Ehwaz

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NameProto-GermanicOld English
*EhwazE(o)h
"horse"
ShapeElder FutharkFuthorc
Runic letter ehwaz.svg
Unicode
U+16D6
Transliteratione
Transcriptione
IPA[e(ː)]
Position in
rune-row
19

*Ehwaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the Elder Futhark e rune , meaning "horse" (cognate to Latin equus, Gaulish epos, Tocharian B yakwe, Sanskrit aśva, Avestan aspa and Old Irish ech). In the Anglo-Saxon futhorc, it is continued as eh (properly eoh, but spelled without the diphthong to avoid confusion with ēoh "yew").

The Proto-Germanic vowel system was asymmetric and unstable. The difference between the long vowels expressed by e and ï (sometimes transcribed as 1 and 2) were lost. The Younger Futhark continues neither, lacking a letter expressing e altogether. The Anglo-Saxon futhorc faithfully preserved all Elder futhorc staves, but assigned new sound values to the redundant ones, futhorc ēoh expressing a diphthong.

In the case of the Gothic alphabet, where the names of the runes were re-applied to letters derived from the Greek alphabet, the letter 𐌴 e was named aíƕus "horse" as well (note that in Gothic orthography, <aí> represents monophthongic /e/).

Anglo-Saxon rune poem[edit]

The Anglo-Saxon rune poem has:

Eh byþ for eorlum æþelinga ƿyn,
hors hofum ƿlanc, ðær him hæleþ ymb[e]
ƿelege on ƿicgum ƿrixlaþ spræce
and biþ unstyllum æfre frofur.
"The horse is a joy to princes in the presence of warriors.
A steed in the pride of its hoofs,
when rich men on horseback bandy words about it;
and it is ever a source of comfort to the restless."