Gaut (Old Norse nominative Gautr; variants Gauti, Gaute, Guti, Gapt; latinized Gothus; Old English Geat) is an early Germanic name, from a Proto-Germanic gautaz, which represents an eponymous founder or tribal god of a number of related Germanic tribes of the migration period, i.e. the Gautar (*Gautoz, Geats), Gutans (*Gutaniz, Goths) and Gutes (Gotlanders). Gautr is also one of the Eddaic names of Odin.
According to Andersson (1996), *Gautoz and *Gutaniz are two ablaut grades of the Proto-Germanic root geut- with the meaning "to pour" designating the tribes as "pourers of metal" or "forgers of men". The "pouring" etymology associates the name with the word god (*gudan "deity, idol"), which may be derived from the zero grade of the same root.
The names Geats, Goths and Gutes are closely related tribal names. Geat was originally Proto-Germanic *Gautoz, and Goths and Gutes were *Gutaniz.
The Gutasaga (c. 1300), which treats the history of Gotland before its Christianization, begins with Þjelvar and his son Hafþi, who had three sons, Graipr, Guti and Gunfjaun, who were the ancestors of the Gotlanders, the Gutes (which is originally the same name as Goths).
The German chronicler Johannes Aventinus (ca. 1525) reported Gothus as one of 20 dukes who accompanied Tuisto into Europe, settling Gothaland as his personal fief, during the reign of Nimrod at Babel. The Swede Johannes Magnus around the same time as Aventinus, wrote that Gothus or Gethar, also known as Gogus or Gog, was one of Magog's sons, who became first king of the Goths (Geats) in Gothaland. Magnus separately listed Gaptus as son and successor of Beric, first king of the Goths south of the Baltic.
The name Gautr appears as one of the names of Odin in Norse mythology, but also as an alternative form of the name Gauti, who was one of Odin's sons, and the founder of the kingdom of the Geats, Götaland (Gautland/Geatland), in Bósa saga ok Herrauðs (c. 1300). This Gautr/Gauti also appears as the father of the recurrent and undatable Geatish king Gautrekr in that saga, and several other sagas produced between 1225 and 1310.
Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies
Some versions of the English royal line of Wessex add names above that of Woden, purportedly giving Woden's ancestry, though the names are now usually thought be in fact another royal lineage that has been at some stage erroneously pasted onto the top of the standard genealogy. Some of these genealogies end in Geat, whom it is reasonable to think might be Gaut, while others continue with Geat's father Tatwa and even further. In the Life of Alfred (893), Asser states that the pagans worshipped this Geat himself for a long time as a god, quoting a disdainful verse attributed to Coelius Sedulius (5th century). The 10th century poem of Deor briefly mentions Geat, and his wife Maethehilde. The account in the Historia Britonum (c. 835; generally attributed to Nennius) says Geat was considered the son of a god by the heathens of England, but elsewhere it names Gothus, a son of Armenon, as the Goths' ancestor.
- Andersson, Thorsten. (1996) "Göter, goter, gutar" in Journal Namn och Bygd, Uppsala.