Derived from the Old English word smygel, 'burrow,' a smial is a complex tunnel system converted into a family residence by Hobbits in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

An individual bachelor Hobbit might typically live in a hobbit-hole, a single smaller burrow with a single window and exterior door. Larger groups collaboratively would dig smials, joining multiple individual residences - or even multiple households - into elaborate mansions beneath the hills of the Shire. The largest smials in Tolkien's canon could house upwards of one hundred Hobbits comfortably.

Smials feature gently rounded convex and concave walls, with convex protrusions of wall used for shelving, and concave insets used for closets and cubbies. The ceilings were typically domed or vaulted. Doors and windows were always circular rather than rectangular, and doorknobs are placed in the center of the door, activating multiple simultaneous latches when turned, rather than being positioned on the far opposite side from the door's hinges.

The OE word smygel is also the origin of the name Smeagol, which the hobbit-like river creature Gollum was called before the One Ring corrupted his mind. This would be similar to naming someone "Digger" or "Delver" today.

In the Hobbitish language, a daughter language of Rohirric (itself heavily derived from Old English), the word for smial is tran, from Rohirric trahan, 'burrow.'

The Tolkien Society, an international fan club of Tolkien enthusiasts, sometimes refer to their club chapters as "smials."

Iron Noder 2018, 2/30