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NameProto-GermanicOld EnglishOld Norse
ShapeElder FutharkFuthorcYounger Futhark
Transcriptionkck, g
IPA[k][k], [c], [tʃ][k], [g]
Position in
The evolution of the rune in the elder futhark during the centuries

The k-rune (Younger Futhark , Anglo-Saxon futhorc ) is called Kaun in both the Norwegian and Icelandic rune poems, meaning "ulcer". The reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Kauną. It is also known as Kenaz ("torch"), based on its Anglo-Saxon name.

The Elder Futhark shape is likely directly based on Old Italic c (C, 𐌂) and on Latin C. The Younger Futhark and Anglo-Saxon Futhorc shapes have parallels in Old Italic shapes of k (K, 𐌊) and Latin K (compare the Negau helmet inscription). The corresponding Gothic letter is 𐌺 k, called kusma.

The shape of the Younger Futhark kaun rune () is identical to that of the "bookhand" s rune in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc. The rune also occurs in some continental runic inscriptions. It has been suggested that in these instances, it represents the ch /χ/ sound resulting from the Old High German sound shift (e.g. ᛖᛚᚴ elch in Nordendorf II).[1]

Rune Poem:[2] English Translation:

Old Norwegian
Kaun er barna bǫlvan;
bǫl gørver nán fǫlvan.

Ulcer is fatal to children;
death makes a corpse pale.

Old Icelandic
Kaun er barna böl
ok bardaga [för]
ok holdfúa hús.
flagella konungr.

Disease fatal to children
and painful spot
and abode of mortification.

Cen bẏþ cƿicera gehƿam, cuþ on fẏre
blac ond beorhtlic, bẏrneþ oftust
ðær hi æþelingas inne restaþ.

The torch is known to every living man
by its pale, bright flame; it always burns
where princes sit within.

  • The Icelandic poem is glossed with Latin flagella "whip".
  • The Anglo-Saxon poem gives the name cen "torch".


  1. ^ Tineke Looijenga, Texts & contexts of the oldest Runic inscriptions, BRILL, 2003, ISBN 978-90-04-12396-0, p. 129.
  2. ^ Original poems and translation from the Rune Poem Page.