “hotfoot” and “lightfooted”, their only appearance in the entire book.  I was struck by this and imagine that it is not coincidence, but rather that these sections were written close to one another temporally and Tolkien was taken with a particular kind of word or sound or set of memories which evoked the words together.

“Hotfoot” is used of Bard the Bowman and by the OED means “hastily”.

[14.009] There was once more a tremendous excitement and enthusiasm.  But the grim-voiced fellow ran hotfoot to the Master.  ‘The dragon is coming or I am a fool!’ he cried. ‘Cut the bridges!  To arms!  To arms!’

“Lightfoot” in comparison means “lightly, as of little weight”

[14.042] But the king, when he received the prayers of Bard, had pity, for he was the lord of a good and kindly people; so turning his march, which had at first been direct towards the Mountain, he hastened now down the river to the Long Lake.  He had not boats or rafts enough for his host, and they were forced to go the slower way by foot; but great store of goods he sent ahead by water. Still elves are lightfooted, and though they were not in these days much used to the marches and the treacherous lands between the Forest and the Lake, their going was swift.

“hotfoot, adv. and adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2015. Web. 18 February 2016.

“light-footed, adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2015. Web. 18 February 2016.

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