Silvan Elves, commonly known as Wood-elves, Silvan folk or Tawarwaith, was a name used to refer to the reclusive, forest-dwelling Elves of Middle-earth. In the late Third Age, the Silvan Elves mostly belonged either to the Edhellond Elves, Galadhrim, or the Elves of Mirkwood.
The Silvan Elves were descendants of the Nandor (and thus in origin Teleri), who had lingered in the Anduin Vales during the Great Journey of the Eldar in the Elder Days. The Silvan Elves hid themselves in their woodland realms beyond the Misty Mountains and became a scattered folk hardly distinguishable from Avari. While some of the Nandor continued to Eriador and later entered Ossiriand, some remained in the Vales of Anduin, and from these latter originated the Wood-elves.
In the early Second Age, after the War of Wrath, Oropher of Doriath (the father of Thranduil, father of Legolas) along with a number of the Grey Elves, sometimes called Sindar, came to the forest realm east of the Misty Mountains. He became the King of the Silvan Elves and established the Woodland Realm of Greenwood the Great. During the Third Age, remnants of the Noldorin realms such as Lindon and Eregion sought new dwellings in more eastern lands and the Silvan Elves of Lothlórien experienced an influx of Noldor and Sindar who had survived the War of the Last Alliance and the fall of Eregion.
The English adjective silvan means "of, characteristic of, or consisting of woods or forests" or "living or located in woods or forests".