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Lord of the Rings: what is Gandalf’s real name?

What is Gandalf's real name - Gandalf is the most famous of all Lord of the Rings characters, but what do we know about the mysterious Wizard's name

Lord of the Rings: What is Gandalf's real name - Ian McKellen as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings

What is Gandalf’s real name? Gandalf is one of the most powerful beings in all of Middle-earth, as we see many, many times in the Lord of the Rings movies. The character also appears to have got his introduction in the new fantasy series Rings of Power, after it was revealed that the Stranger was actually one of the five wizards in Middle-earth, and an Istar.

Gandalf is known to be quick to anger and fond of pipe-weed, but the Maiar also possesses a deep wisdom which he has used to advise the inhabitants of Middle-earth throughout the Third Age, including Galadriel and Elrond. He wields the sword Glamdring, which he found in the trolls’ cave during the events of the Hobbit, alongside his magic staff. He also carries one of the three Elven rings, Narya, which is the ring of fire.

There’s plenty more that we do know about Gandalf, such as his willingness to get involved in the affairs of even the smallest creatures in Middle-earth. But despite all this copious screen time, the origins and details of the Lord of the Rings character remain shrouded in mystery. Do we even know what is Gandalf’s real name?

What is Gandalf’s real name?

Gandalf is a character who has many names, usually depending on the race of who is referring to him. Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, and the Men of Middle-earth all have their own names for Gandalf. But, let’s take it from the top.

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Gandalf’s ‘real-name’ is Olórin. This was his name in Valinor, and is how he was first known. Among Elves, and some Men in Gondor, Gandalf is called Mithrandir which is his name in the Elven language Sindarin. Dwarves also have their own name for Gandalf, who they call Tharkûn. In the language of the Dwarves, this translates to something like ‘staff man’. In Rohan, King Théoden calls refers to Gandalf as Stormcrow which is meant as a demeaning name in reference to his unwanted presence, and meddling nature.

Of course, the name Gandalf is the one that’s used by the Hobbit and it’s also used by some Men who know him too. This name derives from the language of Men who lived in the North of Middle-earth, and translates to ‘Elf of the wand’. Whatever you want to call him, we can all agree that Gandalf is one of Middle-earth’s most impressive figures, pivotal in the War of the Ring and the destruction of Sauron, and even able to go toe-to-toe with a Balrog.

For more Middle-earth deep dives, check out our guide to Galadriel and Halbrand’s relationship explained, or the three rings created by Celebrimbor.