- See also: night elf.
The kaldorei; (from Darnassian or Thalassian: Kal - star and Dorei - children), which means "children of the stars" in their main tongue of Darnassian, were a race of nocturnal, feral nomadic humanoids that once lived in the jungles of the former continent of Kalimdor, at the time the sole continent of Azeroth. They were considered the greatest tribe in the land. They journeyed around the continent eager to uncover secrets hidden in dark places. At some point, they were drawn to the shimmering power of the Well of Eternity. They named the continent Kalimdor and settled near the vortex of cosmic energy. They adopted the name kaldorei meaning "children of the stars" in their native tongue. After several ages spent in peace and learning, the kaldorei grew in power and wisdom so that they soon outstripped the other humanoid races of Azeroth. Their kingdom had now become an empire.   
After the War of the Ancients and the Great Sundering, those trapped in the Eternal Palace were cursed and transformed into the Naga. Xavius was transformed by Sargeras into a Satyr, and became the progenitor of that race. The remainder of the Highborne caste of kaldorei broke off from their bretheren to become the High Elves. Those kaldorei who were left would later be known as the Night Elves.  The Night Elves sought to rebuild a new kaldorei empire. 
The kaldorei venerated the moon goddess, Elune, even before they settled around the Well of Eternity. They believed she dwelled within it during the day and would arise from it at night.
Kaldorei is a Darnassian word meaning "children of the stars". It can also be interpreted as "people of the stars". It can refer to the tribe which existed before the night elves, to the night elves themseleves, and sometimes to the Highborne.
- Some sources state that the race was called the kaldorei before finding the Well of Eternity. Other sources state they adopted the name after finding the Well of Eternity.
- It is not known why or when the kaldorei starting being known as the night elves, but sources show the term by the time of the War of the Ancients.
- Following with the entries above, the kaldorei could be seen as either:
- The exact same race as the night elves
- Viewed as a race that became the new race of night elves over time and exposure to the Well of Eternity (which did change them physically).
- There is some controversy over whether kaldorei is ever spelled "kal'dorei" in-game or any other official sources of lore. So far the evidence is weak.
Perhaps the early kaldorei race's tribe were the mysterious dark elves.
There is also speculation (and hints in official lore) that the trolls are descended from the elves, or that they both share a common ancestor. Their description as having been tribal, feral humanoids is consistent with the traits of dark trolls, which can be found near the night elf homelands. Also, dark trolls and night elves have much in common physically, namely height, build, similar skin coloration, and long, pointed ears (a trait shared between trolls and elves, and races descended from elves, but not found in any other races of Azeroth). Also both are nocturnal (which is not a standard Troll trait).
The Kaldorei of Warcraft are roughly analogous to the Quendi of Tolkien's works; a progenitor race of the elves. In Tolkien's works, the quendi are sundered into the calaquendi (elves of the light, or those who made the journey to Aman and saw the true light of Telperion and Laurelin), and the moriquendi (those who didn't). In Warcraft, the calaquendi can be equated to the quel'dorei (high elves), and the moriquendi to the night elves (who still call themselves kaldorei).