Tolkien Gateway


Revision as of 16:25, 10 July 2012 by KingAragorn (Talk | contribs)
Were-worm by Angus McBride
"Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert."
Bilbo Baggins, from The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"

Were-worms were creatures of an unknown kind, possibly mythical and presumably related to Dragons, that were said to dwell in the Last Desert.[1]

The Were-worms were only mentioned once, in the quote given above, so almost nothing is known about them. It is not even certain that they actually existed — the Hobbits had a rich folklore full of fantastic creatures, and Were-worms quite possibly fall into that category.


The element "were-" is a Germanic term that refers to humans. It suggests a shapeshifting creature like the werewolf of modern-day folktales. In Middle-earth, "Werewolves", such as Draugluin, did not shapechange and the name perhaps refers to the size and intelligence.

Thus Were-worms, if they did exist, could be a man-like type of Dragon, though this must remain in the realm of speculation.

Other Versions of the Legendarium

In the earliest fragment of The Hobbit, Bilbo offered to walk to the "Great Desert of Gobi and fight the Wild Wire worms of the Chinese".[2] In a slightly later version J.R.R. Tolkien made this "the last desert in the East and fight the Wild Wireworms of the Chinese".[3]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Pryftan Fragment", p. 9
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Bladorthin Typescript", p. 40
Legendary Races of Arda
 Animals:  Dumbledors · Gorcrows · Hummerhorns · Pards · Swans of Gorbelgod · Turtle-fish
Dragon-kind:  Great glow-worms · Sea-serpents · Spark-dragons · Were-worms
Evil Races:  Giants · Gongs · Half-trolls · Hobgoblins · Ogres · Snow-trolls · Two-headed Trolls
Fairies:  Dryads · Mermaids · Sprites · Sylphs · White cow
Other:  Badger-folk · Great beasts · Lintips · Mewlips · Nameless Things · Spectres
Individuals:  The Hunter · Lonely Troll · Man in the Moon · The Rider · River-woman · Tarlang · Tim