In The Hobbit, Bilbo called the spiders Attercop, Lazy Lob, Crazy Cob, and Old Tomnoddy. What do the words mean?

Notes in the Annotated Hobbit identify Attercop, Lob, and Cob as being taken from similar words in Old and Middle English for "spider" (indeed, the word for "spider" in modern Norwegian is "edderkopp"). The Oxford English Dictionary definition of Tomnoddy is given as "a foolish or stupid person." (Annotated Hobbit, 170-171) As is well known, Tolkien used "Lob" again later. During the writing of Book IV he wrote to Christopher:
"Do you think Shelob is a good name for a monstrous spider creature? It is of course only 'she + lob' ( = 'spider' ), but written as one, it seems to be quite noisome... [Letters, 81 (#70)]
Hobbit, Ch VIII;
Annotated Hobbit, 170-171 (Ch VIII, notes 8,9,10);
Letters, 81 (#70).

Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams, Simen Gaure

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Last modified: Tue Aug 22 12:25:12 1995