To our ears, the name Derndingle Warrior sounds foolish or even scatological, but we can’t blame Tolkien for inventing such nonsense. This word is Common Speech, taken from our own history, not the philology professor’s fantasy creations. ‘Dingle’ comes from a Middle English word of unknown origin meaning ‘a deep abyss’ but has been used to refer to ‘deep wooded valley or dell’ since the 17th century. ‘Dern’ is even older, an archaic Germanic particle now obsolete but meaning ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’.
When Treebeard tells Merry and Pippin that Men called their secret wooded meeting place ‘Derndingle’, he is suggesting that Gondor once knew or remembered more of the Ents than they do at the time of the War of the Ring. Of course, old Fangorn never would have guessed what ‘dingleberry’ has come to mean since, nor could have Tolkien, as our slang usage derives instead from the word ‘dangle’ and didn’t become popular until the 1980s.
Card Info: Escape from Mount Gram #31
Artist: Oscar Römer