The Proper Pronunciation of Drow

It is a debate that waged for years amongst Dungeons and Dragons players - What is the proper pronunciation of Drow?

The debate is about whether Drow, a race of dark elves, is pronounced "drow" like grow or is pronounced "drouw" like the word cow.

Well I am finally going to put this debate to rest.

Years ago I read a Dragon magazine article about Old English mythological monsters. One of them was the "dtrow", a dark elf creature that lives in caves and under bridges and attacks travellers and other surface dwellers, usually at night because it avoids sunlight. The "dtrow" is the basis for the Dungeons and Dragons dark elf race known as drow - but it is also the same root word for troll.

Dtrow is pronounced with a soft DT sound and pronounced like grow. Therefore the proper pronunciation of Drow is like the bow in crossbow, grow, mow the lawn, etc.

Anyone who is using the pronunciation "drouw" like cow, take a bow, ow that hurt, etc is saying it wrong due to ignorance of the word's origins.

Webster's Unabridged Dictionary (1970) states:

"Drow, n., [scot.]." The word is a variant of the Scots term "trow", which itself derives from the Scandinavian word "troll". The original Scottish Gaelic word is pronounced "dtrow" with a soft "dt" sound, and the original pronunciation sounds similar to "troll." The word is also found in Cornish and Welsh, with slight pronunciation differences. The race itself seems based on another dark elf, specifically the Dökkálfar of Norse mythology.

The word dtrow is also found in Old English, suggesting it was an universal word for dark elves on the British Isles.

Anyone who is pronouncing the word wrong, well shame on you! You are mangling the word. The Dtrow or Dökkálfar would be very upset to learn humans are mispronouncing their name so often due to sheer ignorance.


  1. I met R.A.Salvatore several years ago and spoke to him about the pronunciation of a character he created who goes through this very same debate. And his answer to my question on how to pronounce that character's name was "pronounce it however you want". The same also applies here. It is a work of fiction and created for readers to read. We manipulate the stories to our own purpose. Therefore we can pronounce the words the way we want to pronounce them.

    1. And I asked Gary Gygax at the 1985 Gen Con while signing my 1e Unearthed Arcana, and he pronounced then, as Drow as in grow or throw.

  2. I would agree with that assessment except that when people get together and talk about it, it might help to have everyone on the same page. I, for one, cringe when I hear Drau as it forces the mouth to elongate, whereas with Dro, your mouth stays relatively closed. I have always pronounced it Dro, but anymore these days I am in the minority it seems.

  3. Salvatore is not an authority on the proper pronunciation of words, and this word existed well before he starting writing fiction about them.

  4. Salvatore is not an authority on the proper pronunciation of words, and this word existed well before he starting writing fiction about them.


Comments containing links will be marked as spam and not approved.

Publishing a fantasy book? Make sure you get a professional fantasy book editor.

Study Archery in Toronto

So you want to study archery, but you are having difficulty finding an archery instructor who is local. However there is a solution. If you are willing to travel you can take a crash course in archery in Toronto, Canada. 10 lessons over a two week period will take you from archery novice to an experienced and capable archer.

Popular Posts