Creepsy

Tolkien added a -y to “creep” in parallel construction to “tricksy”.  The “-y” suffix indicates “characterized or full of” and in Old English was spelled “ig”.  “Creepsy” is Tolkien’s own original word constructed from his deep understanding of the roots of our language.  I’m giving it the onomatopoeia tag for adding an ‘s’ to Gollum’s words where there was none.

  • 05.117 and he’ll come creepsy

“-y, suffix1.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2015. Web. 14 July 2015.

Bitsy

“Bitsy” is an adjective all by itself in the OED. The “-y” suffix indicates “characterized or full of” and in Old English was spelled “ig”. Tolkien uses it uniquely adverbially, replacing “for a bit”, constructed from his deep understanding of the roots of our language. I’m giving it the onomatopoeia tag for adding an ‘s’ to Gollum’s words where there was none.

  • 05.022 and chats with it a bitsy

“-y, suffix1.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2015. Web. 14 July 2015.

“bitsy, adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2015. Web. 14 July 2015.

Bewuther

This beautiful word is a Tolkien back-formation from a rare spelling of the obsolete verb “whither”: to make a blustering sound or rage about in the manner of the wind.  “Be-whither” – surround with confusing sounds and rush of energy – becomes “bewuthered”.  Magnificent!  Thanks to Alert Reader Grace who pointed out “Wuthering Heights” to the good of this entry!

“Bewuther” comes just as Gandalf raps on Bilbo’s door in Chapter 1 to introduce the last dwarves and incidentally obscure the mark he had made previously on that door.

[01.048] Bilbo rushed along the passage, very angry, and altogether bewildered and bewuthered – this was the most awkward Wednesday he ever remembered.

Not only are we just getting to know our prosaic little protagonist, but he’s having an awkward Wednesday.  We’re thoroughly in the Children’s Story mode where things are more funny than scary.  Tolkien plays with the sounds of the words because he’s telling the story out loud.  He has invented a word which we absolutely understand as much because of its form as its context.  “Be-” suggests that the feeling of bewutherment is an intense one.  The W sound alliterates with “bewildered”, allowing us to assume that “wuthering” has as much to do with being lost as “wildering”.

  • 01.048 and bewuthered –

“ˈwhither, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 9 May 2015.

Bebother

Our Mr. Baggins, dignified even in his indignance, uses one of the most magnificent words of the book right up front in Chapter 1.

  • 01.059 Confusticate and bebother these dwarves!’

“Bother” we all understand as “annoy” in our present use of English.  It also has an obscure meaning.

To bewilder with noise; to confuse, muddle; to put into a fluster or flutter.

The dwarves have definitely annoyed Bilbo, in exactly this obscure specific way, with which I am certain Tolkien was familiar.  To this word he has added be-.  “May the dwarves become bothered.  May bothering surround them.”  “Bebother” as a verb has no entry in the OED, but the adjective “bebothered” is attested there for the mid-1800s.  Tolkien invented this word – back-forming it from “bebothered” – deducing a word that must have existed but for which no evidence is found.  Creative deduction like this of what are often called “asterisk words” is the chief tool of the philologist

As a Chapter 1 word, “bebother” goes far to setting tone and illustrating some of Bilbo’s character.  I imagine him stamping his hairy foot, eyes squinted and head shaking.  At about four feet tall and moving toward being “on his dignity”, he seems to be in a dudgeon which cannot really be … high.  I am listing “bebother” as a funny word both for the image and for sound of it, a little startle of humour when we  hear something as unexpected as Wednesday afternoon parties.

“bother, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 7 May 2015.