The word Noldor means 'The Wise'. They are named thus for their great possession of knowledge, but as was later seen, not for their tendency toward sound judgement. Noldor is the plural of the singular form, Noldo.

The Noldor were the people of Finwë and were the second of the groups of Elves to make the great journey into the west from Cuiviénen to Valinor.

When the Noldor reached Valinor they learned all that they could from Aulë and are accounted as the greatest craftsmen and loremasters of the Elves.

The Noldor spent many ages in Aman but after the Darkening of Valinor, many of them forsook the Undying Lands and fled back to Middle-earth. Melkor had slain Finwë, their lord, and had taken the Silmarils from Fëanor, who was one of their folk, so they followed Melkor over the sea to try to reclaim the Great Jewels.

The Noldor were held up by the Teleri at Alqualondë when they tried to confiscate their ships. When the Teleri would not allow the Noldor to take the ships willingly, many of the Noldor took them by force, so participating in the Kin-slaying.

For their part in the Kin-slaying, Mandos told to them the Doom of the Noldor and they were banned from returning to Aman for a time.

Encyclopedia entry originally written by Nienna-of-the-Valar