The following passage comes from The Hobbit, in the chapter “The Clouds Burst”:

The goblins gathered again in the valley. There a host of Wargs came ravening and with them came the bodyguard of Bolg, goblins of huge size with scimitars of steel. Soon actual darkness was coming into a stormy sky; while still the great bats swirled about the heads and ears of elves and men, or fastened vampire-like on the stricken. Now Bard was fighting to defend the Eastern spur, and yet giving slowly back; and the elf-lords were at bay about their king upon the southern arm, near to the watch-post on Ravenhill. Suddenly there was a great shout, and from the Gate came a trumpet call. They had forgotten Thorin!

I would especially like to know whether 'the stricken' are dead (this is what I find in two Polish translations of the text, the third one states that they are dead and wounded) or not. Maybe this expression describes a completely different state? I also wonder if it refers back to these 'elves and men' from the same sentence.

  • 2
    There's nothing unusual going on here: this is just the straight dictionary definition of stricken. What is it that you don't understand?
    – Marthaª
    Dec 18, 2013 at 16:53
  • I'm interested in what is the current state of 'the stricken'. I've got three translations of The Hobbit. Two of them say that they are dead, and the third one--dead and wounded.
    – user58801
    Dec 18, 2013 at 17:27
  • 1
    If a bat fastened to you, vampire-like, you'd be one of the stricken. In other words, you'd be one of the individuals struck down in some way by _________ (fill in the blank: bad luck, unfortunate event, disease, death) Dec 18, 2013 at 17:39
  • 7
    @WineBuG: ah, see, that's actually a good question. We all know that "stricken" means "affected, but not dead"; but why do we know this? The dictionary definition doesn't seem to preclude death. If you edit your question to (1) show that you have looked up the word(s) you're unsure about, and (2) specify the exact source of your confusion (the translations), then this will be an exemplary question, not a general-reference definition request.
    – Marthaª
    Dec 18, 2013 at 17:40
  • 4
    @KristinaLopez: the bats are a distraction. They're not what struck the stricken. (That would be the goblins and wargs.)
    – Marthaª
    Dec 18, 2013 at 17:43

2 Answers 2


It means that those who had been struck down — that is, the stricken — had the unfortunate experience of having bats fastened on them as vampires might.

It might also be those who were stricken by the bats, since if one were attached to by a bat, one might well be considered stricken just from that alone.


"Stricken" in this case likely refers to "Affected by something overwhelming, such as disease, trouble, or painful emotion".

Those who have bats latched onto them are "Stricken" with those bats — greatly and adversely disabled.

It's also possible he means the bats have literally "stricken" them, as a past-particible of strike. Those who have collided with the bats have had those bats fasten on them like vampires.

  • Read @Martha's comment above...apparently the bats are not the cause for the state of strickenness. :-) Dec 18, 2013 at 17:48
  • @KristinaLopez I guess I am wrong then...there's really no edit I could make to correct this error.
    – Zibbobz
    Dec 18, 2013 at 18:07
  • 1
    I'm with you on the definition and usage but was not familiar with the particular scene. I don't care what they say, if I had a bat attached to me, vampire-like, I'd consider myself stricken! +1 Zibbobz! :-) Dec 18, 2013 at 18:09
  • 1
    "The bats have stricken them" -- no. In modern English, stricken has parted company from strike, and can only be used in the passive, and of an abstract cause such as disease or calamity, not a physical blow. It used to be the ppt of strike, but it isn't any more.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 18, 2013 at 18:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.