Old Norse Words

From The Anglish Wiki

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. e.g. were as a stand-in for husband.
  5. Sometimes, there is no word, so one may have to use multiple words to translate the Old Norse word.
  6. 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

In general:

  • 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 grammatical words:

  • 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.
  • It is sometimes said that she and the third-person singular present indicative ending -s may have come from Norse influence. For more, see here and here.
  • It is sometimes said that are, the plural present indicative of be, is a borrowing from Norse forms beginning with er-. It is true that in Middle English, the are form was used mainly in the northern dialects, and its use may have been strengthened by similar Norse forms. However, in Old English, there were inherited forms such as earun and arun, which were used mainly in the Anglian dialects; the form used in all dialects was sind(on), which would now be sind (rhyming with binned and generally pronounced with low stress). In other words, there is no need to replace are, but if one were to do so, one could do so with sind.
  • It is occasionally said that came, the past tense of come, had its roots in Norse kvam, as the original past tense in OE was cōm (which would now be coom). But there is reason to doubt this; in Middle English, cam(e) forms were used mainly in the Midlands and the Southern dialects, which would be the opposite of what we would expect from a Norse borrowing. Rather, it seems that the cam(e) form arose from analogy with Class 4 and 5 strong verbs (see here for more about strong verbs).

In terms of derivation:

  • 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. Those forms are included in the list of Norse words, but the following words probably had no Norse influence since there is no known Norse cognate.
    • 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.
  • 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 obsolete native verb leese (see here for more details). In any case, if one wishes to be safe, one can simply pronounce lose such that it rhymes with nose or use leese (rhyming with freeze).
  • 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).
  • 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 the 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, and 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.
arrow streel The bowman stowed many streels in his quiver. From ME strele. Another native alternative is flone from ME flon.
Arrow is sometimes traced to Norse, but it may have been a natural development of OE earh instead.
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 much in its obsolete meaning.
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) bend The knight destroyed the man's bends with his sword. From ME bende. Binding may also be used.
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.
boulder greatstone We could not go forth, for a greatstone blocked our path.
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.
cog (as in tooth of a wheel) tooth This wheel's teeth are wooden.
cog (as in gear) toothwheel There are many toothwheels inside this clock. Based on Dutch tandwiel and German Zahnrad.
cow (as in intimidate) browbeat He was browbeaten into silence. The verb cow probably from a Norse word.
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.
cut snithe I snithed the apple into several pieces. From dialectal word. Cut may actually be from an unattested OE word, according to the MED.
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.
daze dweal I felt dwealed after being struck on the head. From ME dwelen.
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.
dike ditch The king has bidden me to build a ditch. Dike may be from Norse díki or the inflected OE form dīcas.
dove culver I saw a few culvers flying about. Dove may be from unattested OE dūfe and may be tied to OE dūfedoppa.
down (as in feathers) halserfeather This coat is made of halserfeathers. From OE halsrefeþre.
draft / draught (as in drawing) draw 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.
draft / draught (as in sketch) draw up I decided to draw up my next essay. The noun is draw-up.
draft / draught (as in conscript) arear Hundreds of men were areared in the army. From ME areren meaning levy. The noun is arearing.
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) draw out The last part of the game simply drew itself out.
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 maidenmaid).
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 set) set The service charges a set fare.
flat (as in absolute) stark He gave a stark denial to the accusation.
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.
fleet (as in swift) swift Watch out, for he is strong and swift. The adjective may instead be a derivative of the native verb fleet.
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 goan The cannonfire opened a goaning hole in the ship. From ME gonen and apparently related to yawn.
The noun referring to the disease can now be the goans.
Yawn is often traced back to OE geonian or ginian, but its phonetic development is difficult to account for.
garth clausteryard I sat beneath the tree in the clausteryard. From the phrase cloister garth. Clauster is the native form of Latin claustrum.
gate yate The guard refused to open the yate. From ME yate.
Gate has the Norse cognate gat, but may instead be from the OE plural form gatu.
gasp orthe He orthed for breath after the race. From OE orþian. Meaning narrowed here.
gear (as in equipment) yarrow My fishing yarrow is gone. From OE cognate.
gear (as in cogwheel) toothwheel The toothwheels are turning. Based on Dutch tandwiel and German Zahnrad.
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) hole Hole yourself a job. From OE geholian. One can use this for obtain if one wants not to use yet.
get (as in become) become It soon became cold. One 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.
Note that the native OE cognate gyft (which would now be yift) meant bride-price or nuptials in the plural.
gift (verb) bestow The king bestowed him with a special title.
gill (as in fish gill) chy A fish can breathe underwater thanks to its chies. From OE cīan (plural).
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) eithe The eithe is drawn by the tractor. From ME eithe. 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.
hoarse hose He spoke with a hose voice. From OE hās. Hoarse is sometimes said to be from unattested Norse hārs (variant of hāss), but the MED attributes it to an unattested OE variant hārs. The variant with r also appears in Middle Dutch.
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. An alternative is man, though, while this is natural for a male human in standard English, the word man is often broadened to gender-neutral meaning of person in Anglish.
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).
kidnap forsteal The princess was forstolen last night. From OE forstelan in its meaning of abduct.
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. From ME e and OE ǣ.
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.
like (as in alike) lich We are of lich minds. Native form shown in the related noun lich meaning corpse.
Like may be from Norse líkr or inflected OE forms such as gelīcne and gelīcre.
likely liefly How liefly is it that the coin will land on heads? From OE gelēaflic meaning credible.
ling (diminutive suffix) ock The townsfolk often go to that hillock. Found in hillock. Pronounced /ək/.
linger linge I ended up lingeing at the inn for a few hours. From ME lengen. The /g/ in linger is probably from Norse lengja.
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.
luggage fareload Could I help you bear your fareload? Roughly based on German Reisegepäck.
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.
muck (as in filth) filth Clean up that filth on the floor at once.
muck (as in mud) horrow I fell on a puddle of horrow. From ME horwe, variant of hore (one can use hore instead).
muck (as in dung) dung The farmer used dung as fertilizer.
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 clot Look what you have done, you clot! Clod may also be used.
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.
To refer to the steering rudder specifically, one can use steerrudder based on German Steuerruder.
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.
perhaps weeningly She was weeningly the fairest of them all. Based on OE wēnunga. Also used to replace archaic mayhap.
Maybe can be used, but generally only in front or end position.
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.
rig (nautical) shride How many ships have been shrided with new sails? From one meaning of ME shriden (clothe).
rig (as in arrange for operation) dight The stage was dighted with a new loudspeaker. Now a literary word.
rig (as in construct hastily) throw together I quickly threw together a shelter.
rig (as in clothe) clothe The soldiers were clothed in fresh green uniforms. The noun is simply clothing.
rig (as in device) set-up There is something wrong with your set-up.
rig (as in truck, lorry) loadwain A ton of loadwains were parked outside. Based on German Lastwagen.
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. From dialectal word.
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.
seek seech I seech the truth. Native form shown in beseech.
Seek may be from Norse sǿkja or from inflected OE forms such as sēcst and sēcþ.
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?
skinny (as in very thin) mair You look mair in that dress. From OE mæger. Lean and thin can be used, but with different connotations.
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.
skulk (as in hide) mithe I sense that someone is mithing behind that tree. From OE mīþan meaning hide.
We can also convert mithe to a noun meaning group of foxes.
skulk (as in avoid duty) mithe There will be no mithing allowed in this workplace. Meaning also extended here.
skulk (as in move steathily) slink The fox slunk through the forest.
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 smark I smarked upon seeing her. Based on the OE variant smearcian. OE smercian became smirk, which now has a negative connotation.
ME had underlaughen, probably a calque of Latin subrīdeō.
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.
string stringe One can control this puppet with its stringes. From OE cognate. The current form is from Norse strengr, according to Henry Sweet.
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. Later forms may have been influenced by Norse þōrsdagr.
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 woak He is woak both physically and mentally. From OE wāc. Weaken and weakling are then woaken and woakling.
wheeze snast The woman could not stop snasting. From ME fnasten, with change of fn to sn (as seen in sneeze). Meaning extended here.
whir drone I heard a helicopter droning in the air.
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 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.
gill (as in ravine) clough I glided through the clough for a while. Now a dialectal word.
gill (as in brook) brook He has lain by the brook for hours.
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.
harnpan headbone What is inside your headbone, anyway?
harns brains The old man knocked their brains out.
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.
mickle much That elephant is such a much beast. From obsolete meaning of large. The opposite of little.
Mickle may be from Norse mikill or inflected OE forms such as micles and miclum.
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.
scaw headland Many castles are built on headlands.
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.
wale (as in choice) kir One must think carefully about one's kirs. From ME kire.
wale (as in choose) choose I may have chosen poorly.
whin (as in gorse) gorse The creature leapt into the gorse shrubs.