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Contributor Contrib.Kai on 7/17/2007
Literally meant "bear" (cognate of BJÖRN) and also, later, "nobleman" in Old English; in Anglo-Saxon society, beorn "bear" came to mean "man" and "warrior" with implications of "freeman" and "nobleman" (the word baron is related to beorn). This name was invented by J. R. R. Tolkien who used Old English to represent the Rohirric language. In his novel 'The Hobbit' (1937) Beorn is a shape-shifting woodsman who sometimes takes the form of a great black bear. He receives Gandalf, Bilbo and the thirteen Dwarves in his wooden house between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood, and aids them in their quest to reclaim the Dwarves' kingdom.