The names were taken directly from an ancient Norse poem.
In particular he derived many of his own mythological names (as well as ideas) from the the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson. It is an ancient Icelandic manuscript from the 13th century that centers on Norse mythology and features many dwarvish names. The names of Tolkien’s dwarves from The Hobbit are as follows: Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur and Thorin Oakenshield. Most of these names, along with the name of a certain wizard, can be found in the first poem from the Prose Edda, called the Völuspá.
10. There was Motsognir | the mightiest made
Of all the dwarfs, | and Durin next;
Many a likeness | of men they made,
The dwarfs in the earth, | as Durin said.
11. Nyi and Nithi, | Northri and Suthri,
Austri and Vestri, | Althjof, Dvalin,
Nar and Nain, | Niping, Dain,
Bifur, Bofur, | Bombur, Nori,
An and Onar, | Ai, Mjothvitnir.
12. Vigg and Gandalf | Vindalf, Thrain,
Thekk and Thorin, | Thror, Vit and Lit,
Nyr and Nyrath,– | now have I told–
Regin and Rathsvith– | the list aright.
13. Fili, Kili, | Fundin, Nali,
Hepti, Vili, | Hannar, Sviur,
(Billing, Bruni, | Bildr and Buri,)
Frar, Hornbori, | Fræg and Loni,
Aurvang, Jari, | Eikinskjaldi.
14. The race of the dwarfs | in Dvalin’s throng
Down to Lofar | the list must I tell;
The rocks they left, | and through wet lands
They sought a home | in the fields of sand.
15. There were Draupnir | and Dolgthrasir,
Hor, Haugspori, | Hlevang, Gloin,
Dori, Ori, | Duf, Andvari,
Skirfir, Virfir, | Skafith, Ai.
16. Alf and Yngvi, | Eikinskjaldi,
Fjalar and Frosti, | Finn and Ginnar;
So for all time | shall the tale be known,
The list of all | the forbears of Lofar.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?