Scandinavian loans in Old and Middle English, and their legacy in the dialects of England and modern standard English
(Written: 2000; Updated 15 October 2011)
green = Old Norse (ON) and Old English (OE); red = Modern English; maroon = Middle English (ME); blue = Modern English dialect; purple = cognates in Modern Scandinavian and German
* Old English examples cited are given in an Early West Saxon form unless stated.
** Modern Scandinavian parallels are given where these seem appropriate, and are represented in Modern Norwegian form. This means Norwegian Bokmål unless stated otherwise, i.e. in such cases where Nynorsk or even Danish forms are closer to the ON than the Bokmål ones.
Some ON words
were already beginning to find
their way into Old English, mostly due to Viking raids and later
the Danelaw) in
It is, however, true to say the language of the speakers of the Danelaw did more to directly change English than did the Norman Conquest of 1066. This was because the two languages – ON and OE – resembled one another enough for the learning of a second language to not be necessary. OE and ME could quite comfortably admit loans from Norse and the reverse was presumably the case.
An example to
show the complexity of the issues
at hand would be the Northern dialect and Scots bairn which means
"child" in Standard English. It
may come from ON barn(it) and exists in
Modern Nordic languages (Norwegian and Danish barn, Icelandic and
Faroese barn etc.). Old
English also had a version of this word,
i) The Old
English usage was
well rooted and familiar enough to remain in use despite standardising
tendencies from southern English.
ii) The Old English word was declining until the Norse users maintained its existence by using an identical or very similar word from their tongue.
iii) The Old English word died out completely, and was re-introduced (perhaps unwittingly) by the Norse speakers in the occupied districts.
gave us a good number of words that
are in everyday use and a fundamental element of the everyday
English. Many of the words which came in through Norse were those
with the sea, law and local administration - as will be seen from the
made below. Everyday Norse words in English are, for example: law, fellow, get, take, anger, sky, skin, wrong, same, as well as,
most remarkably, the pronouns they, their and
them, which ousted
the OE equivalents hîe, heora and
him. They also
gave us the present meanings of words like
meaning “bit, piece,
meaning “joy”), earl
meaning “warrior; hero”), dwell (original
meaning “go astray, tarry”)
restricted the meanings of words like holm (original
meaning “sea, ocean, water”) and starve
meaning “die”). Borrowing of
pronouns is a very rare phenomenon and
illustrates both the intimate relations and deep effect Norse had with,
early English. Most loans would have found their way into the language
9th 11th centuries, but they do not start appearing in quantities until
written records of the 1200s i.e. Early Middle English. Norse words
relatively slow to show themselves in written verse, but when they did,
beginning in the North and
The effects of Norse speech can be appreciated from the fact that East and West Mercian developed into considerably different dialects in Middle English. There must have been areas of particularly dense Danish settlement for the local Saxons to need to acquire at least a basic understanding of the settlers’ language due to their numbers and social and commercial importance. Moreover, to Nordic cross-border linguistic interference and a form of creolized Old English can to a large measure be attributed the inflexional-levelling which occurred in English from c.1100-1350 AD. This process has to a greater or lesser extent happened in all Germanic languages, but the need for the Saxon English and Norsemen to communicate, in languages whose vocabulary but not inflexional endings were very similar, very likely accelerated this process in English. However, not everyone now agrees with this view (advanced, among others, by Jespersen). Robert Burchfield, writing in his The English Language, argues:
"This view [i.e. the creolized, flexionless English], which supposes a period, however temporary, of creolized and virtually illiterate speech, cannot be sustained. It is much more likely that the linguistic changes of the period 900 to 1200 result from an increasing social acceptance of informal and unrecorded types of English ....These informal types of English emerged because of the instability of the Old English declensional system itself ..." (p.14).
He continues to point out that the OE case system contained too few clearly distinguishable inflexions required to reflect the relationships between words in a sentence. Therefore the inflexional system, since it was an imperfect linguistic tool - perhaps to the point of hindering communication - was gradually scaled down (to a few easily distinguishable forms) in favour of a system which expressed syntactic relationships more clearly, i.e. prepositions. These, as Burchfield notes, were "powerful but insufficiently exploited". His argument certainly has the force of logic behind it. In defence of the views of Jespersen and others, it is instructive to note, as he points out (p.76):
"So when we find that the wearing away and levelling of grammatical forms in the regions in which the Danes chiefly settled was in a couple of centuries in advance of the same process in the more southern parts of the country, the conclusion does not seem unwarrantable this acceleration of the tempo of linguistic simplification is due to the settlers, who did not care to learn English correctly in every minute particular...".
of the OE case system began in
precisely those areas where Saxon and Dane lived side by side.
our attention to the situation in
The reasoned conclusion arrived at from all this is that the OE case system was already breaking down, and the inflexional levelling that occurred during the late OE period and Early ME period was no doubt accelerated (especially in the Danish settled regions) by Norse influence, but not caused by, Norse influence on the English language. Loss of the case system was essentially a native phenomenon, clearly influenced by, but independent of, the Scandinavian settlements.
written about 1200 in the north-east
The Middle English words rad “afraid”, leyten “seek”, occ “and”, rowst “voice”, ros “praise”, summ “as”, ro “peace”, usel “wretched”, gal “mad”, skil “divide” and allesamen “together” seem entirely foreign to us but a Dane would immediately recognize them as his own. None of these words made it into modern Standard English.
Middle English poems of King Horn
and Havelok the Dane
considerable Scandinavian features at the level of lexis - the former
In Laghamon’s Brut we find the first use of the words leg (ON leggr) and Thursday (ON Þórsdagr) instead of Saxon shank (OE) and Thundersday (OE Þunresdæge). Chaucer was to use some 25 Scandinavian words in his later Canterbury Tales.
From the 1200s onwards scores of Norse words start to appear in English texts, often replacing words of native origin. Of these could be mentioned the replacement of werp by cast, halse by neck, eyethirl by window, swester by sister, ire by anger, snith by cut. In some cases synonymous or near-synonymous word pairs arose, e.g. craft/skill, sick/ill, rear/raise, bâ/both (both of course eventually became the word in Standard English).
which in Anglo-Saxon England denoted a minor official was elevated in
to a high-ranking nobleman due to the influence of Norse jarl. Theonest, tithande and brydlop are
all attested in ME, but only tidings has
survived in the modern standard language. Thou
art and they
Some 400 items whose origins are demonstrably Scandinavian are still alive in the modern standard language, and they are one of the cornerstones of the basic word-stock, representing some of the most common and everyday words of the language. If we add the Norse terms in the English dialects, a figure of well over 2,000 items can be arrived at.
Baugh and Cable arrive at a rather larger number for the standard language:
“That number, if we restrict the list to those for which the evidence is fully convincing, is about 900…To this group we should probably be justified in adding an equal number in which a Scandinavian origin is probable or in which the influence of Scandinavian forms has entered.” (p.105)
The following list of nouns, adjectives and verbs includes some of the most common words in the language: awkward, bag, bait (vb.), band, bank, bask, birth, boon, brink, bull, cast (vb.), clip (vb.), crave, crawl, crook, dirt, down (feathers), dregs, drip, droop, drown, egg, egg (on), fellow, flat, flit, fog, gait, gap, gape, gasp, gaze, girth, glint, glitter, guess, hap, ill, keel, kid (noun), kindle, leg, lift (vb.), link, loan, loose, low (adj.), lug, lurk, meek, mire, muck, muggy, nag, odd, prod, race, raise, rake (vb.), ransack, rid, rift, root, rotten, rug, rugged, scab, scare, score (noun), scowl, scrap, screech, seat, seemly, sister, skill, skin, skirt, skull, sky, slaughter, slouch, sly, snare, snub, sprint, stack, steak, swain, take, tangle, tattered, thrift, thrive, thrust, tidings, tight, trust, want, weak, whisk, window. Possibly of Norse origin are sag, scrub, and toss.
Norse words which reached us via Norman French are flounder, faggot, frown, equip, blemish, target, tryst, scutch, jolly, elope, brawl, waive (after Geipel).
OE scyrte gives rise to modern shirt, while the corresponding ON term skyrta gives us skirt. Similarly, retention of the hard sounds of k and g in such words as kid, get, give and egg is telling of Norse origins. In OE plough meant a measure of land, but in Norse it referred to the agricultural implement.
The following, according to Geipel, are used over an area stretching from Shetland to East Anglia and Northampton: havers “oats”, bigg “barley”, addle “earn”, clegg “horsefly”, scarn “cow dung”, ewer “udder”, lea “scythe”, skellum “rascal”, kenspeck “easily recognisable”, scrat “goblin”, howk “to dig”, aye “always”, ket “carrion”, nay “no”, toom “empty”, steg “gander”, mun “mouth”, waur ”worse”, smoot “narrow passage”, hoast “cough”, laithe “barn”, ing “meadow”, beck “brook”, sprot “twigs”.
So thorough was the integration of Norse elements in English that many words remained undetected until linguists began to investigate English using the comparative method in the second half of the 1800s. It is reasonable to assume that if a form is not recorded in OE but is found in Scandinavian, and it is recorded in ME from the Danelaw or other areas heavily settled by Scandinavians, it is likely to be a loan. Interestingly enough it is thought that the lexical convergences between Norse and Northumbrian Anglian dialects – i.e. just in those areas where the Norse presence was the strongest – would have been particularly plentiful, something which probably assisted the uptake of Norse loans into those same dialects. ME texts in the Northumbrian dialect are particularly rich in Norse loans.
When we find English words with an occlusive rather than palatalised g or k before a front vowel, a feature that was preserved in Old Norse, we may suspect a Norse loan or at least Norse influence. So there are the Norse forms garn, kista, skömm, skruð besides native cognates yarn, chest, shame and shroud. So words like get, kid and skin are loans, while the words give and kettle were clearly influenced by Norse (had they not been, the modern forms of their OE cognates would be *yive and *chettle).
Our word loose descends from the Norse form lauss and not its OE cognate lêas. Likewise weak is derived from ON veikr and not OE wâc. The archaic word swain is from ON sveinn and not OE swân.
The -sk in bask and busk is a relic of the Norse reflexive form (ON baðask and búask). Also a relic is the -t in scant, athwart and want from ON skammt (the neuter form of skammr “short while”), þvert (the neuter form of þverr “perverse”) and vant (the neuter form of vanr “defective”).
In some cases both the OE and Norse words have survived with a difference of meaning or use, as in the following pairs (English word first): no-nay, whole-hale, rear-raise, from-fro, craft-skill, hide-skin, sick-ill.
1 - OLD ENGLISH
1016 – and thus before the reign
of Knud den Store (Canute) – are a
small number of words relating specifically to Danish or Danelaw
sailing barða, cnearr, floege, scegð, æsc, mercantile
matters ôran, marc,
battle and the court dreng, hold, social,
administrative and legal matters liesing, grið,
bonda, lagu, wæpengetæc, socn, hâmsocn, sâclêas, withermal, stefnan,
toft. These terms
are not common in
Æsc, the name of a Viking ship (ON askr), is attested in the Chronicle as early as 893.
Hûsbônda was first in general use around 1000.
Eorl was influenced by Norse iarl. After 1017 eorl replaced the old title ealdorman, which does not completely disappear, but no longer denotes the highest office in the state of the king. In 1036 Godwine eorl is mentioned in the Chronicle. This is the first time eorl is used instead of ealdorman about an Englishman outside the Danelaw.
Terms connected with the reign of Canute and his sons are liðsmen, hûscarl and nîðing. Hûscarl lived alongside native hîredman. Also associated with Canute are gærsuman “treasures” (ODan. gørsum).
During the late 1000s and the first half of the 1100s about thirty Norse terms appear in English manuscripts for the first time, and around half of these survive in modern standard English: knife, root, rag, score, skin, snare, haven, die, hit, take, crooked, they, them, their (in the case of the personal pronouns the Norse forms probably triumphed because the Saxon forms could be confusing). More Danelaw terms appear during this period: hird, hofding, fylcian, manslot, sceppe, tapor-æx. Also during this period deyja replaced sweltan, skin replaced fell, root replaced wyrt, and taka replaced niman. (The first appearance of take is in 1072 in the Chronicle: ond þa men ealle he tóc). The words both and till make an appearance during this period (in the Peterborough Chronicle), while birth, gape, cast and want appear soon after.
Scandinavian loans in Old English poetry are confined to the accounts of heroic battles against the Norse and others in The Battle of Brunanburh and The Battle of Maldon. Warfare and trade are two principal ways in which loans can come into languages and the Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen regularly participated in both - especially war. It comes therefore as no surprise that the lexis derived from the ON which appears in these poems is entirely martial in nature.
In Maldon we have: dreng "Viking warrior" (where it only appears here before 1066) - ON drengr "bold man, warrior" etc. (Norwegian dreng, Danish dreng; the OE equivalent was ceorl, with a shift of meaning in modern churl); griþ "truce, peace, cessation of hostilities" (OE word for a general condition of peace was friþ, and it sometimes appears with griþ in ME in the expression griþ and friþ) - ON griþ "truce, peace" (archaic Danish grid "peace", historical Norwegian grid "mercy"; note also griþlêas "violated" - ON griðalauss "truceless" - this latter word is the first known Norse loan into English); gârræs "attack" (lit. "spear-rush") - ON geirrás "spear-rush" (the compound appears to be Norse derived); ceallian “to call” where it appears as a synonym to native clypian - ON kalla. Also in this poem we have what appears to be a conscious echo of a Norse legal idiom selja sjálfdœmi "deliver self-judgement" in the OE on hyra sylfa dôm "on their own reckoning". Byrhtnoð, the tragic hero of the poem, is called an eorl in the full Nordic sense of the word.
And in Brunanburh we find the Norse word knörr "merchant ship" twice in the OE loan cnearr "(small) ship" (cf. Norwegian knarr "sailboat").
vocabulary is much less prone to survive language
change and decay, and cnearr
never had, to my knowledge, anything more than a short life within Old
poetic diction. But dreng did
survive longer, appearing in Early Middle English poems from the North
Loans in Old English prose are more numerous and frequently met. Here is a list of many of them, some of which are easily recognisable as common everyday words in Modern English, such as husband, law, and outlaw. Loans from ON into OE are sometimes for concepts or things peculiarly Scandinavian, or those things in OE for which Anglo-Norse contact altered the conception. But most simply define or describe everyday objects or concepts for which the early English already had words. The vast majority of such Norse loans are found in the late texts after 1000 AD, especially The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, where we find such Norse loans as orrest "battle", griþ (1002) "truce, cessation of hostilities" and nîðing "villain", among a number of others. Some are, however, found in earlier texts such as Alfred's Laws (880-90). Naturally many required adaptation to the OE sound and inflexional systems:
æsc "ash" - with the sense "warship" - ON askr "ash-tree; small ship"; bâtswegen "boatswain" - OE bât + ON sveinn; bôtlêas (late loan) "unpardonable" - ON bótlauss "without remedy, irreparable" (cf. Modern English bootless); brýdlôp "bridal" (the first element is native) - ON brúðlaup "bridal, wedding feast" (cf. Norwegian bryllup "wedding"); bûnda - "householder" - ON bóndi "farmer, householder"; bûtsecarl (1052 ASC) "sailor (in royal fleet), seaborne merchant" - ON buza "boat" and karl "man"; bý "dwelling" (found occasionally in ME) - ON bý "farm, homestead"; cann "cognizance" (legal term) - ON kanna; carlmann "male, man" - ON karlmaðr "man, vigourous man"; ceallian (Maldon) "call" - ON kalla (ousted OE hâtan, clipian "call, yell"); cnearr "(small) ship" - ON knörr "merchant ship"; cnîf "knife" - (probably ) ON knífr (OE used seax "short sword, knife"); crafian "demand" (late loan) - ON krefja "crave, demand, request" (cf. English crave, Norwegian kreve); crôcod (once in late 1100s) "crooked" must derive from unrecorded OE *crôk < ON krókr "hook, barb" (Serjeantson); dîegan, dêgan (late OE, Anglian) "die" - ON deyja "die" (ousted OE sweltan "die" and altered OE steorfan "die, perish" which now only denotes "starve"; ON deyja once had an OE cognate which may have given rise to ME deien but forms from 1000 onward very likely stem only from the ON form, according to Serjeantson); efne "material, matter" - ON efni "material" (cf. Norwegian emne); farnian "prosper" - ON farnast "succeed"; fêolaga (1016 ASC) "colleague, mate" - ON félagi "partner; fellow, mate"; flege (rare) "little ship" - ON fley "swift ship"; fylcian (e.g. 1066 ASC) "(to) marshal" - ON fylkja "array, marshal"; genge "troop" - ON gengi "help, support"; gærsume (1035 ASC; survived into Early ME (Serjeantson)) "treasure" - ON gørsemi "costly thing, jewel, treasure"; hâ (once, 1039 ASC) "rowlock" - ON hár; hâmele (once, 1040 ASC) "rowlock" - ON hamla; hâmsocn "the offence of attacking someone in his home" - ON heimsókn "attack on someone's home"; hâsæta "oarsman" - ON háseti; hofding (1076 ASC) "leader, ringleader" (has the latter meaning in ASC (Serjeantson)) - ON höfðingi "leader, chief"; hittan (one instance in OE meaning "come upon" in 1066 ASC Ða com Harold ure cyng on unwær on þa Normenn, and hytte hi begeondan Eoferwic) - ON hitta "hit upon, meet; strike"; hold (921 ASC) "vassal" - ON höldr (a kind of higher yeoman); hûsbûnda "householder" - ON húsbóndi "master of the house"; hûscarl (1036 ASC) "a member of the royal bodyguard" - ON húskarl "manservant; member of the royal bodyguard"; hûsting (1012 ASC) "meeting, tribunal" - ON húsþing (i.e. a thing held in a building); lagslit "breach of law" - ON *lögslit "breach of law"; lahbryce "breach of law" - ON lögbrot "breach of law"; lagu "law" (one of the most common and important ON loans) - ON *lagu, lög (npl.) - (the OE word was æ); landcop, landceap "tax paid on a land purchase" - ON landkaup "purchase of land"; lîesing (Laws) "freed man" - ON leysingi "freed man" (survives only in modern dialect as leising); lið (1052 ASC) "fleet" - ON lið "troops, host, following, crew" (OE form was lid); liðsmenn (ASC 1036) "sailors" - ON liðsmenn "troops"; loft (found once with meaning "air") - ON lopt (native OE equivalent was lyft); læst (1000s) "fault, sin" - ON löstr "fault, flaw; vice"; mâl (e.g. 1086 ASC) "suit, case, pleading; agreement" - ON mál "suit, action, case" (the word later occassionally appears in ME and appears in Modern English as -mail, e.g. as in blackmail); manslot "portion of land granted the householder" - apparently ON manns-hlutr; nîðing (c.1000; 1049 ASC se cing þa and eall here cwædon Swegen for niðing) "villain, evil man, niggard, wretch" (the word is also fairly common in ME) - ON níðingr "villain, scoundrel"; ôran plural of ôra (Danish coin) - ON aurar, OSwed. öre (cf. Norwegian øre); orrest (1096 ASC) "battle" - ON orrosta "battle" (also appears once in ME Ormulum, c.1200: orrest); rân "robbery, rapine" - ON rán "robbery; plunder, spoils"; rôt (first in 1127 ASC compound rôt-fæst) "root" - ON rót; ræfter "beam" (modern raft) - ON raptr; saclêas "innocent" - ON saklauss "innocent"; sala (one instance) "sale" - ON sala "sale"; sang (does not survive into ME) "bed" - ON sæng "bed" (cf. Norwegian seng); scægþ "warship" - ON skeið "warship, galley"; scægþmann "seaman; Viking, pirate" - ON skeiðmaðr; sceppe (reappears in 1400s (Serjeantson)) "measure of grain or malt" - ON skeppa "dry measure"; scinn (1075 ASC) "skin" - ON skinn (OE used fell and hýd "hide" to denote both animal and human skin); scoru (late OE) "a score, notch" - ON skor (cf. ON skora "score, make a notch, tally", related to OE verb scieran "incise, score with a point"); snacc "small vessel, war-ship" - ON snekkja "swift ship"; sparrian "bar" (ME sparren, sperren) - ON sparra "spar, bar"; stefnian "summon" - ON stefna "summon, call"; tacan "take" (1072 ASC) - ON taka (ousted OE niman "take" during the ME period); taper-æx (e.g. ASC 1071) "small axe" - ON tapor-øx "small axe"; targe (late OE) "small shield, buckler" - ON targa "small round shield"; tîdung "news, tidings" - ON tíðindi "news, events, tidings"; til (Northumb.) "till" - ON til; þênest, þegnest "service" - ON þjónusta "service" (cf. Norwegian tjeneste, German Dienst); þêonestmen "retainers" - ON þjónostumenn "retainers, servants"; þîr "female servant" - probably ON þírr "female slave, maidservant"; þriðing "third part (of a county), riding" - ON þriðjungr "third, third part"; þræl "thrall, slave" - ON þræll; ðweng "band" - ON þveng "thong"; unlagu "violation of law, injustice" - ON úlög "breach of law"; ûtlaga "outlaw" (common term in later OE) - ON útlagi (note derived OE verb ûtlagian "to outlaw"); wælrêaf "plunder from the slain" - (probably) ON valrof, valrauf "plunder from the slain"; wæpengetæc (Laws) "wapentake" (division of a riding) - ON vápnatak "the grasping or brandishing of weapons"; wîcing "pirate, viking" - ON víkingr "man of the fjords"; wiþermâl (1052 ASC) "counter-plea" - ON *viðr-mál "counter-plea"; witter (once in 1067 ASC; common in ME) "wise" - ON vitr "wise"; wîtword "written evidence, proof" : ON vitorð "knowledge, privity";
Serjeantson makes a fascinating observation which is worth mentioning here. She points out that in OE þæge, we may be seeing the first appearence of ON þeir "they" in English. The word appears in two OE texts, for example, in the Late West Saxon Gospels as sume ðæge wæron hæðene "some of them were heathens".
When we bear in mind that Old English was remarkable for the small amount of loanwords in its vocabulary, the number of loans from Old Norse at this stage seems quite significant; it informs us of the close links between the two linguistic communities, which were not always hostile. Indeed, the borrowing of pronouns and particles from one language to another seldom occurs, and yet perhaps OE and certainly ME borrowed these elements from Old Danish or Old West Norse. When we recall that in they are both the pronoun and verb form are Scandinavian (ousted OE (West Saxon) hie syndon), we realize how intimately the language of the Norse invaders affected English.
2 - MIDDLE ENGLISH*
i) Everyday words
a (ME) "river, stream" : ON á "river" (cf. Norwegian å "river"; form argues against derivation from OE êa "river"); addlen (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "earn" : ON öðlask "gain, procure" (survives in dial. addle "earn, procure" - see below); algate "in every way" (ME c.1225: algate, other forms allegate, algates) : ON alla götu "always" (-s adverbial suffix is native); allesamen (ME) "altogether, everyone together" : ON allir saman "all together" (cf. Norwegian alle sammen "everyone"); aloft (ME Ormulum, c.1200: o loft) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON á lopti "above, aloft"; anger (ME c.1250 anger, angre) : Scandinavian source corresponding to ON angr "grief, sorrow"(ousted OE words grama and irre); attlen (Brut, c.1250) "think, intend; go" (now only in dial. ettle) : ON ætla "intend, propose"; awe (ME c.1200: aghe, 1250: age): ON agi "fear; unrest" (ousted OE ege "awe, fear"); awkward (ME pre-1400: awkward, awkwart) : ON öfug- "reversed, facing the wrong way" + Eng. -ward; axle (ME 1290, in the compound axeltre "axletree", ME 1368: axle) eaxl "shoulder" is known in OE but the modern word is probably from the ON loan öxultré (hence axeltre above) from öxull "axis, axle" and tré "tree"; bag (ME pre-1200: bagge) : ON baggi "pack, bundle"; bait (n) "food to entice animals" (ME c.1300: bait) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON beita "food, especially that which entices prey, bait", beit "pastureland"; the verb dates from c. 1300 (Barnhart); band "strip of material" (ME 1126: band, a dialectal variant of bond) - this was a combination of a Scandinavian word corresponding to ON band "bond, fetter; cord" and Old French bande "strip", originally from Germanic (Barnhart); bank (ME c.1200: banke) : probably from ON banki, bakki "bank, ridge, mound"; bark "outer layer of a tree" (ME c.1300: bark) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON börkr "bark", Mainland Scandinavian bark "bark"; bask (ME 1397: basken "wallow in warm water") : ON reflexive baðask "bathe oneself"; bennk, binc (ME; now only in dial. benk, bink - see below) "bench, shelf" : ON bekkr "bench" (preservation of the -k proves this ME and dial. form to be Scandinavian and not derived from OE benc, from which the Modern Standard English form derives); bî (ME c.1315) "town" : ON býr "farm, homestead"; bigg (ME early 1300s) "dwell; build" : ON byggja "colonise, populate, dwell, settle" (now only dial. bigg); birth (ME 1170: burth, 1200: burthe, burde): ON byrð "birth, descent" (ME ibirde from OE gebyrd was ousted); bleak (ME 1300: bleike): ON bleikr "pale, whitish" (blâke from OE blâc is found in ME but gives way to the Scandinavian form); bloom (ME 1200: blom, blome): ON blómi (native were OE blôstm, blôstma > blossom); bloute (ME Havelok, c.1275) "soft" : ON blautr "soft"; bondeman (ME and eModE) "male slave" : ON bóndamaðr (with a different meaning to the ME word; cf. Norwegian bonde "farmer, peasant", (archaic) "master, husband"); boon (ME bôn) "prayer, boon" : ON bón "request, petition" (cf. OE bên "request, prayer"); booth (ME 1200: bothe (recorded earlier in ME place-names)): ON búð "shop"; booty (ME 1474: botye) : ON býti "share" (býta "divide"); both (1124: bathe, 1225: bothe): ON báðir; bound for "ready to go" (ME Ormulum c.1200: bûn, pre-1400: bownde) : ON búinn "prepared, ready", ODan. bôen "ready, prepared"; brâþ (ME c.1315) "violently" : ON bráþr "sudden, hasty"; bread (by ME c.1200 bread had the modern meaning) : ON brauð (OE brêad meant "crumb, fragment" - OE used hlâf to denote bread); brennen (1137) "burn" : ON brenna "burn" (cf. OE bærnan, biernan "burn"; cf. Norwegian brenne); brô (ME c.1250) "eyebrow" : ON brá; brodd (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "spike" : ON broddr "point, spike"; brink (ME 1225: brinke) : ODan. brink (ON brekka) "verge, brink"; brunie (ME; Brut, c.1250: brunie; - now only found in archaic Scots. byrnie) "corslet, mailshirt" - ON brynja (OE form was byrne); boulder (ME Havelok, c.1275 bulder(ston)) "stone" : cf. Swedish bullersten "stone in a stream which makes a roaring noise from the rushing water" - compound of bullra "roar" and OE stân "stone" (Barnhart) ; bull (ME bule) "bull" : OEast Norse bule; bulæxe (ME) - ON bol-øx "wood-axe"; bylaw "secondary law" (ME 1257: birelage, 1280: bilage, 1370: bilawe) : ON býjar-lög "local ordinance" (modern meaning appeared in 1541); cake (ME c.1220: kake "flat cake, flat loaf") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON kaka "cake", Modern Norwegian kake, Modern Danish kage "cake"; calf (ME pre-1325: calf) "hind of the leg below the knee" from ON kálfi "calf of the leg"; call (ME 1200: callen, kallen) : ON kalla (ousted OE hâtan, clipian); carl(e) (known in OE in compounds and post-ME period only in English dialects meaning "rustic" - see below) "man, chap" : ON, ODan. karl "man, man of the people" (cf. Norwegian kar, Swedish karl "fellow, chap"); carling, carline "fore-and-aft beam in a vessel, used for supporting the deck" from ON kerling "old woman, hag"; carp (ME c.1225: carpen "talk, converse") now "complain, find fault" is a Scandinavian loan, cf. ON karpa "boast", karp "boasting, bragging"; cast (ME c.1200: casten) : ON kasta "throw" (ousted OE weorpan "throw, cast" cf. German werfen, Dutch werpen but was later largely pushed out by throw from OE þrâwan); clip "trim, cut" (not "fasten") (ME Ormulum, c.1200: clippen) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON klippa "clip, cut", Modern Icelandic, Modern Swedish klippa "cut, shear", Norwegian klippe "cut, clip"; coupe (ME Havelok, c.1275) "buy, purchase" : ON kaupa "buy" (cf. OE ceapian "bargain, trade, buy", Norwegian kjøpe); crawl (vb.) "move slowly along the ground on one's hands and knees" (ME c.1200: crewlen, pre-1400: crawlen) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON krafla "make a pawing movement with the hands", Modern Danish, Norwegian kravle "crawl, creep; swarm"; crook (ME pre-1200: crôk "evil device") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON krókr "hook, bend", Norwegian and Swedish krok, Danish krog "hook, bend, curve, nook"; cut (ME pre-1300: cutten, kitten and early dial. forms cutte, kitte, kette point to OE *cyttan, probably a Norse loan) : cf. Icelandic kúti "small knife", Norwegian kutte "cut" (Norse word ousted OE snîðan "cut, slice" and partly ceorfan which survives as carve); cweld (ME) "evening" : ON kveld "evening" (cf. Norwegian kveld "evening"); derf (ME c.1250) "bold" : ON djarfr "bold, daring"; dil (ME c.1315) "conceal" : ON dylja "hide" (cf. Nynorsk dylje, dølje, Norwegian dølge); dirt (ME pre-1300: drit, drytt, 1425: dert, 1434: dyrt) : ON drítr "dirt, dung" (cf. Norwegian drit "rubbish"); dirty (ME c.1425: dyrty, from earlier dritty (pre-1400), from ME drit + y) - see dirt above; down "soft feathers" (ME 1345-49: doune) : ON dúnn "down, bed of down"; drag (late ME 1440: draggen "draw, pull") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON draga "pull, draw, drag", but possibly a dialectal variant of ME drawen "draw" from OE dragan "draw, drag"; dream (ME 1250: drem) : ON draumr "dream" (OE drêam meant "joy"); dregs (ME 1378: dregges) : ON dregg “sediment”; dreng (ME; Brut, c.1250: dring, Havelok, c.1275: dreng) known from late OE - see above) "doughty young man" : ON drengr "bold man; fellow; attendant" (cf. Danish dreng "boy", Norwegian dreng "farmhand", (archaic) "brave young man"); drepen (ME Havelok, c.1275) "kill" either from ON drepa "kill, strike, beat" or OE drepan "strike, kill"; drip (ME c.1300: drippen “drop down”) : cf. ON dreypa “let fall in drops”; droop (ME 1300: drupen, 1333-52: droupen) : ON drúpa "droop (from sorrow)"; drown (ME c.1325 drounen, drunen) : may be from a Danish equivalent to ON drukna "drown"; egg (ME 1340: eg, 1366: egge) : ON egg (defeated OE parallel æg which appeared in ME as ei); egg "to incite" is according to Serjeantson already known in the OE loan from Norse eggian but I cannot corroborate this. Other authorities have ME c.1200: eggen from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON eggja "incite, whet"; farcost (ME) "boat; circumstances" : ON farkostr "vessel, ship"; fellow (ME 1250: felawe) : ON félagi "partner, comrade" (already recorded in OE as fêolaga); fîken (ME c.1225) "hurry about" : ON fíkjast "desire, yearn for"; fisk (ME) "fish" : ON fiskr (cf. Norwegian fisk; Modern English form derives from OE fisc, cf. German Fisch); flat (ME 1300: flat) : ON flatr "flat, level"; flit (ME pre-1200: flutten “convey, move, take”, flitten ME King Horn (c.1225) "flit about") : ON flytja "carry, convey”; fo, fa (ME) "get, obtain, attain" : ON fá "take; get gain, win" (cf. Norwegian få); fog (1554 but clearly much older) probably from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON fok "snow flurry", fjúk "drifting snow storm", Norwegian fokk "drift", Danish fog "drift, drifting snow"; frastys (ME early 1300s) "tempt" : ON freista "tempt"; frest (ME Havelok, c.1275) "delay" : ON frest "delay, respite"; fro (only in phrase to and fro; ME 1325: fra, fro) : ON frá "from"; frost (ME pre-1475: forst, frost) : ON frost; froþe (ME c.1300) "froth" : ON froða "froth"; gain (ME 1473: gayne) : ON gagn "advantage, profit"; gait (late ME c.1450: gait, gate “walking, departure, journey”) : cf. ON gata “way, road, path”; gaite (ME) "goat" : ON geit "goat" (cf. Norwegian geit; Modern Standard English form comes from OE gât as indicated by the dipthong); gal (ME) "mad, foolish, crazy" : ON galinn "mad, wild; bewitched" (cf. Norwegian gal); gap (ME c.1325: gap) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON gap "chasm, empty space" (related to ON gapa "gape"), Modern Norwegian gap "wide open mouth; gap, chasm"; gape "stare with mouth open, yawn" (ME 1250: gapen) : ON gapa "gape"; garen, geren (ME c.1250) "prepare, do, cause" : ON gøra "do, make"; gasp (ME 1393: gaspen) : ON geispa "yawn"; gaze (ME c.1395: gazen “stare”) : cf. ON gá to heed; gere (ME early 1300s) "equipment, army" : ON gørvi "gear, apparel"; gestning (ME c.1250) "entertainment, feast" : cf. OSwed. gästning; genge (ME Havelok, c.1275) "retinue, household) : ON gengi "help, support"; get (ME 1200: geten) : ON geta "be able to" (OE cognate gietan only occurred in compounds in OE); gêten (ME Havelok, c.1275) "watch, guard" : ON gæta "watch, take care of, guard"; gift (ME 1250: gift) : ON gipta "gift; good fortune" (OE form would given modern *yift); gill (mainly Northern dialect) "ravine, gorge" : ON gil; girth (ME c.1300: gerth "belt used in husbandry") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON gjörð "girdle, belt"; the modern meaning first appears in 1664 (Barnhart); give (ME c.1200: gifen (pre-1130: yiven, yeven is from the native OE source West Saxon giefan "give" (OE c.725))) the gutteral g in the form of 1200, the form from which the modern word is descended is the result of Scandinavian influence, cf. ON gefa, Old Swedish giva "give, grant", whose form spread from the north during the ME period; glint alteration of earlier c.1380 glenten “gleam, flash” : cf. Swedish dial. glinta “slip, shine”; glitter (vb.) (ME c.1375: gliteren "flash, sparkle") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON glitra, glita "glitter, gleam"; greiþen (ME) "prepare" : ON greiða "make, get ready"; guess (ME 1303: gessen) : cf. OSwed. gissa, ODan. gitze, related to ON geta "be able to, get, guess" (cf. ON noun geta "guess, conjecture"); gæte(læs) (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "careless" : ON gæta "heed, attend to"; hansel (ME early 1300s) "gift" : ON handsal "handshake binding an agreement"; happy (ME 1380: happy "lucky") : ON happ "good luck" (survived in ME as hap "luck, success"); haven (ME 1200: haven, from OE hæfen "haven, harbour", probably from the ON word, and therefore the only ON nautical loan to survive into ME) : ON hafn; hâwer (ME c.1225) "skilful" : ON hágr "handy, skilful"; helder (ME - now only dial.) "preferably, rather" : ON heldr "more, rather" (cf. Norwegian heller); heþen (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "hence" : ON heðan "hence"; hething (ME early 1300s) "scorn" : ON hæðing "derision, scorn"; hilen (ME c.1250) "hide, conceal" : ON hylja "hide, cover"; hit (ME pre-1200: hitten; also found once in late OE - see above) : ON hitta "hit upon, meet; strike"; hærnes (1137) "brains" : ON hjarni "brain, skull"; ill (ME 1150: ille "morally evil") : ON illr "evil, ill, bad" (OE used yfel "evil"); immess (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "variously" : ON ýmiss "various, sundry"; keel (1338: kelle, 1410: kele) : ON kjólr; ket (ME c.1250) "flesh" : ON kjöt "meat, flesh"; kettle (ME 1338: ketil, ketel) : ON ketill (replaced ME chetel from OE citel); kevel (ME Havelok, c.1275) "gag" from ON kefli also "gag"; kid "young goat" (ME Ormulum c.1200: kide) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON kið "young goat", Modern Mainland Scandinavian kid "kid"; kick (ME 1384 kiken) : possibly derived from a cognate to ON kikna "bend backwards, bend at the knees"; kindle (ME c.1200 kindelen, kindeln) : cf. ON kynda "kindle", OSwed. quindla "kindle"; laire (ME c.1315) "clay" : ON leir "clay, loam"; leg (ME c.1275: leg) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON leggr "leg; hollow bone", Modern Norwegian legg "calf, lower leg", Modern Swedish lägg "shin"; lift (ME c.1200: liften) : ON lypta "raise"; ling (date?) "heather" (ME ling) : ON lyng "heather"; link (ME c.1415: lynke "section of a cord or rope", c.1443: "link of a chain") from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Swedish lænker "chain, link", Modern Swedish länk, Modern Norwegian lenke "chain, fetter", ON hlekkr "link"; (vb.) (ME c.1385: linken) probably derived from the noun; lîre (ME) "face, skin" : ON hlýr "cheek"; lit (now only dial.) "colour, hew" : ON litr "hew, colour" (cf. Norwegian lød); loan (ME 1175: lân, pre-1250: loan) : ON laun "reward, recompense" (cf. Norwegian lønn "wages"); loft (ME c.1225: loft) : ON lopt "loft; air, sky" (found once in OE - see above); loghe (ME Ormulum; c.1200: lôwe; word Northern/Midland ME only) "fire" : ON logi "flame"; loose (adj.) "not firm" (ME pre-1200: lowse, c.1350: loos) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON lauss "loose" (OE form was lêas); (vb.) "set free, release" (ME c.1200: lowsen, c.1325: loosen) derived from the adjective (Barnhart); low (ME 1175: lah, 1280: low) : ON lágr "low, low down, short"; lug (vb.) "pull, drag" (ME c.1375: luggen "move heavily", c.1390: loggen "pull, drag") from a Scandinavian source, cf. Modern Swedish lugga, Modern Norwegian lugge, both "pull by the hair"; lurk (ME 1300 lurken, lorken, older *lusken) : cf. Danish luske "slink, sneak about, prowl" from MLG lûcshen "lie hidden"; mâl (ME Ormulum, c.1200: ) "speech, payment" : ON mál "suit, action, case"; may (ME Brut, c.1250) "maiden" : ON mey "girl" (also OE mæg "kinswoman"; Norwegian mø); meek (ME 1200: mêok) : ON mjúkr "soft, mild" (cf. Swedish mjuk "soft"); mire (ME 1300: muir, 1338: myre) : ON mýrr "bog, marsh"; muck (ME c.1250: muc “filth”) : ON myki “cow dung”; muggy "humid" (ME 1390: mugen "to drizzle") : ON mugga "mist"; mun (ME) "mouth" : ON munnr "mouth" (cf. Norwegian munn); myn (ME early 1300s) "remember" : ON minna "remember, recall"; mynnyng (ME c.1300) "remembrance" : ON minning "memory, remembrance"; nag : cf. ON nagga “complain, groan, grumble”, dial. Norwegian nagga “gnaw; irritate”; naken (ME) "naked" : ON nøktr (cf. Danish nøgen; Modern Standard English form is from OE nâcod); naþe (ME) "grace, favour, mercy" : ON náð "grace, mercy" (cf. Norwegian nåde); nevenen (ME King Horn, c.1225; later nevnen) "name" : ON nefna "name, mention"; occ (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only; now only dial.) "and" : ON ok "and, also" (cf. Norwegian og); odd (ME 1280: odde) : ON oddi "odd number"; ôr (ME c.1250) "before" : ON âr "before"; outlaw (ME 1300: outlawe) : ON útlagi; prod 1535, developed from ME brodden (c.1475) “goad, urge” from ealier brode “pointed instrument” : cf. ON broddr “shaft, spike”; race (ME c.1300: ras) : ON rás "race; course, channel" (cf. OE ræs "onrush, attack; jump, leap"); radd (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "afraid" : ON hræddr "afraid, frightened" (cf. Norwegian redd); rag (ME 1325: ragge) : ON rögg "tuft, shagginess"; raid (ME c.1425) "military excursion" (originally on horseback) either from ON reið "ride, riding" or a Scandinavian influenced northern English form of OE râd "ride, riding, journey; raid" with an extension of meaning - which has otherwise given us "road"; raise (ME 1200: reysen, c.1250: reisen) : ON raisa "cause to rise"; rake (vb.) "gather in, sweep" (ME c.1250: raken "gather, rake") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON raka "scrape, rake"; rake "dissolute man" (ME rakel "rash" > eModEng. rakehell (1554) > rake) : cf. ON reik "strolling, wandering", Icelandic reikall "vagabond"; ran (ME; - known in OE (see above) with meaning "robbery") "spoils, plunder, loot, booty" : ON rán "robbery, plunder; spoils" (cf. Norwegian ran "robbery; booty"); ransack (ME 1250: ransaken) : ON rannsaka "search a house"; rapelike (ME c.1250) "hastily" : ON hrapeliga "hurredly, hastily"; rapen (ME c.1250) "hasten" : ON hraða "hasten"; râþ (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "counsel" : ON ráð "counsel, advice"; reef "section of a sail that can be taken in or let out" (ME c.1390: riff, emodE 1667: reef) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON rif "reef of a sail"; usage probably derived from ON rif "ridge, reef" from which our word reef (1584: riffe, riff) "narrow, rocky ridge" comes, via Early Modern Dutch (Barnhart); reindeer (ME c.1400: rayne-dere, 1408: reyndere) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON hreindýri (hrein itself meant "reindeer" while dýr denotes "animal"); OE hrân "reindeer" is identical but was ousted by the Norse form; rid (ME 1200: ruden, rudden, c.1250: ridden) : ON ryðja "clear, free up"; rift (pre-1325) “a split, act of splitting” : cf. ON ript “breach”; rig (ME Havelok, c.1275) "back" : ON hryggr "back, spine"; rô (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "quiet, peace" : ON ró "rest, calm"; roose "to praise", ros "praise" (ME; - now only in dial roose) : ON hrósa, hrós "(to) praise" (cf. Norwegian rose, ros); root (ME 1127: rot) : from ON rót “root”; roþen, râþen (ME) "counsel" : ON ráða "advise, rule, govern, command" (cf. Norwegian råde); rotten (ME pre-1300: roten) : ON rotinn "rotten, putrid" (the verb rot is however from OE rotian "rot, putrefy"; cf. ON rotna also "rot, putrefy" (Norwegian Bokmål råtne, Nynorsk rotne)); rowst (now only dial.) "voice" : ON raust "voice" (cf. Norwegian røst); rug (1551-2) “coarse fabric” : cf. Norwegian dial. rugga “coarse coverlet”, ON rögg “shaggy tuft”; rugged (ME 1300 or earlier rugged) : ON rugr cf. Nynorsk rugga "large, heavy person"; sacrabar (ME) "plaintiff" - ON sakaráberi "plaintiff"; sag (ME 1392: saggen) : possibly borrowed from Scand.: cf. Norw. sakke “slow down, lag behind”, Swed. sacka “sink down”; same (ME c.1200: same) : ON sami; sammtale (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "agreed" : cf. ON samtala "conversation" (Norwegian samtale "conversation"), að samtala "agree"; scab (ME 1275: scab) : ON skabb "mange, scab, scratch" (note also derived adjective scabby, a direct equivalent to native English shabby, which derives from OE cognate scæb); scale (ME c.1300: scale) : ON skál "(measuring) bowl"; scant (ME c.1350: scant) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON skamt, the neuter singular of adjective skammr "short, brief"; scar "skerry, cliff" (ME 1395: scar) : ON sker "skerry" (cf. ON skera "cut"); scare (ME 1200: skerren) : ON skirra "avoid"; ON skjarr "timid"; scathe (ME c.1200: scathen) : ON skaða "harm, damage, injure" (cf. Norwegian skade or ska); scôgh (ME early 1300s) "wood, forest" : ON skógr "wood, forest" (cf. Norwegian skog); scorch (ME skorken, pre-1325: scorchen) : probably from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON skorpna "be shrivelled"; scot "shot" (now only dial.) : ON skot "shot, shooting; missile"; scot (ME mid-1300s), skat (late ME/eModE dialect) "tax" : ON skattr "tribute, tax" (cf. Norwegian skatt "tax"); scowl (ME 1340: scoulen) : probably ODan. skula "scowl"; scrap : ON skrap "clatter"; scrape (ME 1225: skrapen) : ON skrapa "scratch out"; scream (ME 1175: scræmen) : possibly ODan. skræmme, ON *skræma "frighten, scare"; screech (ME 1250: schrichen, early 1300s skrîken) : ON skrækja "screech, shriek"; scrub (c. 1303) “scratch or rub oneself” : could be from Middle Low German but cf. Norwegian and Danish skrubbe to scrub; seat (ME c.1200: sete) : ON sæti "seat"; seem (ME c.1200: semen) : perhaps ON sóma "beseem", from sæmr "befitting" (cf. related OE sêman "reconcile"); seemly "proper, fitting" (ME c.1200: semlich) : ON sæmiligr "becoming"; sêr (ME Ormulum, c.1200: ) "separate" : ON sér "for or by oneself, separately"; serk (ME; - now only in Scots. sark) "shirt" : ON serkr "sark, shirt" (cf. Danish and Norwegian serk "shift, chemise"; ON word has reinforced OE cogante serc); silt (ME c.1440: silt) from a Scandinavian source, cf. Modern Danish sylt "salt marsh"; Barnhart argues for Middle Low German or Middle Dutch silte, sulte "salt marsh" - either is possible; sister (ME c.1250: sister) : ON systir (ousted OE form sweostor which appeared in ME as swuster); skath (ME c.1300) "injury" : ON skaði "harm, damage"; skemten (ME) "joke, jest" - ON skemta "amuse, entertain" (cf. Norwegian skjemte "banter, jest", Icelandic skemmta "amuse, entertain"; note also ME skenting "amusement"); skere "clear, pure" (ME; - obsolete dial. skir, skeer "sharp") : ON skírr "clear, bright, pure" (cf. Nynorsk skir, Norwegian skjær "pure, sheer"); skid (1610) "beam or plank on which something rests" from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON skíð "stick of wood" (also "ski"); skill (ME 1175: skil "skill, discrimination") : ON skil "distinction" (cf. ON skilja "separate"; - skil ousted descendant of OE cræft "skill, art" in this sense); skirt (ME 1325: skirt) : ON skyrta "shirt" (competed with OE scyrte); skulk (ME c.1200: skulken) : probably ON skolla "skulk away, remain aloof", (cf. ODan. skulkæ; Norwegian skulke "shirk"); skull (ME pre-1200: sculle) : ON skalli "bald head, skull"; sky (ME pre-1200: sky) : ON ský "cloud" (cf. Norwegian sky "cloud" - ON word marginalised OE hêofon "sky, heavens" to religious/lyrical use and OE wolcen "cloud" (cf. German Wolke) fell out of use (except in poetic and archaic welkin "sky, heavens")); slaughter (ME 1303: slaghter) : ON slátr "fresh meat" (cf. OE slieht "slaughter, murder; animals for slaughter"); slouch (1515) “awkward, slovenly or lazy man” : cf. ON slókr “a slouching fellow”; sly (ME 1200: sleh, 1303: slye) : ON slægr "cunning"; smile (ME c.1303: smylyng) probably from a Scandinavian source, cf. Swedish smila, Danish smile "smile, smirk, grin" but perhaps from Middle Low German *smîlen; snare "trap" was already loaned from Norse in Old English times (OE snearu) from ON snara "snare, noose"; in ME we find pre-1100: snear, c.1300: snare, while the corresponding verb appears c.1395: snaren - a derivation from the noun (Barnhart); snub (vb.) (ME c.1250: snibben "rebuke", c.1340: snubben) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON snubba "curse, reprove, chide"; sprint (1566) “spring, dart”, prob. an alteration of ME sprenten (c. 1325) to leap or spring : cf. ON spretta “to jump up”; squall (modE. 1719: squall) : probably related to ON skella "make a noise; break out, burst out, strike" (cf. Nynorsk skjelle "cold wind", Swedish skvala "pour, gush"); stack (n) "hayrick" (ME c.1300: stac "pile, heap") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON stakkr "haystack", Norwegian stakk, Danish stak "rick, stack"; stagger (ME c.1434: stageren, a variant of c.1355: stakeren "stagger") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON stakra, staka "push, shove; stagger", Modern Danish stavre "dodder, totter"; steak (ME 1440: steyke) - ON steik "steak"); sterne (ME) "star" : ON stjarna "star" (cf. Norwegian stjerne; Standard English form derives from OE steorra); stôr (ME; now only dial.) "strong, great" : ON stórr "big, great" (Norwegian stor); stro, stra (ME) "straw" : ON strá (cf. Norwegian strå; Modern Standard form is from OE strêaw); summ (ME Ormulum, c.1200: ) "as" : ON sum "as, like" (cf. Norwegian sum "as"); swain "(arch.) a male lover; a country youth, a rustic lad" (ME pre-1160: swein "young man, attendant") from a Scandinavian source (Scand. form ousted ME variant swon from OE swân "herdsman, peasant; youth, swain"), cf. ON sveinn "boy, servant, attendant", Modern Danish svend "fellow; swain; shop assistant", Modern Swedish sven "swain, page", Modern Norwegian svenn "youth, squire, page; journeyman" - as a personal name, Svend, Sven is still popular in Mainland Scandinavia; the now archaic or poetic sense in English of "lover, wooer" first appears c.1585 (Barnhart); swîðen (ME c.1250) "burn" : ON sviþa "singe, burn, roast" (now only in dial. swithen - see below); take (ME c.1200: taken) : ON taka (ousted OE niman "take, get, seize" (cf. German nehmen, Dutch nemen) which still occurred in the forms nimen, nemen during ME period); tangle (ME pre-1340: tangilen, variant of tagilen "entangle") probably from an OScand. source, cf. Swed. dial. taggla (Barnhart); tarn (ME) "pool, pond" (now only dial. tarn) : ON tjörn "small lake, pool" (cf. Norwegian tjørn, tjern "small lake, pond"); tattered (ME c.1340: tatrid “wearing ragged clothes”) : cf. ON töturr “rag”; their (ME 1303: theyr) : ON þeira; them (ME c.1300: them): ON þeim; theonest (ME) "service" (already loaned into OE as þênest, þegnest) : ON þjónusta "service" (cf. German Dienst); þerne (ME Havelok, c.1275) "serving wench" : ON þerna "maidservant" (cf. poetic Danish terne "handmaiden", archaic Norwegian terne); they (ME c.1200: thei) : ON þeir; though (ME 1200: thohh, c.1378: thowgh) : ON þó, þauh "yet, though, nevertheless" (cf. OE ðêah, ðêh); tînen (ME c.1250) "lose" : ON týna "lose"; tît (ME c.1315) "quickly" : ON tít adverb formed from tíðr "frequent, usual"; thrift (ME pre-1300 “prosperity, profit, savings” from ME thriven “to thrive”) : prob. influenced by ON thrift, variant of thrif “prosperity”; þrinne (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "three" : ON þrinnr "three"; thrive (ME c.1200: thrifenn, c.1300: thriven) : ON þrífa "grasp", middle voice þrífast "thrive, prosper" (cf. Norwegian trives "prosper, thrive", (dial.) trive "grab, seize"); thrust (ME 1175: thrusten "push with force") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON þrýsta "thrust, force". The noun appears in 1513 (Barnhart); Thursday (ME pre-1250: thursdei; from OE c.1000 Thurresdæg, probably a contraction influenced by the ON form) : ON Þórsdagr (OE had Þunresdæg, which would have become *Thundersday in Modern English - cf. German Donnersdag); thwart (ME c.1200: thweart) : ON þvert, neuter of þverr "athwart, converse, adverse" (Norwegian tvert "crosswise, athwart"); tight (ME 1325: tigt) : ON þéttr "tight" (cf. Norwegian tett); toss (ME pre-1450: tossen “pitch or throw about”) : possibly Scand.: cf. dial. Swedish and Norwegian tossa “to strew, spread”; trust (n) "faith, confidence" (ME c.1200: truste) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON traust "help; confidence", Norwegian trøst "comfort, solace"; (vb.) "have faith, confidence in" (ME c.1200: trusten) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON treysta "trust; make firm"; uggen (ME c.1250) "fear" : ON ugga "fear"; ugly (ME c.1250: uglike, c.1325: ugli "horrible, fearful"; modern sense not until into 1300s) : ON uggligr "frightful" (cf. uggr "fear", OE ege "awe, fear"); tome (ME; - now only in dial. toom - see below) "empty, idle" : ON tómr "empty, vain, idle" (cf. Norwegian tom); umme (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "about" : ON umb "around, about"; wandraþ (ME) "suffering" : ON vandræþi "difficulty"; want (ME c.1200: wanten) : ON vanta "lack"; wassail (Early ME 1140: wes heil, c.1200: wæshail, later: wasseyl, wassayl) : ON ves heill "be thou hale!" (could be OE wes hâl) note the derived verb ME Havelok, c.1275 wesseylen "drink healths"; waythe (ME early 1300s) "hunting" : ON veiðr "hunting, fishing"; weak (ME c.1300: wayke, c.1325: weke) : ON veikr "weak, feeble" (OE equivalent was wâc - this would have become *woak or *woke in Modern English); whisk (ME 1375: wisk, wysk “quick sweeping movement”) : ON visk “wisp”; window (ME c.1200: window) : ON vindauga (lit. "wind-eye"; Norse word ousted OE êagþyrel lit. "eye-opening"); wing (ME c.1175: wenge, c.1200: whing, 1390: winge) : ON vængr "wing" (OE used feþera); witerr (ME Ormulum, c.1200: ) "wise" (a common word during the ME period) : ON vitr "wise"; witnen (ME) "witness" : ON vitna "witness, attest"; wrô (ME early 1300s) "corner" : ON *wrá "corner, nook"; wrong (ME pre-1200: wrang "twisted, crooked", c.1250: wrong, 1325: wrong "bad, immoral") : ON vrangr "injustice, wrong"; wyterly (ME) "plainly; indeed" : ON vitrligr "wise, sensible, judicious" (cf. Norwegian vitterlig "known, obvious").
*Note that these words were merely first recorded in ME literature but no doubt were more ancient in spoken English.
**They are given in their modern forms with ME forms in brackets, where known. Some forms have not survived into Modern English and are given in their recorded ME forms.
ii) Scots, Northern and
result of the Norse input into the English
language is the large number of words in the dialects beginning sc-
The northern dialects often have [k] where Standard English has [t] and [g] where Standard English has [dj], for example thack “thatch” (ON þak), kirk “church” (ON kirkja), brig “bridge” (ON briggja).
The fact that such a frequent and fundamental part of speech as an auxiliary verb mun “must” made into the dialect vocabulary provides some idea of just how deeply Norse penetrated into early English.
The Scandinavian influence has left an indelible mark on the pronunciation of Scots and northern English. In some areas one can still hear forms such as garth “yard”, garn “yarn”, kist “chest”, kirn “churn”, skift “shift”, skelf “shelf”, skrike “shriek” and scrood “shroud”.
It is ON -au- that we find in dialectal rowk “reek” and nowt “cattle” not the OE cognates with -êa-. Norse medial -ei- contributed to the retention in northern dialects of such forms as stain “stone”, hame “home”, mair “more”, ain “own” and aik “oak”. The -oo- sound familiar in such dialect words as oot, hoose and doon (feathers) may well have been reinforced by the same sound in the Norse cognates. The lack of a medial guttural -h- (cf. knight, right) sound in Norse probably accelerated the shedding of this feature in medieval English – spellings such as dowter and rite are attested from the late 1300s onward in areas most densely settled by the Danes. Native Norse terms not attested in early English at the time of their borrowing are drengr “bold man”, gríss “pig”, kjót “flesh”, lyng “heather”, sild “herring” and elska “to love”. All these words can be found in the dialects. The words barn “child” (cf. Norwegian barn), cwen “woman” (cf. Norwegian kone), wynstra “left” (cf. Norwegian venstre), gamol “old” (cf. Norwegian gammel), gnidan “to rub” (cf. Norwegian gni, gnide), tygle “bridal” were once common to both OE and ON, but are now only found in modern Scandinavian and some of the English dialects.
According to Xandry, Westmoreland, County Durham, Cumberland, Lancashire, and Northumberland have best preserved the Norse idiom in their local dialects, followed some way away by Cheshire, Derbyshire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Suffolk.
Of the 1617 words which Joseph Wright labeled as Scandinavian in origin in his Dialect Dictionary, Xandry calculates that 40% can be traced back to ON, 24% are to be found in Norwegian dialects, while 9% and 5% are found in Danish and Swedish respectively. Of these words, Xandry reckons 220 (13.6%) are agricultural expressions, 202 (12.5%) are to do with sailing and fishing, 155 (9.6%) relate to tools, 85 (5.3%) are names of animals, 52 (3.2%) refer to people, children etc., 35 (2.2%) refer to parts of the body, and 25 (1.5%) are plant names.
Many northern words in English dialects (and Scots) only occur in isolated regions or individual counties, so it is not possible to give an exhaustive list here. Some are also obsolete. But an attempt is made below to include dialectal terms from Norse which have at least a fairly wide currency.
addle "earn, procure" : ON öðla, öðlask "gain, procure"; air "sandbank" : ON eyrr "sandbank", MDan. ør (Norwegian øyr); algate "in every way" (ME c.1225: algate, other forms allegate, algates) : ON alla götu "always" (-s adverbial suffix is native); and "breath" (ME c.1315 and) : ON andi "breath; soul, spirit" (cf. Norwegian ånd); arr "scar" : ON ørr "scar"; aund "fated, forewarned" : ON auðinn "destined" (Norwegian auden, Swedish öen); awns "chaff" : ON agnar (sing. ögn) "chaff, husks" (Danish avner, Norwegian agner); aye "always" (ME ay) : ON ei, ey "always, ever" (OE â "ever" > ME ô); bain "flexible, ready, direct" (ME early 1300s bein, bain) : ON beinn "straight, direct" (note Yorksh. bainsome "helpful, at hand", Norwegian beinsam); bairn "child" (ME 1150: barn) : ON barn "child" (partly OE bearn) "child"; bait "graze, send to pasture" : ON beita "cause to bite" (Norwegian beite); bask "thrash, beat severely" : ON (probably from Middle Low German batschen) "thrash, beat" (cf. Norwegian baske "slap", Standard English bash probably derives from the Norse form); batten "thrive" : ON batna "improve"; beck "stream" : ON bekkr "brook, stream" (Norwegian bekk); bigg “barley” : ON bygg, cf. Norwegian bygg “barley”; big, biggen "build" : ON byggja, byggva "inhabit; build" (Norwegian bygge, Nynorsk byggje); birr "force, impetus" : ON byrr "favourable wind"; blowt "soft, weak" : ON blautr "soft, weak; wet" (Norwegian bløt); brae, bree (mainly Scots.) "hillside, slope, bank; an upland area" (ME 1300s: brâ, brea) : probably from ON brá "eyebrow" or related (cf. Norwegian Nynorsk brå "eyelid", English brow < OE brû); brat "steep; sudden" : ON bráðr "sudden, hasty" (Nynorsk brå "abrupt, sudden", Norwegian bratt "steep; sudden"); brenn "burn" : ON brenna "burn" (Norwegian brenne); bro "footbridge" : ON brú "bridge"; busk "dress oneself" : ON búask "get oneself ready"; cair "drive" (ME kairen, cairen) : ON keyra "drive, thrust; ride" (Norwegian kjøre); car "pond, swamp, pool" : ON kjarr "thicket, copsewood" (Danish kær, Norwegian dialect kjerr "bog"); carle "rustic, peasant" : ON karl "man, fellow" (Norwegian kar, Swedish karl "fellow, chap"); carlin, carline (Scots., dial.) "old woman, hag, witch" first recorded in 1300s ME , from ON kerling "old woman, hag" (therefore identical in origin with carling above), cf. Modern Danish kælling "hag, crone; old woman", Modern Swedish kärring "old woman; crone", Modern Norwegian kjerring "old woman"; chaft “jawbone; mouth” (in pl.) : ON kjaptr (cf. Norwegian kjæft); cled "clothes, apparel" : ON klæði "cloth, garment" (Nynorsk klede, Norwegian klær); clegg “gadfly” : ON kleggi; crake "raven, rook" : ON krákr "crow, raven" (Norwegian kråke "crow"); dag "dew" : ON dögg "dew" (Norwegian dugg, dogg); drucken “drunken” : ON past participle drukinn; ea “island” : ON ey “island” (cf. Norwegian øy); elding "fuel" : ON eldsneyti, eldviðr "wood, material for burning"; elt "slush, mud, quagmire" : from ON verb elta "knead, squeeze" (Norwegian elte "mess, quagmire"); ert "pea" : ON ertr "pea" (Norwegian ert); ettle "intend, propose" : ON ætla "intend"; ewer "udder" : ON júgr "udder" (Danish yver, Norwegian jur); far "sheep" : ON fé "cattle, sheep; money" (Norwegian får "sheep"); feal "hide" : ON fela "hide, conceal"; fell "hill, mountain" (ME fell) : ON fell, fjall "hill, fell, mountain" (cf. Norwegian fjell); flit "move" : ON flytja "carry, convey, move" (Norwegian flytte); force "waterfall" (ME fors) : ON fors, foss (cf. Norwegian foss); frae "from" : ON frá (Nynorsk frå, Norwegian fra); frosk "frog" : ON froskr (cf. Norwegian frosk); gain "convenient, handy" : ON gagn "advantage, benefit, profit"; gape "yawn" (ME 1250: gapen) : ON gapa "gape, stare with the mouth open"; gar "make" : ON gera, gørva "make, do, construct" (Norwegian gjøre); garn, gairn vb. "to darn" and noun "yarn" : ON garn (ME garn; standard English yarn probably derives from OE gearn); garth "field, yard" : ON garðr "fence, enclosure; dwelling" (Norwegian gård; cf. modern yard < OE geard); gate "way, street, road" : ON gata "path, way, road"; gaum "heed" : ON gaumr "attention, heed" (Nynorsk gaum; cf. also English gormless from ON gaumr); gawk "cuckoo" : ON gaukr (Norwegian gauk); glatten, gladden "smooth, polish, soften" : ON *gletta (?) (cf. Norwegian glatte, Norw. dial gletten "smooth, slippery", Danish glat "smooth", Middle Dutch glad, glat); gleg "small window" : ON gluggr "window" (Norwegian glugg "small window"); glegg "clear-sighted, sharp" : ON gløggr "sharp, clear" (Nynorsk gløgg); goadick "mystery, riddle, puzzle" : ON gáta "riddle" (Norwegian gåte); gool "yellow, fallow" : ON gulr "yellow" (Norwegian gul); grice "pig" : ON gríss "hog, pig" (Norwegian gris); grum "angry, surly" : ON gramr "wroth, angry" (cf. OE gram "angry, cruel, fierce"); haaf "open sea" : ON haf "sea, ocean"; hag "to hew" : ON höggva "strike, smite, hew" (cf. Nynorsk hogge, Norwegian hugge); haver "oats" : ON hafre (cf. Norwegian havre); helder "rather" : ON heldr "more, rather" (cf. Norwegian heller); henstee "chicken runway" : ON hönsstígr (?) (Norwegian hønsestige); heppen "tidy" : ON heppinn "lucky, happy" (Nynorsk heppen); hill "cover up, wrap" : ON hylja "hide, cover"; hoast "cough" : ON hósti "cough" (Norwegian hoste); how "hillock" : ON haugr "mound" (Norwegian haug, Danish høj); ing "meadow" : ON eng "meadow, pasture"; intake “new enclosure” : ON in+taka; keek in "peep in" : late ON derived from MLG kîken (cf. Norwegian kikke); kelda "spring" : ON kelda "well, spring" (Norwegian kilde); kenning "knowledge" : ON kenning "teaching, doctrine; hallmark"; ket "carrion" : ON kjöt "meat" (Norwegian kjøt); kirk "church" (ME 1200: kirke) : ON kirkja; kirn "churn" : ON kjarni "kernel" (Norwegian kjerne, Nynorsk kinne); kist "chest" : ON kista "chest, coffin"; kittling "chicken" : ON kjúklingr "chick" (Norwegian kylling); laik, lake "to play, sport" : ON leika "play" (cf. Norwegian leike, leke); lait "search" : ON leita "seek, search" (Norwegian leite); lathe "barn" : ON hlaða "store-house, barn"; lax "salmon" : ON lax (cf. Norwegian lax, German Lachs); lea "scythe" : ON ljár, lé (Norwegian ljå); leising "freed man" : ON leysingi "freed man"; lift "air, sky" : ON lopt "air, sky; loft"; lig "lie (down)" : ON liggja "lie (down)" (Nynorsk liggje, Norwegian ligge); ling "heather" : ON lyng "heather" (Norwegian lyng); lit "to dye" : ON lita "dye"; lithe, lythe (ME lîþen; now only obsolete dial. form) "listen" : ON hlýða "listen, obey" (cf. Norwegian lytte "listen"); lop (ME loppe) "flea" : ODan. loppæ "flea" (Norwegian loppe); loup "leap, run with strides" : ON hlaupa "run" (Norwegian løpe, løype, ME loupen, Standard English lope, all from hlaupa, English cogate was OE hlêapan, modern leap); meal “sandbank” : ON melr “sandhill”; mense (ME mensk) "honour, respect, good manners" : OSwed. mænska "goodness"; mickle "great, large" : ON mikill "great, large; much" (Norwegian Bokmål meget, mye, Nynorsk mykje); min "less" : ON minnr "less" (cf. Norwegian mindre "less"); minne "lesser" : ON minni (cf. Norwegian mindre "less"); mirk "dark" : ON myrkr "darkness" (cf. Norwegian mørke; this mainly dialect word may in fact derive from OE mirce "darkness, murk"); mun "mouth" : ON munnr "mouth" (cf. Norwegian munn); mun "must" : ON munu "shall, will, must" (cf. Norwegian må "may, must"); mug "fog" : ON mugga "drizzling mist"; naut (Scots), nowt (North. Eng.) "cattle" : ON naut "cattle, livestock" (OE parallel was nêat, found in Shakespeare - now obsolete; Norwegian naut, Jutlandic dialect nød); nay "no" (ME 1325: nai) : ON nei; neave, neive "fist" : ON hnefi "fist" (Norwegian neve "fist, handful"); near, niere, nyre “kidney” : ON nýra (cf. Norwegian nyre); oast "cheese" : ON ostr "cheese" (Norwegian ost); oc "and" : ON ok "and, also" (cf. Norwegian og "and"; OE ac "but, and"); ouse "bale out" : ON ausa "to pump, bale" (cf. Nynorsk ause, Norwegian øse); ownly "lonely, dreary" : ON aumligr "wretched" (cf. Nynorsk aumleg "wretched", OE earm "poor, wretched"); quey, quee "heifer" (ME cwie) : ON kvíga "heifer" (cf. Norwegian kvige "heifer", kveg "cattle"); raun, rown “a female fish, esp. the herring or salmon” : ON hrogn (cf. Dan. rogn); rawk “sea fog, fog” : cf. Swed. rök, Danish røg “smoke”; red up "tidy, clear" : ON reiða "shift, convey; lift" (Norwegian rede opp); rig "rye" : ON rugr (Danish ryg, Norwegian rug); roose "praise" : ON hrós "praise"; roose " to praise" : ON hrósa "praise" (cf. Norwegian ros, rose); sammen "together" : ON saman "together, in common" (cf. Norwegian sammen, German zusammen); scar, sker “skerry” : ON sker “skerry”; scarn, skarn "dung, filth" : ON skarn "dung" (Norwegian skarn "dirt, filth, dung", Swedish skarn "dung, filth"); scrat “goblin” : ON skratti “devil, demon”; seng "bed" : ON sæng (found once in OE - see above; Norwegian seng); skep "basket" : ON skeppa "a measure" (archaic Norwegian skjeppe "dry measure"); skoal (Scots - recorded from 1600 onwards) "hail! cheers!" : ON skál "bowl, vessel" (cf. Norwegian skål "bowl" and also "cheers!"); skrellin "weakling, wretch" : ON skræling "native inhabitant of Greenland" (Norwegian skræling "weakling, wretch"; cf. Modern Icelandic skrælingi "barbarian"); slem "mud, sludge, ooze" : cf. Norwegian slam "mud, ooze, sludge, slime", Swedish slem "slime, phlegm"; sniggle "snail" : ON snigill (Nynorsk snigel, Norwegian snegl); spae "foretell" : ON spá "predict, prophesy" (Norwegian spå); spear "ask, enquire" : ON spyrja "ask" (Nynorsk spørje, Norwegian spørre); stang "stake, pole" : ON stöng "staff, pole" (Danish stænge "bar, pole, rod, shaft"); stithy, stiddy "anvil" (ME steþe, steþi, stiþi) : ON steði "anvil" (Norwegian ste); stive "dust, smoke" : late loan in ON from MLG stof (Norwegian støv, Danish støv); stor "large, big" (ME stôr "strong, great") : ON stórr "big, great" (Norwegian stor); stud "steer, bullock" (ME 1200: stod) : ON stútr "stud" (Norwegian stut); sum "as" : ON sem "as, which, like" (Norwegian som "as, which"); swawl "swallow" : ON svelja (Nynorsk svelgje, Norwegian svelge; Modern Standard English swallow is descended from OE swelgan); swip "likeness" : ON svipr "look, appearance" (cf. Nynorsk svip "resemblance, appearance"); swithen (also swidden and swizzen) "burn superficially, shrivel up, singe, scorch" : ON sviðna "be singed" (also nouns swidden, swivven "place in a moor cleared by burning"; cf. Nynorsk svide "burn, scorch"); tang “spit of land” : ON tangi; tarn (ME 1380: terne) "pool" : ON tjörn "small lake, pool" (cf. Norwegian tjørn, tjern "small lake, pond"); tine "to lose" : ON týna "lose, destroy" (cf. Nynorsk tyne "plague, torment; kill, destroy"); toft "homestead" : ON topt "homestead"; toom "empty" : ON tómr "empty, idle, vain" (Norwegian tom); trigg "safe, secure" : ON tryggr "faithful, true" (Norwegian trygg); udal : ON óðal "ancestral property, inheritance" (Norwegian odel; cf. OE eðel "ancestral home"); ug "fear" : ON uggr "fear, apprehension"; veesick "show" : reflexive of ON vísa "show" (Norwegian vise); wale "choose" : ON velja "choose, select, pick out" (Nynorsk velje, Norwegian velge); wath "ford" : ON vað (cf. 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© Edward Smith 2011