Ansuz (rune)

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NameProto-GermanicOld EnglishOld Norse
*AnsuzŌsĀcÆscÓss
"god""god""oak""ash""god"
ShapeElder FutharkFuthorcYounger Futhark
Runic letter ansuz.svgRunic letter os.svgRunic letter ac.svgRunic letter ansuz.svgLong-branch Oss.svgShort-twig Oss.svg
Unicode
U+16A8
U+16A9
U+16AA
U+16AB
U+16AC
U+16AD
Transliterationaoaæo
Transcriptionaoaæą, o
IPA[a(ː)][o(ː)][ɑ(ː)][æ(ː)][ɑ̃], [o(ː)]
Position in
rune-row
4425264

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, . The name is based on Proto-Germanic *ansuz, denoting a deity belonging to the principal pantheon in Germanic paganism.

The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a (EtruscanA-01.png), like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph.

Name[edit]

In the Norwegian rune poem, óss is given a meaning of "estuary" while in the Anglo-Saxon one, ōs takes the Latin meaning of "mouth". The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune (ᛅ), which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār).

Since the name of Gothic a.svg a is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz "god", or *ahsam "ear (of wheat)".

Development in Anglo-Saxon runes[edit]

The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs (transliterated o), ac "oak" (transliterated a), and æsc "ash" (transliterated æ).

Development in Younger Futhark[edit]

Variations of the rune in Younger Futhark.

The Younger Futhark corresponding to the Elder Futhark ansuz rune is , called óss. It is transliterated as ą. This represented the phoneme /ɑ̃/, and sometimes /æ/ (also written ) and /o/ (also written ). The variant grapheme became independent as representing the phoneme /ø/ during the 11th to 14th centuries.

Rune poems[edit]

In the Icelandic rune poem, the name óss refers to Odin:

Óss er algingautr
   ok ásgarðs jöfurr,
   ok valhallar vísi.

Óss is aged Gautr
   and prince of Asgard
   and lord of Valhalla.

References[edit]