Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls
For in-game information, see Dragon Shouts.
Unrelenting Force card art

Unrelenting Force being used against a Troll.

The Thu'um, also referred to as Storm Voice[1] or simply the Voice, is a form of magic which utilizes the Dragon Language to form Dragon Shouts of immense power. The word itself directly translates to the word "shout" in the Dragon language. Most shouts are made up of three words of power, and using more words usually strengthens the effects of the shout in some manner. In addition to the ability to project one's voice into a shout, the Thu'um can also be used to share the knowledge and meaning of a word of power with another practitioner of the Thu'um[2] and carve the written form of the word into a nearby surface usually by using the shout or by whispering the word of power.[2] Mortal practitioners of the Thu'um may lose the ability to speak without causing devastation and put people who are not trained in the Way of the Voice in danger due to the strength of their voices, though others may not suffer from such a condition.[3][4]



In the early ages of Nirn, the only beings capable of using the Thu'um were the dragons, the children of Akatosh. The Thu'um was part of their natural language and could be utilized as a weapon. They abused this power to bring havoc upon the races of man during the late Merethic Era. Among the leader of the dragons was Alduin, the World-Eater, who claimed his father Akatosh's lordship.[5] Humans who worshiped the dragons were part of the Dragon Cult.

Human rebellion[]

Kyne had pitied man and tasked Paarthurnax, Alduin's younger brother and second-in-command, to betray the Dragons and teach man to use the Voice.[6] The humans then used the voice to fight the dragons in what came to be known as the Dragon War. The ancient Nords created their own shout, Dragonrend. They then used this shout, along with an Elder Scroll, to send Alduin through time and end the age of the dragons.[7]

Miraak and Hermaeus Mora[]



Miraak, a Dragon Priest, discovered he was the first Dragonborn. He betrayed his order and sought knowledge from Hermaeus Mora, a Daedric Prince. Mora taught him the shout Bend Will, a unique shout which could force people and dragons to do his bidding. Miraak was asked to help defeat Alduin, but refused.[8] Because of his decision, the ancient Nords were unable to defeat Alduin and were forced to use an Elder Scroll to banish Alduin. Miraak instead used his shout to create an army, but in his foolishness, he believed he could depose all dragons. The dragons fought him, and tore Solstheim from Skyrim in battle. Miraak was defeated by his fellow priest Vahlok, but was saved by Hermaeus Mora before the killing blow. His temple was then destroyed, and the dragons freed from his rule.

Miraak's knowledge had grown so much that he managed to learn a shout with four words, an unusual phenomenon.[9][10]

King Wulfharth[]

King Wulfharth was a Dragonborn and had mastery over the Thu'um. It is said his Thu'um was so powerful that he could not verbally swear into the office, and scribes were used to draw up his oaths. He learnt it when watching battles of using the Thu'um.[4]

Creation of the Greybeards[]

In time man too had abused the voice. Instead of using it as a form of prayer or use of self-defense, they instead used it as a mere weapon.[11] Jurgen Windcaller founded the Greybeards on the Throat of the World and taught man to instead use the Thu'um as a force of peace and enlightenment, a teaching which now remains in the Greybeard code. Many greybeards have such a powerful Thu'um they could cause major destruction with a simple sentence.[6][12]

During the Alliance War the Nords of Skyrim made use of Trebuchets and Ballistae, which also confirms that as of the Second Era the Nords stopped using the Voice for warfare.[13]

Tiber Septim[]

The future Emperor of the Septim Empire, Tiber Septim, also known as General Talos was a Dragonborn taught by Wulfharth and the Greybeards how to use the voice. He made his way up the Throat of the World and entered High Hrothgar. The Greybeards told Talos that he would become the chosen one who would defeat the Elves and become Emperor of a united Tamriel.[14]

Ulfric Stormcloak[]

Ulfric Stormcloak was the Jarl of Windhelm who was taught under the Greybeards on how to use the voice. He then grew up to abandon the pacifist philosophy of the Greybeards and used it in combat during the Markarth Incident and against High King Torygg.[15]

However, Ulfric mentions to the Dragonborn that he still doesn’t take the Thu'um lightly even though he can’t completely take to its philosophy.[15]

Last Dragonborn and Alduin[]

Alduin in Sovngarde

Alduin in Sovngarde.

A hero called the Last Dragonborn was a prisoner, about to be executed at Helgen in 4E 201. Before their execution could happen, Alduin, the World-Eater, showed up after his travel through time and destroyed the town. This granted the hero with an escape.[16]

The Last Dragonborn slew the dragon Mirmulnir and discovered they could absorb Dragon Souls. They then used the Thu'um and were called upon by the Greybeards, who shouted "Dovahkiin."[17][18]

The Dragonborn journeyed up High Hrothgar and trained with the Greybeards.[18] They then went on a mission to find out how to defeat Alduin and put an end to the dragon threat.

After discovering how to defeat Alduin, the Dragonborn then went on to defeat Alduin using the Thu'um in Sovngarde.[19]

Last Dragonborn and Miraak[]

At some point the Last Dragonborn was ambushed by a group of cultists sent by Miraak.[20] Upon investigating and arriving on Solstheim, the Dragonborn then discovered who Miraak was and how his history tied in with theirs.[8]

Upon completing multiple tasks for the Skaal and Hermaeus Mora, the Last Dragonborn then learned the Bend Will shout, freed the All-Maker stones and Solstheim from Miraak's grasp and traveled to Apocrypha to defeat Miraak. During this the Thu'um was used extensively, and was even known to have had a four word shout involved.[9]


"I have to wonder... what does the Dragonborn do once he's summoned by the Greybeards? Can the Thu'um be taught, like any skill?"
Hold Guards

The Thu'um can be taught through many means to men, mer and beastfolk alike. Individuals who are Dragonborn can learn the Thu'um faster.


While the Thu'um can easily be learnt by Dragonborn, it takes a much longer time to learn for regular people. Ulfric Stormcloak spent around ten years training with the Greybeards to learn the Thu'um.[12][15]

Word Walls[]

Words of power can be learnt from Word Walls found throughout Tamriel. Each wall often contains one word, and can only be used by those with the knowledge of the Thu'um.

Passing of knowledge[]

Shouts and words of power can be passed on from one another. This is demonstrated by the Greybeards.[18]

Known users[]

TESV Arngeir Crop

Arngeir, speaker of the Greybeards and Thu'um master.

Main article: Tongues




Gauldurson Family[]


Named Dragons[]


  • After the fall of the Reman Empire, a former Dragonguard member known to history only as "the Grandmaster" passed on the knowledge of the Dragonguards' skills, thus giving birth to the Dragonknights.[21] The Dragonknights' abilities, especially the Ardent Flame skills, were claimed by some to originate from powers learned from the dragons. However, the authenticity of such claims was criticized at times.[22]