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Hasufel

Meaning: Grey-coat; rendered as gray coat by Noel; lit. trans. dusky or dark - hide or skin *see note

Location(s): Rohan

Race/Species: Beasts & Monsters

Dates: end of III

Description:
A great dark-grey horse was brought to Aragorn, and he mounted it. 'Hasufel is his name,' said Éomer. 'May he bear you well and to better fortune than Gárulf, his late master!'
TTT, Book III, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

Snowmane and Hasufel and the horses of my guard are in the inner court. When dawn comes, I will bid men sound Helm's horn, and I will ride forth. Will you ride with me then, son of Arathorn?...'
TTT, Book III, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

~*~
*Note on the meaning of the name:Originally a word search of Tolkien's writing had failed to turn up the meaning of Hasufel, so we had to rely on outside sources. Ruth Noel (whose book The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth has unfortunately drawn much criticism from other Tolkien linguists) renders Hasufel as "gray coat"; she translates hasu as 'gray', 'tawney', 'ash colored'.

A search of Bright's OE glossary turned up this information:

haso adj dark, dusky
ns haswa
haso-pâd (hasu-) adj having a gray coat (of an eagle)

And of -fel, for which Noel gave no information, Bright's states:
fell n fell, skin, hide
as fel
ap fell

To clear up any doubts, I posted a query to OE scholar and HASA member HF, asking:
...would you translate Hasufel as "dusky skin" or "dusky hide" (being literal) or is Noel correct in saying it means "gray/grey coat"?

Her response is as follows:
I think Noel's translation and Bright's definition of 'hasu' overlap. Bosworth-Toller provide both meanings: 'grey, ash-coloured, tawny.' It's found in compouds like 'hasupad' (see above) and 'hasufag' (having grey raiment), and on its own is often used to describe both the eagle--which is frequently described as 'dusky-feathered'--and the wolf, who is always grey-coated.

Thus, Noel *and* Bright are probably both correct. The OE definition of 'color' is problematic; from what I recall, color values aren't based on hue (e.g. redness, greeness, blueness), but on brightness--'hasu' seems to cover any color that is flat, matte-ish, and not bright. Noel's translation for 'fell', 'coat' just seems to be a bit more specific, referring to the color of Hasufel's hair, whereas the more general definition of Bright could cover both the skin and the hair attached to it. Hasufel is indeed dark grey (see quote from TTT: The Riders of Rohan), which might also suggest duskiness, in that his coat may be closer to black than white.

Addenda:In HoM-e VII: The Treason Of Isengard: Chapter XX: The Riders of Rohan, Christopher Tolkien noted:
The horses [i.e. those lent to Aragorn and Legolas by Éomer] were first given names in Modern English, that for Aragorn being 'Windmane' and that for Legolas 'Whitelock'; these were changed to the Old English names found in TT, Hasofel ('Grey-coat', cf. Hasupada, note 21) and Arod ('Swift')."

The cited note reads in part:
...At the foot of the page is
written the Old English word Hasupada ('Grey-coat'), and it
appears from a subsequent typescript text of the chapter that this refers to Gandalf ...

*Note: for more on the coat colors of the Rohirrim's horses, reference Rohirrim Grey

Contributors:
Lyllyn 23Jul03
note on the meaning of the name added by ~Nessime 12Apr04

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