Erilaz is a Migration period Proto-Norse word attested on various Elder Futhark inscriptions, which has often been interpreted to mean "magician" or "rune master", viz. one who is capable of writing runes to magical effect. However, as Mees (2003) has shown, the word is an ablaut variant of earl, and is also thought to be linguistically related to the name of the tribe of the Heruli, so it is probably merely an old Germanic military title (see etymology below).
This word is likeliest the Proto-Germanic ancestor of Anglo-Saxon eorl (Modern English earl) and its relatives, meaning "man, warrior, noble". The word erilaz is likely a derivative of *erǭ sb.f. "fight, battle", thus the interpretation "one who fights, warrior", though it has also been connected to *arô sb.m. "eagle".
- Latin: Heruli (dating from around 250 AD onwards)
- Greek Eruloi (dating from around 250 AD onwards)
- Runic: Erilaz (dating from around 200 AD - 400 AD)
- ekerilazasugisalasmuhahaitegagaga […]
- ek erilaz asugisalas muha haite, gagaga […]
Which is interpreted as "I, the earl of Āsugīsalaz, am called Muha," followed by some sort of battle cry or chant ("gagaga"). Āsugīsalaz contains ansu-, "god", and gīsalaz, "pledge". Muha may either be a personal name, or a word meaning "retainer" or similar. The runes of gagaga are displayed as a row of three bindrunes based on the X-shape of the g rune with side-twigs attached to its extremities for the a. A similar sequence gægogæ is found on the Undley bracteate.
- Bracteates Eskatorp-F and Väsby-F have e[k]erilaz = "I [am] a Herulian"
- Bratsberg clasp: ekerilaz
- Rosseland (N KJ69 U): ekwagigazerilaz
- Järsberg Runestone (Vr 1): ekerilaz
- By (N KJ71 U): ekirilaz
- The Etelheim clasp has mkmrlawrta read as ek erla wrta "I, Erla, wrote this"; Runic 'E' and 'M' are similar to each other.
- Eythórsson, Thórhallur. Syntactic variation in the older runic inscriptions. Kulturhistorisk museum (KHM). p. 2. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
- Cf. Orel (2003:85).
- Kiel Rune Project
- Mees, B. (2003). "Runic 'erilaR'", North-Western European Language Evolution (NOWELE), 42:41-68.
- Orel, Vladimir (2003). A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. Leiden: Brill. pg. 205. ISBN 90-04-12875-1.
- Plowright, S. (2006). The Rune Primer, Lulu Press. ISBN 1-84728-246-6; book review