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Mathom sounds like something out of The Meaning Of Liff, but it’s not. Apparently it’s a word from Tolkien meaning something you have no immediate use for, but which you want to keep just in case. In the stories, the Hobbits sometimes had entire extra houses dedicated to mathoms.

This sounds just like my mother. There’s lots of stuff at her house, but even more at Peter’s block at Ferntree Gully, where Peter built a big shed just to store stuff they don’t yet want to throw out.

I think they might be closet hobbits.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

3 replies on “Mathom”

Yes – when I was in the Fellowship of Middle Earth at Monash University we’d have an “exchange of mathoms” at some of our gatherings.

They defined a mathom as “something which has no real function but which is too nice to throw away.”

A not of knick-knacks could fall into that category.


yes, I thought it was something like that, but it was something you would never throw away, but would pass on as a gift.

Seem to remember in “the hobbit” they said there were some mathoms that had been passed sround people for tears.

To extend the usage, I sometimes feel like my life is full of activities that are mathoms – I still participate in them but no longer actually either need to or enjoy them. This leads to periodic pruning back of commitments that are mathomish (a lot like spring cleaning).

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