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Eitr is a substance in Norse mythology. This liquid substance is the origin of all living things: the first giant Ymir was conceived from eitr. The substance is supposed to be very poisonous and is also produced by Jörmungandr (the Midgard serpent) and other serpents.


The word eitr exists in most North Germanic languages (all derived from the Old Norse language) in Icelandic/Faroese eitur, in Danish edder, in Swedish etter. Cognates also exist in Dutch etter (pus), in German Eiter (pus), in Old Saxon ĕttar, in Old English ăttor. The word is broadly translated: poisonous, evil, bad, angry, sinister etc.[1]

The word is used in common Scandinavian folklore as a synonym for snake venom.[2]


In Vafþrúðnismál Odin asks the Giant Vafþrúðnir about the origin of Ymir. Vafþrúðnir answers:

Ór Élivagom
stukko eitrdropar,
svá óx, unz varð ór iötunn;
þar órar ættir
kómu allar saman,
því er þat æ allt til atalt.

Rough translation:

From Éliwaves
Eitrdrops splashed
that grew into a giant
who begat all families
from which all [giants] come
that is why we are easily angered

The last line of the stanza in Vafþrúðnismál where Vafþrúðnir says "that is why we are easily angered", is a word-play with the meaning of the word eitr, as it also means anger/angry (similar to "poison a relationship").[1]

Popular culture[edit]

In Tomb Raider: Underworld, which features a storyline heavily influenced by Norse mythology, eitr plays an important part in the plot.

In Titan Quest: Ragnarök eitr can be found in Asgard on most creatures.

In 2018's God of War, Kratos' Leviathan Axe is imbued with eitr when he first meets the World Serpent.


  1. ^ a b Svenska Akademiens Ordbok, entry for Etter [1]

External links[edit]