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Thor kicks Litr onto Baldr's burning ship, illustration by Emil Doepler (ca. 1905)

Litr (also Lit; Old Norse: [ˈlitz̠], 'colour, appearance') is the name borne by a dwarf and a jötunn in Norse mythology.


The Old Norse name Litr has been translated as 'colour', 'hue', or 'appearance'.[1][2][3] It stems from a Proto-Germanic form reconstructed as *ulituz (compare with Gothic wlits 'shape, appearance', or Old English wlite 'clearness, sparkle').[1]


In Snorri Sturluson's Gylfaginning (49), Litr is kicked into Baldr's funeral pyre by Thor:

Then Thor stood by and hallowed the pyre with Mjöllnir; and before his feet ran a certain dwarf which was named Litr; Thor kicked at him with his foot and thrust him into the fire, and he burned.
Gylfaginning, Brodeur's translation

Litr is also listed as a dwarf in Völuspá (12).

A dwarf named Litr also appears in Áns saga bogsveigis, where he is coerced by the protagonist Án to build him a bow.


But in a stanza by Bragi Boddason[4] quoted in Snorri's Skáldskaparmál (42) Litr is also mentioned in a kenning for Thor: "Lit's men's fight-challenger"[5] ("Litar flotna fangboði"). Given that Thor is the enemy of giants, it is generally assumed that, in this kenning, Litr must refer to a giant.[6] Litr is also a giant in one version of the poem about Thor by Þorbjörn dísarskáld, where the skald lists giants and giantesses killed by the god (but Litr only appears in one manuscript, the others mentioning Lútr instead).[7]

This led John Lindow to suggest that there may have been originally only one Litr, a giant, for "it would not have been inappropriate for Thor to have killed a giant in some earlier version of the funeral of Baldr".[7]


  1. ^ a b de Vries 1962, p. 359.
  2. ^ Lindow 2001, p. 209.
  3. ^ Orchard 1997, p. 190.
  4. ^ This stanza belongs either to Ragnarsdrápa (according to Finnur Jónsson's edition) or to an independent poem about Thor's fishing (according to Margaret Clunies Ross' edition Archived 2007-08-31 at the Wayback Machine).
  5. ^ Faulkes 1995.
  6. ^ Faulkes 1995, Lindow 2002.
  7. ^ a b Lindow 2002.


  • de Vries, Jan (1962). Altnordisches Etymologisches Worterbuch (1977 ed.). Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-05436-3.
  • Faulkes, Anthony, trans. (1987). Edda (1995 ed.). Everyman. ISBN 0-460-87616-3.
  • Lindow, John (2001). Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-983969-8.
  • Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend. Cassell. ISBN 978-0-304-34520-5.