Old Norse Words
A few Old Norse words are commonly used in our current speech. For example, take and skull come from Old Norse. Even give and get show Old Norse influence since their Old English forms used not /g/ but /j/; the change in consonant is due to influence from the Old Norse forms.
Some Anglishers see Old Norse words as foreign influence and so wish to use their equivalents passed down from Old English instead, whereas others are open to Old Norse words for a few different reasons, the main one being that they are still Germanic and thus do not conflict with Anglish's main goal. This page lists out New English equivalents that one can use however one wishes.
Note that some words are originally from Old English, but later became influenced in meaning by their Old Norse equivalents. For example, -ling was used in Old English, but its diminutive meaning was small. That its diminutive meaning rose in Middle English is generally thought to be due to Old Norse influence. Whether this influence is acceptable depends on one's tastes, but here, this use of -ling will not be treated as English.
There are a few different ways to come up with New English equivalents:
- Since English and Old Norse are both Germanic speeches, they naturally have cognates. For example, stoup has the Old English cognate stēap, and so we can use steap, the expected modernization of the Old English word.
- Some cognates also differ only on whether palatalization happened. For example, get is from the Old Norse word, since the expected reflex of the Old English cognate (which had undergone palatalization) would show /j/ instead of /g/. Hence, Germanic words having /ʃ/, /tʃ/, /j/, or non-initial /dʒ/ are very likely to be native, e.g., shirt, churl, yield, bridge.
- Sometimes, cognates later diverged in meaning. For example, skirt is the Old Norse cognate to shirt and meant the same thing as shirt, but when the word entered English, it later changed meaning, and so we cannot use shirt to replace skirt now.
- Some words have no cognates, one reason being that the Norse word was a Norse formation. For example, husband is a North Germanic formation and so is not found in West Germanic. In this case, a native equivalent, whether from Old English or from New English, must be sought after.
- Sometimes, there is no word, and unless one wants to make new words, one simply has to use multiple words to translate the Old Norse word. For example, gait can be replaced with the phrase way of walking, unless one wishes to make a new word such as walkwise.
- The usual techniques for making Anglish words apply. That is, we can bring back old words and maybe give them a new or extended meaning, or calque words from other Germanic speeches.
It should be noted that some words said to be of Norse root formally match what their English cognates would be if they had been naturally inherited from Proto-Germanic. A few examples:
- The Proto-Germanic forebear of thrive would have yielded OE þrīfan, which would then have become thrive.
- Sale entered Old English as sala through Norse; the native word would have been salu. Of course, both native salu and Norse sala would yield modern sale.
Only through consideration of other factors are these words said to be Norse borrowings (and even then, some scholars may think differently). Hence, these words are translated here with native equivalents.
Incidentally, the word Norse is not from Norse but from Dutch. A native equivalent that we can come up with is Northmannish, based on how we use Northman to mean Norseman.
Words not listed
Notably, the third-person plural pronouns currently used come from Old Norse and replaced the native set. For more information on what the native pronouns would now be, see here.
- Norse words (originally) referring to Norse concepts such as hersir, berserk, and saga are generally deemed acceptable, since it is natural to borrow a foreign word to refer to a foreign thing.
- Words historically related to the Danelaw such as wapentake and riding (as in administrative district) are also not translated here.
- The same goes for place names that came from Old Norse or have Old Norse words, e.g., Slaithwaite, in which thwaite is from Old Norse.
- Norse words that died off at some point in Middle English are not translated since this list is about translating modern Norse words.
In terms of derivation:
- The OE word arwe (arrow) is sometimes seen as a Norse borrowing, since arwe is a relatively rare word in Old English (a more usual word for arrow was strǣl) and begins to be attested around the 11th century. However, it is attested in places where Norse influence would not normally be expected, and it is possible for OE earh (naturally inherited from Proto-Germanic) to have developed into arwe (showing natural loss of h).
- The general word for bread in Old English was hlāf (which became loaf). That bread later became the main word to refer to the food may have been helped by the Norse cognate, but it should be noted that OE brēad (a rare word meaning piece) already had that meaning, and the same development of loaf and bread has occurred in the German cognates Laib and Brot. Presumably, the sense evolution went like this: piece > piece of bread > bread.
- The etymology of gun is uncertain. One common etymology is that it was a shortening of Gunilda, the name of a specific ballista in Windsor Castle, and the name comes from the Norse name Gunnhildr. Since the word may have been gotten from a Norse name (and derivations from foreign names are commonly deemed acceptable), no attempt to substitute it is made here.
- The use of main as an adjective meaning principal was at best strengthened by the Norse cognate; in Old English, it (as a noun meaning might, strength) was often used as the first element of compounds (to the point that it often was nothing more than an intensifier), and it is from this use that main began to be used as an adjective. It is easy to see how the original meaning of strong, mighty gradually shifted to principal.
- Stint is occasionally said to have gotten its current meaning from Norse influence, as the OE word styntan meant make blunt, dull. However, the OE derivatives āstyntan and gestyntan also meant stop, and so the current meaning could have been due to a natural change in meaning, or was simply unattested in OE.
- Whoredom is traced back by some to Norse hórdómr, but it may as well be a native formation, as both whore and -dom are native, and -dom can be used to denote condition or domain, so it is deemed to be a native word.
In terms of phonetic development:
- Some words show an unpalatalized form that have sometimes been attributed to Norse influence, but the form may have arisen from certain inflectional forms that naturally showed no palatalization.
- seek - the usual form would be seech, as seen in the derivative beseech. However, seek can be gotten from OE sēcst and sēcþ.
- like (as in alike) - the usual form would be lich, as seen in the related noun lich (corpse). However, like can be gotten from forms such as OE gelīcne and gelīcre.
- mickle (dialectal word for large) - OE micel yielded ME muchel in certain dialects, which was then shortened to much. But mickle can be gotten from forms such as micles and miclum.
- begin - the OE infinitive beginnan had /j/ and so would yield modern beyin. However, the past tense begann and the past participle begunnen showed no palatalization.
- carve - the usual reflex of OE ceorfan would be cherve or charve. But the past plural curfon and the past participle corfen showed no palatalization.
- dike - OE dīc (nominative singular) yielded ditch. But the OE plural was dīcas, which showed no palatalization; a similar distinction was present in OE geat and the plural gatu; the former had /j/, but the latter /g/, and it is from the latter that we get the modern form gate.
- The verb lose is said to have come from OE losian, but the expected modern form would rhyme with nose. It is likely that it was influenced by loose, which is Norse and is similar in meaning. A less common theory for the current pronunciation is that it is from the OE verb lēosan (see here for more details).
- The suffix -ly is said by some to have been due to influence from Norse -ligr, as OE -lic (with a palatalized consonant) became -lich in southern ME dialects. However, it is perfectly possible that ch was lost over time because the suffix was naturally unstressed, and this development can also be seen in every (ME everich). Hence, that the suffix became -ly is deemed here to have been a native development.
- Root (as in turn up with the snout, rummage) is from OE wrōtan, but the expected spelling of the modern word would be wroot (showing a historical /wr/ cluster), even though both words would sound the same now. Since words that originally had /wr/ (which was lost in the standard speech in Early New English) still keep it in their current spelling, it is said that the current form of root is likely from influence of the unrelated Norse borrowing root meaning part of a plant; the verb could be interpreted in some contexts to mean dig up by the roots. Hence, to undo this, one simply has to spell the native root as wroot.
- The word yea is native, since it is from OE gēa, but the modern pronunciation is odd, as it would normally rhyme with sea. There are very few words that are spelled with <ea>, but are now pronounced with /eɪ/, e.g., great, break. It is very likely that the vowel in yea did not shift, because it was generally used alongside nay, which is from Norse. Hence, if it had not been for nay, it is likely that yea would have come to rhyme with sea instead of lay. Hence, if one wants to use an uninfluenced pronunciation of yea, one ought to have it rhyme with sea.
Standard Norse words
In this list, only one English word is given to replace the Norse word, but it should be kept in mind that there may be other English alternatives. Some alternatives may be listed in the Notes section.
- PST - past tense
- PTCP - past participle
- OE - Old English
- ME - Middle English
- MED - Middle English Dictionary
|Norse word||English word||Example sentence||Notes|
|across (as in to the other side of)||over||I jumped over the river.||One alternative is through.|
|across (as in at the other side of)||over||What do you think lies over the mountains?||One alternative is beyond.|
|ado||to-do||This is much to-do about nothing.||A- in ado is at used as an infinitive marker from Norse influence.|
|again||ayen||We shall be able to work ayen.|
|against||ayenst||The knight fought ayenst the dragon.|
|aloft||alift||The glass was held alift.||Lift (meaning air) is the native cognate of loft.|
|anger (noun)||wrath||You need to control your wrath.|
|anger (verb)||wrothen||You must not wrothen the dragon.||Wroth + -en as in fatten.|
|angry||wroth||That made him very wroth.|
|ankle||anclee||I felt something crawling on my anclee.||From ME ancle.|
|athwart||thwares||There are some towns thwares the mountains.||From OE þweores. See across for alternatives.|
|awe||ey||The audience was filled with ey at the performance.||Rhymes with clay. Awesome is thus eysome.|
|awful||dreadful||Your singing is dreadful.|
|awkward||unhandy||This machine is unhandy to work with.|
|awn||ail||This grass has rather long ails.||From ME eile.|
|axle, axletree||ax(tree)||Any vehicle with wheels uses an ax(tree).||From native cognate and ME ax-tre.|
|bag||sack||I put all the goods in my sack.|
|bait||eace||Spread the eace carefully.|
|ball||trind||I threw the trind over the gate.||From OE trinda (round object). Rhymes with grind.|
Ball may be from unattested OE beall, suggested by OE bealluc (ballock).
|ban (verb)||forbid||I was forbidden from going to the bar.||Ban meant summon in OE. Meaning of forbid likely from Norse.|
|ban (noun)||forbode||There has been a forbode on certain flights.||Archaic word.|
|band (as in binding)||bend||They put a bend around his wrist to keep him from escaping.||From ME bende. Note that band meaning strip is from French.|
|bank||stath||I see something lying on the stream's stath.||From OE stæþ.|
|bark (as in tree bark)||rind||Help me remove the rind of this tree.|
|bask||bathe||I bathed in the sun's warmth.||Bask may be from Norse baðask, but the MED rejects this etymology.|
|bat (as in the animal)||reremouse||I saw some reremice in a nearby cave.||Bat is likely an alteration of ME bakke.|
|batten (as in fatten)||fatten||Those devious merchants fatten on the poor.|
|below||beneath||What lies beneath us?|
|big||great||Which continent is the greatest?||Big may be of Norse root and tied to Norwegian dialect bugge.|
One can also use mickle, now a dialectal word.
|birth||bird||Today is the king's birdday.||From OE cognate.|
|bishopric||bishoprich||I do not know when this bishoprich was founded.||The word appears to have been influenced by the Norse cognate.|
|blackmail||blackgavel||This is an exciting tale of blackgavel and secrecy.||Based on the ME phrase blak rent. Gavel a native word for rent, tribute.|
|bleak||bloak||The scenery here looks utterly bloak.||From OE cognate.|
|blend||minge||Minge all the ingredients.||From ME mengen. Blend probably from Norse blanda (present-tense stem blend).|
OE geblende (glossed as Latin infecit) may suggest an OE weak verb geblendan meaning mix.
|bloom (as in flower)||blossom||The roses have blossomed.|
|boatswain||boatsman||I was to work as this ship's boatsman.||Meaning narrowed here.|
|bond (noun)||binding||The knight destroyed the man's bindings with his sword.||Current meanings of band (originally meaning bond) are from French.|
|bond (verb)||bind||Bind the rods with the given material.||In some uses, a paraphrase like make a binding may work instead.|
|boon||been||The new technology has proven to be a been to many industries.||From native cognate. Rhymes with keen.|
|booth||stall||Buy two tickets at the nearby stall.|
|bosky||wooded||An old man lives in a house by a wooded hill.||Bosk (a variant of bush) apparently from Norse or Old French.|
|bound (as in bound for)||heading||This train is heading for London.|
|both||bo||Bo his works are novels.||From ME bo. Rhymes with slow.|
Some trace both to Norse báþir, whereas others trace it to the rare OE phrase bā þā (formed the same way as Dutch and German beide).
|brink||edge||The country was on the edge of destruction.||An alternative is rim.|
|broadcast (as in sow over a broad area)||sow broadly||Help me sow the seeds broadly.|
|broadcast (in other senses)||send out||The show will be sent out live.||Calque of Dutch uitzenden. Noun: sendout. Adjective: sent-out.|
|bulk (as in size, mass)||greatness||The greatness of the luggage tired me out.|
|bulk (as in majority)||greater deal||The greater deal of the traffic is gone.|
|bulk (as in bulk large)||bear weight||The land's resources bore weight in negotiations.|
|bulk (as in make great)||greaten||This meal can be greatened with chicken.|
|bulky||overgreat||I was forced to bear an overgreat bag.|
|bull||far||Do you know the difference between cows and fars?||From OE fearr.|
Bull may be from unattested OE bulla, suggested by OE bulluc (bullock).
|bush||shrub||A shrub is smaller than a tree.||Probably from a variant of a Norse word.|
Bush is sometimes said to be from OE busc (found only in placenames).
|calf (as in part of leg)||sparlire||I pulled a muscle in my sparlire.||From ME sparlire|
|call||cleap||I clept out to the man.||PST and PTCP: clept.|
|cake||kitch||Kitch is better than pie.||Shortened form of ME kichel (small cake).|
|carp (as in complain)||gripe||I wish not to gripe about trivial matters.|
|cart||crat||I used a shopping crat to stow my goods.||From OE cognate.|
|cast (as in throw)||throw||Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.||Also used for cast a glance.|
|cast (as in cast metal)||yeet||One can yeet bronze to make tools.||From ME yeten. PST: yote, PTCP: yoten.|
|cast (as in cast a vote)||stell in||Have you stelled in your vote yet?||From ME stellen. Put can be used, though evidence of its OE forebear is scarce.|
|cast (as in cast a spell)||utter||The witch uttered a spell on me.||Utter is partly of Middle Dutch origin.|
|cast (as in object made by casting)||yetling||Bronze yetlings were strewn through the room.||The meaning has been broadened here, so it can refer to any object.|
|cast (as in mold used for casting)||yeetle||The model was made with a special yeetle.||Yeet + -le (suffix showing instrumentality).|
|cast (as in group of actors)||team||Which actors are in this film's team?||For film crew, we can use film staff.|
|cast (as in assign a part in a production)||stell in||The actress was stelled in the film as a dancer.|
|cast (as in medical cast)||forbinding||I had to walk around in a forbinding for a while.||Derivative of ME forbinden given a specialized meaning here.|
A plaster cast is thus a plaster forbinding.
|castaway||shipbreachling||The shipbreachling wandered around the island for shelter.||Calque of Dutch schipbreukeling.|
|clip (as in cut)||shear||The angel's wings were shorn off.|
|clip (as in graze)||shave||The truck nearly shaved my car.|
|club (as in the weapon)||cudgel||He tried to strike me with his cudgel.|
|club (as in association)||forone||Will you join the sports forone?||Calque of German Verein.|
|coxswain||steersman||This crew is missing a steersman.|
|crawl||smow||I slowly smowed to the door.||From ME smūʒen. Rhymes with now.|
|crook (as in bend)||bend||The witch bent her finger.|
|crook (as in staff)||staff||The shepherd used his staff to tend his sheep.|
|crook (as in dishonest person)||swiker||The politician said that he was not a swiker.||Based on OE swica.|
|crooked (as in bent)||bent||The man did not want to show his bent teeth.|
|crooked (as in dishonest)||swikle||Many people think that politicians are swikle.||Based on OE swicol.|
|cross (as in crucifix)||rood||Jesus was nailed to a rood.||We can have rood be a verb meaning intersect as well.|
|cross (as in go across a place)||overfare||Walk slowly as you overfare the street.|
|cross (as in cross over)||overfare||It is hard to overfare to another field of work.||We can also use this for the noun crossover.|
|cross (as in oppose)||withstand||How dare you withstand me?|
|cross (as in angry)||wroth||Be careful. James looks wroth right now.|
|crosswise||roodwise||The food was sliced roodwise.|
|cow (as in intimidate)||browbeat||He was browbeaten into silence.||The verb cow probably from a Norse word.|
|Dane||Den||A few Dens came one day to visit me.||From OE cognate. Found in Denmark.|
|Danish||Dench||I cannot understand a word of Dench.||Contracted form found in the surname Dench.|
|dash (as in rush)||braid||Upon hearing the news, I braided to the castle.||Original meaning of braid.|
Dash may be from a variant of a Norse word (seen in Danish daske) or an imitative word.
|dash (as in throw)||throw||I threw the bottle against the wall.|
|dash (as in spatter)||springe||Water was springed all over me.||From ME sprengen.|
|dash (as in shatter)||forbreak||The news forbroke the merchant's hopes.||From ME forbreken.|
|dash (as in discourage)||sadden||I do not wish to tell him, since I would only sadden him.|
|dash (as in small amount)||drop||Life here came with a drop of sophistication.|
|dash (as in horizontal stroke)||spit||I forgot to use spits in this sentence.||From obsolete sense.|
|dawn||dawing||I chose to wait here until dawing.||The verb is daw, from OE dagian.|
Dawning (alteration of dawing) is unattested in OE and may be due to influence of a Norse word, but perhaps dawing was altered by analogy with the native words morning and evening.
|die||queal||Sam quole last year in a car accident.||PST: quole, PTCP: quolen. Some trace die to unattested OE cognate dīegan, dēgan.|
Another native alternative is swelt from ME swelten.
|dirt (as in excrement)||drite||Unluckily, I stepped on drite.||Noun derived from ME driten. |
Shit can be used, but is now uncouth.
|dirt (as in earth)||earth||There is something in this handful of earth.||Adjectival form is earthen.|
|dirt (as in filth)||filth||I loathe being covered in filth.||Extends to figurative meanings such as gossip.|
|dove||culver||I saw a few culvers flying about.||Dove may be from unattested OE dūfe and may be tied to OE dūfedoppa.|
|draft / draught||drawing||I took a deep drawing of the beer.||The verb is replaced with draw.|
Sometimes attributed to Norse dráttr, but perhaps from unattested OE dreaht instead.
|drag (as in draw)||draw||The horses will draw the carriage.||Some noun senses may be better conveyed with drawer.|
|drag (as in pass slowly)||wear on||The last part of the game simply wore on.|
|drag (as in hindrance)||hinderer||His speech habits ended up being a hinderer.|
|drag (as in bore)||duller||Working for a long time must be such a duller.||Dull (verb) + -er.|
|dregs||drast||I drank the tea to the drast.||From ME drast.|
|dragnet||draynet||The fishermen here use draynets.||From ME drai-net.|
|dream||sweven||Last night, I had a weird sweven.||Rhymes with seven. Dream may be native, but simply unattested in OE.|
|droop||sink||As I grew weary, my eyelids sank.||The noun should be replaced with sinking.|
|drown||adrench||All but two of the crew adrenched in the storm.||From ME adrenchen. Drown perhaps from a variant of Norse drukkna.|
|dwell||abide||I have abided in this town for many years.||Old meaning of abide.|
The meaning of reside is probably from Norse, since OE dwellan meant lead astray.
|egg (noun)||ey||When will the ey hatch?||Rhymes with clay. Plural: eyren.|
|egg (verb)||goad||The throng goaded the man on.|
|fast (as in abstention from food)||fasten||The monk held his fasten for seven days.||From ME fasten.|
Fast may be from Norse or may simply be a shortening of fasten (akin to maiden → maid).
|fellow||thoft||He went to the church with three of his thofts.||From OE geþofta.|
|ferry (verb)||fere||I fered the men by boat.||From OE ferian. Current form seems to have been from Norse.|
|ferry (noun)||fereboat||The fereboat is docked at the port right now.||Based on ferryboat.|
|filly||marefoal||I saw a marefoal running in the field.||Based on ME mare fole.|
|fir||furrowtree||I found shelter under a furrowtree.||Based on OE furh. The current form appears to be from Norse fyri (found in fyriskógr).|
|flat (as in level)||even||The boys found some even ground for their football match.|
|flat (as in smooth)||smooth||The surface here is very smooth.|
|flat (as in dull)||dull||The man spoke with a dull voice.|
|flat (as in ruptured)||thirled||I need to fix my thirled tire later.||From ME thirlen (pierce).|
|flat (as in apartment)||flet||I moved to a flet a few years later.||Original form of the word.|
|flatfish||fadge||The other day, I caught a fadge.||From OE facg.|
|flaw (as in blemish)||wem||His scheme had a few wems.||From ME wem.|
|flaw, windflaw||windblast||I sensed that a windblast would soon come.||Flaw perhaps from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German instead.|
|fling (as in throw)||throw||I threw the stone at the river.|
|fling (as in rush)||ferk||The moody man ferked out of the room.||From dialectal word. We can also use this for fling meaning period of enjoyment.|
|flit||fleet||Last night's events fleeted in my mind.|
|freckle||splot||Her face has a few splots.||From OE splott and ME splotti. Meaning narrowed here.|
|froth (as in foam)||foam||The beer was foaming out of the cup.|
|froth (as in nonsense)||drivel||All the drivel about entertainment is boring to listen to.|
|gait||stride||The man had a weird stride.|
|gap||break||There's a break in the records between 1980 and 1983.||Some senses may be better conveyed with breach.|
|gape (as in become wide open)||yawn||The cannonfire opened a yawning hole in the ship.|
|gape (as in stare with an open mouth)||goan||I goaned at the amazing sight.||From ME gonen and related to yawn.|
The noun referring to the disease can now be the goans.
|garth||clausteryard||I sat beneath the tree in the clausteryard.||From the phrase cloister garth. Clauster is the native form of Latin claustrum.|
|gasp||orthe||He orthed for breath after the race.||From OE orþian. Meaning narrowed here.|
|gear||yarrow||My fishing yarrow is gone.||From OE cognate.|
|geld||afire||The farmer had to afire the horse.||From OE afȳran.|
|gelding||afired||The afired won yet another competition.||Afired horse can be used to refer specifically to gelded horses.|
|get||yet||I will not foryet this any time soon.||PST: yat, PTCP: yetten. |
OE cognate only in derivatives. Base yet was a rare backformation.
|get (as in obtain)||leet||Leet yourself a job.||From OE hlēotan. One can use this for obtain if one wants not to use yet.|
|get (as in become)||become||It soon became cold.||We may also use archaic worth (PST: warth, PTCP: worthen).|
|get (as in understand)||understand||I'm sorry, teacher, but I still don't understand it.|
|get (as in offspring)||offspring||What will the man pass on to his offspring?|
|gift (noun)||yeave||What a wonderful birthday yeave!||From ME yeve. Gift horse is now yeaven horse, based on Early New English given horse.|
One could use the native cognate yift, but the meaning would have to be broadened, as OE gyft meant bride-price or nuptials in the plural, though the meaning of gift is seen in feohgyft (money-gift).
|gift (verb)||bestow||The king bestowed him with a special title.|
|gilt (as in young sow)||yelt||There are a few yelts for sale.||From native cognate. Now dialectal.|
|girth (as in band)||gird||I fastened the gird around the horse.||From OE gyrd.|
|girth (as in circumference)||umbgang||He is a man of average umbgang.||From OE ymbgang.|
|git||gadling||Leave this place at once, you gadling!|
|give||yeave||I have yeaven Emily the watch that you yave me last year.||PST: yave, PTCP: yeaven. |
Note that the natural reflex of OE gefan is yeave (not yive, which seemed to be a less common variant in ME).
|glitter (noun)||spark||The spark of the jewels in the dark was pleasing to the eye.|
|glitter (verb)||sparkle||The stars sparkled in the night sky.|
|gosling||goosock||On my way to school, I saw some goosocks.||Goose + -ock.|
|guest||yest||The host warmly welcomed the yest.|
|guild||yield||It is hard to join the merchants' yield.||From OE cognate.|
|gust||blast||The beach was scoured by blasts of wind.|
|hail (as in call out)||halse||The guards warmly halsed the visitor.||From ME halsen.|
|hail (as in praise)||loave||His approach has been loaved as groundbreaking.||From ME loven.|
|hail (as in hail from)||come||I come from England.|
|happen||betide||What betided here last night?|
|happy||blithe||I like tales with blithe endings.|
|harrow (tool)||aithe||The aithe is drawn by the tractor.||From ME aithe. Rhymes with bathe.|
Harrow is possibly native; the MED traces it to unattested OE hearwe.
|harrow (as in cause distress)||tray||This has been a rather traying experience.||From ME treien.|
|haven||harbor / harbour||The ship will leave the harbor / harbour tomorrow.||May be native, but is often said to be a borrowing.|
|hit||strike||She struck the table in frustration.|
|hug||clip||The two lovers clipped upon seeing each other again.||Old meaning of clip meaning fasten.|
|hung (past tense of hang)||hing||I hing a picture on the wall yesterday.||See here for more details about hung.|
|hung (past participle of hang)||hangen||I have hangen the picture on the wall.|
|husband (noun)||were||My were often goes to the bar.||Counterpart to wife. Found in werewolf.|
|husband (verb)||speal||I want to speal my energy.||From ME spelen.|
|husbandry (as in farming)||earthtilth||The folk here practice animal earthtilth.|
|husbandry (as in conservation)||spealing||He ought to be commended for his spealing.|
|ill (as in sick)||sick||The man has recovered from his sickness.|
|ill (as in hostile)||unkind||Many people had unkind feelings about the businessman.|
|ill (as in poor)||arm||Because of his arm judgment, he has lost most of his wealth.|
|ill (as in harmful)||harmful||Fortunately, this potion has no harmful effects.|
|ill (as in ill afford)||hardly||I can hardly afford to pay for all this.|
|ill (as in evil)||evil||I would never do him evil.|
|keel (nautical)||bottom||Something struck the ship's bottom.||Note that keel as in keelboat appears to be from Middle Dutch.|
|keel (as in fall over)||fall over||A strong wind caused the boat to fall over.|
|keg||vattock||He drank a whole vattock of beer.||From vat + -ock.|
|ken (as in beyond my ken)||knowledge||Something like that is beyond my knowledge.|
|kettle||chettle||The pot should not call the chettle black.|
|kick||spornet||I spornetted the ball with all my might.||From OE spornettan. Kick may be from Norse kikna.|
|kid (as in child)||child||You're only a child, so leave me alone.||We can use youngling as a more informal variant.|
|kid (as in young goat)||titch||The titch fled upon hearing a loud noise.||From ME tiche.|
|kid (as in joke)||tease||Don't worry, I'm only teasing.||The verb kid probably originally meant make a kid of.|
|kid (as in deceive)||peach||I cannot peach myself into believing that.||From OE pǣcan.|
|kid (as in give birth to a goat)||ean||When will the goats ean?||From ME enen.|
An alternative is dialectal yean (said to be from unattested OE ge-ēanian).
|kindle||light||Find some branches to light a fire.|
|knife||sax||The man was stabbed with a sax.||Generally said to be a borrowing.|
|lapwing||lapwink||The lapwink is a common bird throughout Europe.||The form lapwing is due to folk etymology connecting lapwink with Norse wing.|
|law||ea||It is important to know what your country's eas are.|
|leg||shank||The man's shanks were very hairy.||Shank referring to part of a leg is now footshank from OE fōtsceanca.|
|lift||heave||Could you help me heave this thing?||Some noun senses may be better shown with heaver.|
|likely||liefly||How liefly is it that the coin will land on heads?||From OE gelēaflic.|
|ling (diminutive suffix)||ock||The townsfolk often go to that hillock.||Found in hillock. Pronounced /ək/.|
|link||tie||He is the weakest tie of the group.|
|litmus||dyeraw||I used dyeraw paper in an experiment.||From dye and raw (from OE ragu meaning lichen), as litmus is gotten from lichens.|
Etymologically, litmus is to dye + moss.
|loan (noun)||lean||You shall pay back your lean soon.||From OE cognate.|
|loan (verb)||lend||The earl lent the man some of his money.|
|loft (as in upper room)||sollar||Many things are stowed in my sollar.||From OE solor. Lived on in some dialects as sollar.|
|loft (verb)||rear||The ball was reared over the fence.|
|lofty (as in elevated)||uphigh||She had very uphigh ideals in mind.||From OE uphēah. High works in many contexts as well.|
|lofty (as in haughty)||prideful||You should drop your prideful attitude.||Highmoody from OE hēahmōd + -y may work as well.|
|loose||slack||Be careful, for the ropes are rather slack.||Loosen is then slacken.|
|low||nether||I live in the nether parts of this land.||Comparative is nethermore, and superlative nethermost.|
|lower (verb)||nether||I carefully nethered the statue.||ME netheren (which had the figurative sense of debase).|
|lug||heave||It was tiring heaving the sofa up the stairs.|
|meek||sheepish||Tom always looked like a sheepish man.|
|mire (as in swampy area)||slough||I lost my boots, after my feet became stuck in the slough.||Rhymes with plough.|
|mire (as in mud)||horrow||I drove my bicycle through horrow.||From ME horwe, variant of hore (one can use hore instead).|
|mire (as in difficult situation)||bind||I found myself to be in quite a bind.|
|mire (verb)||tie up||The business was tied up in debts and lawsuits.|
|mug (as in large cup with a handle)||nap||I took a sip from my coffee nap.||From ME nap. Meaning narrowed here.|
Mug is probably from a Norse word.
|mug (as in face)||anlet||What an anlet that man has!||From ME anlet.|
|mug (as in fool)||halfwit||All those halfwits believe everything that I say.|
|mug (as in attack to rob)||street-reave||Someone tried to street-reave me yesterday.||Based on German Straßenraub.|
|nay||no||If you disagree with me, say no.||Naysayer is now nosayer.|
|numbskull||thickhead||What are you thickheads dilly-dallying for?|
|oaf||clod||Look what you have done, you clod!|
|oar||rudder||The longship was propelled by twelve rudders on each side.||From obsolete sense.|
Oar is probably an early borrowing, according to the OED.
|odd (as in strange)||weird||He is such a weird man.|
|odd (as in odd number)||uneven||How many uneven numbers are shown here?|
|odd (as in fifty-odd)||ish||He has never seen something like this in fiftyish years.|
|odd (as in occasional)||unoften||They had a few unoften moments together.||Here, the adverb has been turned into an adjective.|
|odd (as in remaining)||leftover||I do not wish to be the leftover man out.|
|odd (as in mismatched)||mismatched||Why are you wearing mismatched socks?|
|outcast||outthrown||He felt like an outthrown among them.||Adjective turned into a noun. Outsider can be used, but may have slightly different connotations.|
|outlaw (noun)||wolfshead||Many wolfsheads have been seen wandering nearby.||From the phrase wolf's head.|
|outlaw (verb)||forbid||The government has forbidden the use of this chemical.|
|outskirt||outer edge||Many poor people live on the city's outer edges.|
|plow / plough||sullow||The farmer's oxen drew the sullow.||Now a dialectal word.|
OE plōg meant ploughland. Current meaning looks to be from Norse plógr.
|race (as in racecar)||rease||This will be given to the winner of the rease.||From OE rǣs. Rhymes with fleece.|
|raft||float||The castaway built a float to escape the island.|
|rag (as in old cloth)||tattick||I was bidden to wipe the floor with a mere tattick.||From OE tættec.|
|raise||rear||Rear your hand if you agree.||The noun should be rearing, but pay raise is now pay rise.|
|ransack||ripe||They riped the house looking for his money.||Now dialectal.|
|reindeer||roan||Rudolph is a red-nosed roan.||From OE cognate.|
|reskin||yeave a new hide||We yave the car a new hide.||The noun could be a new formation like newhide.|
|rid||red||I bid you to red me of those pests.||From ME redden.|
Rid is often said to have come from Norse ryðja, but some OE attestations suggest that it may be from unattested OE ryddan.
|rift (noun)||cleft||The quake opened a great cleft in the earth.|
|rift (verb)||cleave||The clouds cleaved enough to let light through for a moment.|
|rive||rend||The political party is rent by ideological conflicts.|
|root (as in tree root)||more||The love of money is the more of all evil.|
|rotten||rotted||The apple is fully rotted.||Rot is from OE, but rotten is a borrowing.|
|rump (as in hind part)||arse / ass||The arse / ass of the cow provides good meat.||A less uncouth alternative is buttocks.|
|rump (as in remnant)||bliving||The bliving of the party waited for its chance.||Formed from ME biliven. Rhymes with driving.|
|rug (as in floor covering)||footsheet||Your footsheet has a beautiful Eastern design.||From ME fot-shete. Rug is probably from a Norse word.|
|rug (as in blanket)||strail||I set the strail on my lap.||From ME strail.|
|rune||rown||There are rowns carved on this old helmet.||From native cognate. Rhymes with down.|
|sale||selling||How many sellings have you made so far?|
|same||ilk||I am of the ilk profession as Sam is.||Modern ilk is a misinterpretation of the word in Scottish use.|
|scab||shab||You ought to stop picking on your shab.||Found in shabby.|
|scale (as in the weighing instrument)||shale||I weighed myself using a shale.||From OE cognate.|
|scalp (noun)||headhide||I put shampoo on my headhide.||Based on German Kopfhaut. Scalp is likely Norse.|
|scalp (as in take the scalp of)||nim headhide||The tribesman nam the invaders' headhides.|
|scalp (as in resell)||edsell||Some people were trying to edsell tickets.||Ed- is a native equivalent of re-.|
|scant, scanty||geason||Evidence for his theory is rather geason.|
|scant (verb)||stint||You must not stint on the details.|
|scare (noun)||fright||There has been a recent fright over food.|
|scare (verb)||frighten||The children are frightened by the dark.|
|scatter||strew||The papers were strewn all over the floor.||Scatter is possibly from an unattested OE word that may be the source of shatter, with the initial consonant influenced by Norse words beginning with /sk/.|
|scold||chide||The teacher chided the children for breaking the rules.||Scold is likely from Norse. The noun would be chider.|
|score (as in twenty)||twenty||I saw twenty knights standing before the castle.|
|score (as in total points)||stand||What is the current stand for the game?||Based on Dutch stand. Standing has a slightly broader meaning in sports.|
|score (as in gain a point)||win||I barely managed to win a few points.|
|score (as in decide a score)||deem||A good judge deems each participant fairly.|
|scrap||shred||Only a few shreds of paper remain after the library was ransacked.|
|scrape||shrape||I have shraped my knee.||From OE cognate.|
|scrub (as in vegetation)||undergrowth||I see nothing but a lot of undergrowth.||Variant of shrub probably influenced by Norse.|
The attributive should be replaced with undergrown.
|seat||sess||I'm sorry, but this sess is reserved.||From OE sess. An alternative is sield from ME selde.|
|seem||look||From what I can tell, everything looks to be all right.|
|seemly||becoming||That suit does not look becoming on you.|
|sheer||shire||Your words are nothing but shire nonsense.||According to the MED, sheer is a mix of Norse skere and native shire (unrelated to shire meaning county).|
The OED also suggests that it may be from unattested OE scǣre.
|sister||suster||I have two susters.||From ME variant.|
|skep||hive||A specially made hive is shown on the shelf.|
|skin (noun)||hide||There is a spider crawling on my hide.||Fell can be used to refer specifically to animal skin.|
|skin (as in remove skin)||flay||Carefully flay the swine.|
|skin (as in scrape)||shrape||It must have been painful when you shraped your knee.|
|skin (as in become covered with skin)||grow new hide||Your wound will soon grow new hide.|
|skin (as in cover with skin)||yeave hide||Yeave hide to the wound.|
|skin (as in swindle)||fleece||Are you trying to fleece me?|
|skirt (as in the clothing)||gore||The lady's gore was pretty to look at.||Meaning taken from ME. Unrelated to gore meaning bloodshed.|
|skirt (as in edge)||edge||There is a house on the forest's edges.|
|skirt (as in go around)||go about||He chose to go about the city.|
|skirt (as in lie along an edge)||edge||There are some trees that edge the river.|
|skirt (as in avoid)||forbow||You must not forbow the issue any longer.||From OE forbūgan. Rhymes with now.|
|skill||craft||Cooking requires much craft.|
|skilled||crafty||Alfred is very crafty in cooking.|
|skull||headbone||Pirates' flags often show headbones.||From OE hēafodbān. Brainpan may be used as well, especially to refer to the braincase.|
|sky||heaven||A bright blue heaven stretched above us.|
|slaughter (noun)||slaught||He was found guilty of manslaught.||Found in onslaught.|
|slaughter (verb)||slay||Many innocents were slain in the war.|
|slaver (as in slobber)||drivel||The boy was driveling in his sleep.||Original meaning of drivel. Slaver possibly from Middle Low German.|
Drool can be used, but is of uncertain root (often said to be an alteration of drivel).
|sleight||cunning||I tricked the man with cunning of hand.|
|sleuth||hawkshaw||Victorian fiction features many different hawkshaws.||The surname Hawkshaw is of Anglo-Saxon root.|
|slight (as in small)||small||I gave it a small kick.||Slight said to be from Norse sléttr, but perhaps it is instead from OE sliht, attested only in eorþ-slihtes (level with the ground).|
|slight (as in slender)||lithe||I could not stop beholding her lithe figure.|
|slight (as in insult)||belittle||I accidentally belittled my host by not acting properly.||The noun should be belittling.|
|slightly (as in a little)||a little||The man was a little standoffish.|
|sling (as in throw)||throw||I threw a few things into my backpack.|
|sling (as in hang)||hang||I shall hang a blanket between those two trees.|
|sling, slingshot||lither||The man was attacked with a lither.||From ME lither. Rhymes with slither. Sling may be from Middle Low German.|
|slug (animal)||dewsnail||He moves as slowly as a dewsnail.||From dialectal word. Slug is probably from a Norse word.|
|sly||cunning||Foxes are generally thought to be cunning animals.|
|smile||underlaugh||I underlaughed upon seeing her.||From ME underlaughen. Smile possibly from Middle Low German.|
The native word was smirk, but it now has an unfavorable connotation.
|smithy||smithhouse||I went to the smithhouse to place an order.||From ME smethous.|
|snare (as in trap)||grin||I have set up a few grins on the field.||Now a dialectal word.|
|snipe||snite||The hunter has gone out to hunt some snites.||We can then translate sniper as sniter.|
|spoon (eating utensil)||metstick||I ate my soup with a metstick.||Based on OE metesticca.|
The meaning of eating utensil is apparently from Norse, as OE spōn meant only chip, though the Middle Low German cognate also meant wooden spatula.
|stack||rick||The thief leapt into the hayrick.|
|steak||rand||The dad put a juicy rand on the grill.||Now a dialectal word meaning strip of meat.|
|stem (as in restrict)||astint||I must astint the bleeding at once.||From ME astinten.|
|stern (nautical)||aft||The captain stood at the aft.|
|stoup||steap||I dipped my hands in the steap.||From OE cognate.|
|swain||wooer||The wooer won the lady's heart.|
|sway (as in move slowly)||waw||The wind made the trees waw.||From ME wawen.|
|sway (as in rule)||stightle||Who will stightle the kingdom in my stead?||From ME stightelen.|
|take||nim||Let me nim that off your hands.||PST: nam, PTCP: num.|
|tatter||tattick||I saw a man wearing tatticked clothes.||From OE tættec.|
|teem (as in pour down)||yeet||The rain began to yeet down on us.||From ME yeten. PST: yote, PTCP: yoten.|
|tern||seaswallow||A seaswallow flew down from the cliff.|
|tether (noun)||sole||The cow lies down by its sole.||From OE sāl.|
|tether (verb)||seal||The man sealed his horse to a nearby tree.||From OE sǣlan.|
|though||thaugh||Thaugh it is dark, I do not feel afraid at all.||Based on an ME variant. Rhymes with draw.|
|thrall||thew||The man became a thew to his desires.||Enthrall may be something like bethew.|
|thrift||spealing||Spealing is a quality that men ought to have.||Based on speal.|
|thrifty||spealsome||It is good to be spealsome with one's money.||Based on German sparsam.|
|thrive||thee||Because of its mines, the country has theed greatly.||The verb thee is pronounced /θi/.|
|thrust||shove||The man had shoved his hands into the bag.|
|Thursday||Thundersday||I shall leave this Thundersday.||From OE þunresdæg. Thursday may have been influenced by Norse þōrsdagr.|
Thursday could alternatively be treated as a native contraction showing loss of n.
|thwart (as in prevent)||stop||The knight managed to stop the evil wizard.|
|thwart (as in bench of a boat)||thoft||This boat has three thofts.||Dialectal word.|
|tidings||news||Fear not, friend, for I bring good news.||Tidings likely based on Norse tíðendi, but one could derive tiding from the obsolete native verb tide (happen).|
|till, until||oth||He waited in the park oth midnight.||From ME oth.|
|tight||fast||The ropes are a little too fast.||Fast means firm, tight, secure here. Tighten is then fasten.|
|tit, titmouse||mose||I could hear a mose chirping outside.||From ME mose. Rhymes with hose. Tit in titmouse appears to be from Norse.|
|to and fro||back and forth||It's tiresome to walk back and forth||The native variant to and from is attested in ME.|
|trust||trow||For now, I will trow you.||Archaic word. Rhymes with know.|
The MED suggests that trust may be from unattested OE trystan instead.
|trusty||trowful||I rode on my horse, my trowful steed.||Based on OE getrēowfull.|
|tug||tee||The girl kept teeing on my sleeve.||From ME ten. Tug is probably from a Norse word.|
|ugly||unsightly||He had a rather unsightly appearance.|
|Viking||Wiking||The village was attacked by the Wikings.||From OE form of the word.|
|wand||rod||Begin the spell with your magical rod.|
|want (as in desire)||list||I list to rest right now.||Archaic word.|
|want (as in lack)||gead||This house is in gead of repair.||From OE gǣd.|
|weak||woke||He is woke both physically and mentally.||From OE wāc. Weaken and weakling are then woken and wokeling.|
|wheeze||snast||The woman could not stop snasting.||From ME fnasten, with change of fn to sn (as seen in sneeze). Meaning extended here.|
|whirl||wharftle||I wharftled around upon hearing a strange noise.||From OE hwearftlian.|
|window||eyethirl||The glass eyethirl was broken for some reason.||From ME ei-thirl.|
|wing||flile||I wondered at the magical bird's fliles.||Fly + -le. Calque of German Flügel.|
The native word was OE fiþere, but it later merged with OE feþer (feather).
|workaday||everyday||You should not wear such everyday clothes.||Said by some to have come from Norse virkr dagr, but others say that it is instead an alteration of workday by analogy with words like holiday.|
|wrong||wough||Your answer to the question is wough.||Rhymes with now.|
|yowl||thout||Once I stepped on the cat's tail, it thouted.||From ME thuten, variant of theoten (one can use theet instead).|
Yowl is sometimes traced to Norse gaula, perhaps influenced by yell, but it may be simply an imitative word.
Archaic or dialectal Norse words
The following is a list of archaic or dialectal Norse words.
|Norse word||English word||Example sentence||Notes|
|ay (as in always)||always||I will always be with you.||Ay related to nay. The native cognate was OE ā, which would now be o (as OE nā became no).|
|bale (as in balefire)||beel||The night was lit up by the beelfire.||From OE cognate.|
|beck (as in brook)||brook||Some children were playing alongside the brook.|
|bink||bench||Sit down on the bench at once.|
|brig (as in bridge)||bridge||A great bridge spans over the sea.|
|carl||churl||The noble disliked being equated to a churl.||Carl is now dialectal, but it is still used in the historical word housecarl.|
|dwale||deadly nightshade||This potion is made from deadly nightshade.|
|ettle (verb)||mean||I mean to meet him tomorrow.|
|ettle (noun)||meaning||It is my meaning to travel to Norway.|
|fro||from||The insect flitted to and from.||Survives in the phrase to and fro. The native variant to and from is attested in ME.|
|froward||wayward||He is such a wayward child.|
|gain (prefix)||yen||Critics yensaid the mayor's plan.||Gain- found in gainsay.|
|gate (as in way)||way||Step out of my way at once.||Gate related to gait.|
|gimmer (as in yearling ewe)||yearling ewe||I sold my friend a few yearling ewes.|
|gowk (as in cuckoo)||yeak||I soon heard a yeak's cry.|
|gowk (as in fool)||halfwit||I made him look like a halfwit before everyone.|
|hail (as in hello)||bewhole||Bewhole, my good friend!||Based on OE wes/bēo hāl. Written as one word like the interjection begone.|
One can also use whole (attested once as an interjection in ME).
All hail can be replaced with all whole, based on ME alhol (also attested once as an interjection).
|hap||whate||May the goddess of whate smile upon you.||Perhaps can be replaced with a word like maybe.|
|holm (as in islet)||eyot||A great stone lies to the west of the eyot.||Ait used as variant. OE cognate of holm meant sea.|
|holm (as in bottomland)||bottomland||Many species live in bottomland habitats.|
|husbandman||acreman||I saw many acremen working in the fields.|
|ken (verb)||know||Do you know that man?||Ken meant cause to know in OE. Meaning of know likely from Norse.|
|kirk||church||The man made his way to the church.|
|kist||chest||I stowed my clothes in the chest.|
|laik||play||The children like to play outside all day.|
|lair (as in mud)||horrow||The two boys rolled around in horrow.||From ME horwe, variant of ME hore (one can use hore instead).|
|lait||look for||I have looked for her for days.|
|lig||lie||Relax and lie down on the bench.|
|mun||must||With the way he is dressed, he must be an important man.|
|rig (as in ridge)||ridge||The farmland here has many ridges.||Unrelated to rig meaning arrange.|
|scathe||shathe||He fled the building unshathed.||From OE cognate. Norse word still found in scathing and unscathed.|
|scot (as in payment)||shot||It's your turn to pay your shot.||From native cognate.|
|skell (as in shell)||shell||The man was holding a tortoise shell.|
|spae||foretell||The prophet foretold that he should die tomorrow.|
|staithe||wharf||A ship full of coal arrived at the wharf.||OE cognate meant bank, shore.|
|thig||beseech||The pauper besought me for food.|
|trig||tidy||Everyone here looks tidy.|
|whin (as in gorse)||gorse||The creature leapt into the gorse shrubs.|