Talk:List of English words of Old Norse origin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Indexes
WikiProject icon This alphabetical index of Wikipedia articles falls within the scope of the WikiProject Indexes. This is a collaborative effort to create, maintain, and improve alphabetical indexes on Wikipedia.

WikiProject Glossaries
This article falls within the scope of the WikiProject Glossaries, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Glossaries on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
What is a glossary? It's a specialized type of annotated (stand-alone) list article, where the annotations are descriptions of the terms listed. Glossaries serve the primary functions of lists as well as present definitions to assist topic identification, link selection, and browsing. List structuring and annotation is covered in WP:LISTS, and glossary formatting is covered at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (glossaries).

Some of these words are in fact considered to be from Old English or another source, not Old Norse: adder, addle, apple, answer, ash (both), asp (the tree; the snake is from Latin/Greek), ant, ax/axe, arrow, nick, awl, and so on. Verify. James 007 02:09, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

'Ankle' presents a problem because the etymology is tangled up. It is generally considered to be from Old English (form given as 'oncleow' or 'ancleow'), but apparently influenced by Old Norse (form given as 'ankula' or 'ökkla') or Old Frisian 'ankel'. All these words are from the same Germanic source, and before Germanic, from the Proto-Indo-European root *ank. I'm going to erase 'ankle' from the list for now. James 007 04:08, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I got the original set by doing a search of the OED. In particular, I did a case-sensitive keyword search for 'ON' in the etymologies, then checked each result. Since this is time-consuming, I only managed to get a small subset of all the results.

--Johnkarp 06:41, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I don't mean to point fingers at anybody, I just want an accurate list. I give the benefit of the doubt to Old English, when my references say a word is from Old English. James 007 02:45, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

This is an article I am able to substantially expand. If there is any objection to how I am formatting entries (e.g., adding the first known provenance of the word in English as per the O.E.D., Skeat's Dictionary of the English Language, et cetera), please let me know on my Talk page.
One question before I get back to editing, though (mostly directed at James 007): this is a list of words in English, so do you mind if I add words from Middle English in addition to Modern English?
- P.MacUidhir (t) (c) 01:06, 10 October 2005 (UTC)


All spellings of Old Norse words are as according to my references; other references might have different spellings. James 007 05:04, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)


This one is a real problem to isolate away from 'be' in the reference texts I have convieniently available here. The O.E.D. is annoyingly vague in tracing it. Skeat's Dictionary has some good data, but nothing that can be easily boiled down to what is apparently wanted to accompany the O.N. portions of the entries for this list. Björkman's work on borrowings into Middle English might have something, but I cannot find it right now (seems like it should, though). I am going to avoid doing anything with this word at the moment.

-P.MacUidhir (t) (c) 01:37, 10 October 2005 (UTC)


Is the list supposed to include English words that are cognate with Old Norse? I figure the answer is 'no', but wanted to ask in order to be certain. It would make the list much longer, which would probably be a bad idea, and the list *does* say "of Old Norse origin", so I think this may be a foolish question. :) As an example of what I mean:

Proposed entry:

  • ör, plural örvar ("=an arrow") {possible cognate}
  • English provenance = c835 CE (as arwan, an early form of the word)

From the O.E.D.:

[OE. had two cognate forms, earh for arh:{em}OTeut. arhwo- neuter, and arwe for arhwe:{em}*arhwôn weak fem.; akin to ON. ör, örvar:{em}*arhwâ str. fem., and Goth. arhwazna from arhw (cf. hlaiwasna ‘grave,’ from hlaiw); prob. ‘the thing belonging to the bow,’ arhw being cognate with L. arqu-us, arc-us, bow. (Cf. OHG. fingiri:{em}*fingrio- the thing belonging to the finger, ring, f. fingar.) A rare word in OE. the ordinary terms being str{aeacu}l, and flá, flán, of which the former disappeared after 1200, the latter occurred in Scotch after 1500. But arrow was the ordinary prose word after 1000.]

(/end O.E.D. quote)

P.MacUidhir (t) (c) 02:29, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

There seems to be quite many words that are mergers of Old English and Old Norse forms, making the exact origin hard to trace. 惑乱 分からん 14:33, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

July 5th: vigr: Both the meaning and spelling make "vigor" a more likely candidate.

No, vigor is from Old French, most Norse nouns ending in -r lack an -r in modern English. 惑乱 分からん 18:30, 2 August 2006 (UTC)


According to SOED, this was reborrowed into modern English from modern Danish, not Old Norse. (Wiktionary has it as a straight descent from OE run, which I think is incorrect.)

I've taken it out for now. Mentioning it here because I forgot to mention it in the edit summary. — Haeleth Talk 08:56, 15 June 2006 (UTC)


I can't quite remember correctly, but I think the English "alive" comes from the ON "á lif". Someone who knows what he's doing should add that. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:23, 8 April 2007 (UTC). editing live performance like ginger fox number one — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:20, 8 November 2014 (UTC)


Wyrd, the source for weird, does not come from Old Norse, but is genuine Old English. The Old Norse form of the word is "urðr". has the details.

Several other words on this list are wrong as well, the spelling of the Old Norse words especially. They are maybe spelled like they have been spelled on some occasions, but they are not spelled according to the system of spelling Old Norse that is in use nowadays.

A lot of Norse words are missing here unless I am mistaken[edit]

  • Dale = Valley, its very common for the word Dale to be used in place of Valley in Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
  • Gate = street
  • By = town i.e. Derby, Grimsby
  • Fell = Hill, again its use is very common in North of England.

These are common in old Danelaw areas of the east Midlands and north of England. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Willhdavison (talkcontribs) 21:55, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

"Dale" is actually from Old English, although Norse influence preserved it, "gate" meaning street or manner of acting seems extremely archaic or dialectal but alright, "by" doesn't seem to ever be used meaning village or town by itself, and "fell", just as "gate" seems to be quite archaic/dialectal. Anyway, I have my doubts about "dale" and "by", but "gate" and "fell" could be added, rare as they might be. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 01:31, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

The Danish for valley, is dalen, so I can't see Dale being Old English as Dale only occurs as place name in parts of England's Danelaw, such as the Derbyshire Dales near the Danish settlement of Derby! or Yorkshire dales, you don't get it in the south of England which had no Danish settlement. This may come as surprise to people who don't actually come from where modern English developed, which is England not America, but the word dale to describe a valley, fell to describe a Hill, is in common every day use by millions of people in England.

As for doubts about "by" see Which states "Examples are easy to find, with names such as Grimsby ('Grim's homestead'), Thurnby (either 'homestead near a thorn-bush' or 'Thyrne's village'), and Derby ('village near deer') still very common. Grimsby, much as it is today, was likely to be a place of trade and fishing. Thurnby and Derby were probably agricultural villages, where the Vikings made a living for themselves in their new land." The word Derby is in common use in the US, UK and Australia, so I think you can say its a English word of Old Norse origin.

On it says "The English we write and speak today owes its origins to a mix of the London and east Midlands dialects." and goes on to say "Given that the East Midlands dialect itself was, in origin, a mixture of English and Scandinavian (with French thrown in for good measure), the impact of the Viking invasions remains very much with us today. We still speak a version of English that was born on the borders of Mercia and Danelaw." The Danelaw was not uniformly settled. Danish colonists congregated more densely in some areas than in others – in particular in Yorkshire and the East Midlands in Lincoln, Stamford, Leicester, Nottingham and Derby.

"Dalen" is in definite tense, "the valley". "Valley" is "dal". Apparently the word was in Old English, although Norse influence prevented it from extinction: [1]
My doubts about "by" is that I don't see it as a word in itself, it's just an archaic "suffix" used in placenames. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 15:26, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Daughter is also missing from the list78.146.14.103 (talk) 18:15, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Source? "Daughter from O.E. dohtor, from P.Gmc. *dochter."[2] Hayden120 (talk) 11:43, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
Indented line
  • Ta = I have always said "Ta" as you would say "Thank You", or Thanks, It was not till I worked in Sweden that everybody said "Tack" to me for thank you, and it was second nature to say "Ta" to everybody for thanks, and nobody was any the wiser. I grew up in South Wales, near Llanelli/Swansea, I am not sure how common "Ta" as a thank you is in other parts of the UK? its definitely not Welsh as that is "Diolch", So I am convinced it must be a very old Viking word, I know the vikings named Swansea, so maybe this is a language remnant of their presence. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sgdavies (talkcontribs) 12:23, 27 September 2013 (UTC)


I have edited the Ragnarök entry to correct some mistaken translations (namely "Twilight of the Gods", which is not the translation), but I wonder if Ragnarök even belongs on this list since it is not an ON-derived word, but a word which is used only in reference to the mythological event in Norse mythology for which we have no English equivalent word. (talk) 00:26, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

coloring of words?[edit]

On the main page, some of the words are in a darker blue than others. What is being indicated by this?

This is amazing[edit]

We owe alot as English people to our northern brethren in both culture and genealogy86.144.66.152 (talk) 21:20, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

wasn't there a genetic study in the last few years that showed that English people have plenty of Celt in them, with the Angles and the Saxons not providing as many German genes as was previously thought, and the Vikings even less? yes I know, sources, sources... (talk) 18:33, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Removed POV fork intro[edit]

I removed a large chunk from the intro because:

  • it seemed to be simply an alternative minority-view intro
  • it's based on a single source which seems to be POV and way out there (the site even doubts the Anglo-Saxon origin of the English language)
  • it's unwikified and unencylopedic (e.g., asking questions, saying that "X is difficult, and would require Y, therefore not X, etc.)

Anyway, I don't think there's anything salvageable from this removed text, but for the sake of posterity and fairness, I'll post it here.

However, there are problems with assuming these words were brought via Vikings. Firstly, Anglo-Saxon England already had huge connections with Scandinavia even before the Vikings as attested to the Beowulf and Sutton Hoo. Secondly many words such as through, skin, egg are basic words which Old English had words for; many Old English basic words were not replaced, so why were some basic words replaced and not others? Also words such as 'they' are pronouns which are very difficult to change as they are the basis of any language. Such changes would require the total replacement of the locals, however in England there is simply no evidence of this and Viking armies are estimated by many historians to be much smaller. 90% of all place names in England are Old English and most Viking place names have been found to have pre-existing settlements underneath, suggesting either that name was already present or is simply a renaming. Also many words are found in the West Midlands, which was not conquered by Vikings but found in local dialects such as Blunder, Kid and Gawk. There is evidence by both Oppenheimer and others that the North and East of England already spoke a Scandinavian-type version of Old English or certainly a related North Germanic version of Germanic languages.[1]

Ufwuct (talk) 16:16, 16 July 2012 (UTC)


seems to be two issues here, the "a" part, and the "loft" part. the a- prefix, does that come from Norse or was it already in English? (see also on this page alive, and i didn't even check for others) does "a-" separated move the word that should be listed to "loft", and then we also have to explain the words "loft/lift" vis a vis German "luft". Any reason to think any of this is Norse into English, or just everybody is Germanic? (talk) 18:29, 11 November 2012 (UTC)


According to the OED, the word 'auk' is an original Germanic word, with cognates in Swedish and Danish, derived from Old Norse. This sounds as if this means it is not actually a word English took from Old Norse, but a word we had originally.

  1. ^