This page lists all the words gotten from others through a process called umlaut (also known as i-mutation). An example of a word gotten from umlaut is bleed, which is clearly linked to blood. Umlaut is now a wholly dead process in English, but many remnants can be found in the present speech. Because sound changes have beclouded many of the original links, the Old English forms are given as well. All forms that are no longer used in current standard speech are put in bold. A (*) shows that a form has been reconstructed and is not attested in New English.
Note that a word such as song, notwithstanding its obvious link to sing, is not an example of umlaut; rather, it is gotten from a process called ablaut.
Also, the word umlaut itself is from German; the native equivalent would be something like umbloud, wherein umb means around, and loud means noise.
The changes gotten from umlaut can be summarized thus:
|Original vowel||Mutated vowel|
|a, ā||æ, ǣ|
|o, ō||e, ē|
|u, ū||y, ȳ|
|ea, ēa||ie, īe|
|eo, ēo||ie, īe|
- OE a before the nasal consonants (m and n) became e instead, e.g., mann (human) - menn.
- There seem to be many exceptions in which an OE word with o yielded y instead of e. The reason for this oddity is that the earlier form had u, e.g., OE gold had u in Proto-Germanic, whence the derivative gyldan (gild) did not have e.
- The mutated vowels ie and īe later changed into y (or i) and ȳ (or ī), respectively. The later forms using y will be used here.
- The change from ea to y (both long and short) was present only in the West Saxon dialect; in the Anglian dialect, ea changed to e instead. Since our modern standard speech is mainly based on the Anglian dialect, the mutated forms that we have inherited come from the Anglian variants. For example, the West Saxon verbal derivative of tēam (offspring) was tȳman (give birth), but the Anglian variant was tēman, whence our modern word teem. An exception is the word dive, which comes from dȳfan, the West Saxon variant; the unattested Angliah variant was dēfan, which is attested in Middle English as deven, but in the end, the West Saxon variant ended up becoming the standard form.
- As for eo, the change to y happened only in the West Saxon dialect. There was no such change in the Anglian dialect.
- Thus, derived forms characteristic of West Saxon are labeled WS. The Anglian variants can be inferred from those. In this instance, NE forms (be they reconstructed or not) are based on the Anglian variants (unless noted otherwise).
- In a few cases, the form of either the umlauted derivative or the original word ended up taking over the other. For example, sweat was originally the verb gotten from a noun that would have become swoot, but the form later became used for the noun as well. Here, the normal reflexes are recorded instead of the analogous ones.
Technically, the vowel change was originally not only a characteristic sign of the plural. In Old English, the vowel change was also found in the dative singular, and not all case forms in the plural showed such change. Nonetheless, this vowel change is now seen as a sign of the plural, so for convenience' sake, it is treated as such for the Old English forms.
|OE singular||OE plural||NE singular||NE plural|
|burg (city)||byrg||borough||bury (*)|
|fēond (foe)||fȳnd (WS)||fiend||fiend (*)|
|frēond||frȳnd (WS)||friend||friend (*)|
|studu (post)||styde||stud||stid (*)|
|sulh (plow)||sylh||sullow||sillow (*)|
- The umlauted plurals of oak, book, and borough had undergone palatalization in OE. Of course, it is possible that if they had survived, they would have been influenced by the consonant in the singular later on; for example, the modern umlauted plural of oak might be eak instead.
- OE brēc (which meant breeches) was the plural of the unattested brōc and later became breech. The form survived for some time, but is now wholly displaced by breeches, a double plural.
- OE brōþor (meaning brother) generally showed mutation only in the dative singular; the form brēþer was seldom found in the plural and appears to have been formed by analogy with nouns with vowel mutation in both the plural nominative and the dative singular. The mutated plural, brether, later was used with the -en plural ending, which yielded brethren, a double plural, and it is now used as the plural of brother only in some meanings.
- OE byrg lives on as bury in place names such as Canterbury. In these names, however, byrg represented not the plural but the dative singular, as many place names were often used in the dative.
- The mutated plural of cow became kye, which is still used in some dialects. In standard speech, the -en plural ending was later added, which yielded kine, a double plural, but it is now archaic.
- OE ding, a variant of dyng, was the dative singular of the unattested dung (meaning dungeon).
- OE fyrh and grȳt were the dative singular forms of furh (furrow) and grūt (coarse meal; the word later became grout).
- OE þrūh (meaning pipe or tomb) showed the expected vowel change in þrȳh, the dative singular, though it is not attested in the nominative plural. The word later became through and is found in some dialects with the meaning of horizontal gravestone.
- Woman (OE wīfmann) is etymologically a compound of wife (originally meaning woman) and man (originally meaning human), but the present form is special, as the plural shows a vowel change in the first syllable. This change, however, is not an example of umlaut. Originally, one variant of woman was influenced by the foregoing w, and the vowel later became /ʊ/, whereas another variant remained uninfluenced, and the vowel later became /ɪ/. The two variants were used together for some time before the /ʊ/ variant became restricted to the singular, and the /ɪ/ variant to the plural (perhaps by analogy with pairs such as mouse-mice).
Verbs gotten from nouns:
|OE noun||OE verb||NE noun||NE verb|
|āl (fire)||ǣlan (kindle)||ole (*)||eal (*)|
|āþ||ǣþan (make an oath)||oath||eathe (*)|
|bōt (remedy)||bētan (improve)||boot||beet|
|brord (prick)||bryrdan (goad)||broard (*)||brird (*)|
|cēap (trade)||cȳpan (WS, sell)||cheap||cheep (*)|
|clām (clay)||clǣman (smear)||cloam||cleam|
|coss (kiss)||cyssan||coss (*)||kiss|
|drēam (joy)||drȳman (WS, rejoice)||dream (*)||dreem (*)|
|ēage||ȳwan (WS, show)||eye||ew (*)|
|fām||fǣman (foam)||foam||feam (*)|
|flōd||flēdan (flow)||flood||fleed (*)|
|frōfor (comfort)||frēfran (comfort)||frover (*)||frever (*)|
|hām||hǣman (have sex with)||home||heam (*)|
|hān (boundary stone)||hǣnan (stone)||hone||hean (*)|
|hōl (slander)||hēlan (slander)||hool (*)||heel (*)|
|hramma (cramp)||hremman (hinder)||ram (*)||rem (*)|
|hrāca (spittle)||hrǣcan (spit)||roke (*)||reach (*)|
|hrōf||hrēfan (roof)||roof||reeve (*)|
|hrōp (outcry)||hrēpan (cry out)||roop (*)||reep (*)|
|hungor||hyngran (hunger)||hunger||hinger (*)|
|lāst (track)||lǣstan (follow)||loast (*)||last|
|lēaf (permission)||lȳfan (WS, permit)||leave||leeve (*)|
|lust (desire)||lystan (desire)||lust||list|
|mold (earth)||myldan (bury)||mold||mild (*)|
|morþor (murder)||myrþran (murder)||morther (*)||murther|
|ōht (persecution)||ēhtan (pursue)||ought (*)||ight (*)|
|rāp||rǣpan (bind with a rope)||rope||reap (*)|
|regn||rignan (rain)||rain||rine (*)|
|rūm||rȳman (clear up)||room||rime|
|sāl (rope, cord)||sǣlan (fasten with a cord)||sole||seal|
|scand (shame)||scendan (disgrace)||shand (*)||shend|
|scrūd (clothing)||scrȳdan (clothe)||shroud||shride (*)|
|sōþ (truth)||sēþan (prove)||sooth||seethe (*)|
|spor (track)||spyrian (investigate)||spore (*)||spir (*)|
|stēam||stȳman (WS, emit vapor)||steam||steem (*)|
|storm||styrman (storm)||storm||stirm (*)|
|swāt (sweat)||swǣtan||swoot (*)||sweat|
|tācn||tǣcnan (show)||token||teaken (*)|
|tēam (offspring)||tȳman (WS, give birth)||team||teem|
|tēona (vexation)||tȳnan (WS, vex)||teen||teen|
|tūdor (progeny)||tȳdran (propagate)||touder (*)||tider (*)|
|tūn (enclosure)||tȳnan (enclose)||town||tine|
|þæc (roof)||þeccan (cover)||thack||thetch|
|wamm (stain)||wemman (stain)||wam (*)||wem|
|wāþ (wandering, hunting)||wǣþan (hunt)||woath (*)||weathe (*)|
|wearg (monster)||wyrgan (WS, curse)||warrow (*)||wirrow|
|weorþ||wyrþan (WS, estimate)||worth||worthe (*)|
|wōm (sound)||wēman (persuade)||woom (*)||weem (*)|
- The OE verb ǣlan has not survived in its base form, but it lives on in the derivative anneal (OE onǣlan).
- Boot meaning remedy is now archaic, but it is still found in the phrase to boot.
- Kemb, the verbal derivative of comb, is still found in the past participle adjective unkempt (untidy, disheveled); modern kempt is a backformation from unkempt.
- The modern word dot seems to have come from Old English dott (meaning head of a boil), though it is not attested at all in Middle English and begins to be attested again in the late 16th century. The dialectal verb dit meaning close is from Old English dyttan and may be derived from dott.
- It is unclear whether OE drēam is the source of the modern word dream, as the meaning of dream is unattested in OE (though it is still possible that it was present, but simply unattested). The meaning of sleeping vision begins to be attested in Middle English and was due to or strengthened by Old Norse influence.
- OE flēdan is attested in the derivative oferflēdan (overflow) and the adjective fiþerflēdende (flowing in four parts). The base verb is attested in Middle English as fleden.
- OE ǣþan, hendan, myldan, and myrþran are attested only in geǣþan, gehendan, bemyldan, and formyrþran.
- The modern word murder shows a consonantal shift that was likely strengthened by Anglo-Norman forms; the shift may still be native, however, as seen in burden, OE byrþen.
- The word sale corresponds to sell as tale does to tell, but sale is a borrowing from Old Norse rather than an Old English word inherited from Proto-Germanic. However, it seems that if the word had been passed on to Old English and had survived up to New English, it would have still become sale.
- OE þeccan would have normally yielded thetch (which variant lived up to Early New English), but the verb's vowel was later influenced by the noun's vowel, and so the verb became thatch. The noun also became thatch from influence of the verb.
- The vowel in tellan is based on an older form that had æ.
- The OE verb wyrcan would have normally become worch, but inflected forms showing lack of palatalization and the noun work later influenced the verb.
Verbs gotten from adjectives:
|OE adjective||OE verb||NE adjective||NE verb|
|beald||byldan (WS, embolden)||bold||bield|
|beorht||byrhtan (WS, brighten)||bright||bright|
|blanc (white)||blencan (deceive)||blank (*)||blench|
|blāc (pale)||blǣcan||bloke (*)||bleach|
|cūþ (known)||cȳþan (make known)||couth||kithe|
|dēad||dȳdan (WS, kill)||dead||deed (*)|
|drōf (troubled)||drēfan (trouble)||droof (*)||dreeve (*)|
|eald||yldan (WS, delay)||old||eld (*)|
|earm (poor)||yrman (WS, afflict, vex)||arm||erm (*)|
|fāh (colored)||fǣgan (paint)||fow (*)||fay (*)|
|frōd (wise)||frēdan (perceive)||frood (*)||freed (*)|
|fūht (moist)||fȳhtan (moisten)||fought (*)||fight (*)|
|fūs (eager)||fȳsan (send forth)||fouse (*)||fise (*)|
|georn (eager)||gyrnan (WS, desire)||yern||yearn|
|heald (inclined)||hyldan (WS, incline)||hold (*)||hield|
|heard||hyrdan (WS, harden)||hard||herd (*)|
|hēan (abject)||hȳnan (WS, humiliate)||hean (*)||heen (*)|
|hlanc||hlencan (twist)||lank||lench (*)|
|hlēow (warm)||hlȳwan (WS, warm)||lew||lew|
|hlūd||hlȳdan (sound)||loud||lide (*)|
|hrōr (active)||hrēran (move)||roor (*)||rere (*)|
|hwæt (vigorous)||hwettan||whate (*)||whet|
|lēas (destitute)||lȳsan (WS, set free)||lease||leese|
|lēoht||lȳhtan (WS, allievate)||light||light|
|rōt (glad)||rētan (gladden)||root (*)||reet (*)|
|scearp||scyrpan (WS, sharpen)||sharp||sherp|
|sōm (united)||sēman (reconcile)||soom (*)||seem (*)|
|strang||strengan (strengthen)||strong||stringe (*)|
|stunt (foolish)||styntan (make blunt)||stunt||stint|
|trum (strong)||trymman (strengthen)||trum (*)||trim|
|upp||yppan (make known)||up||ip (*)|
|wāc (weak)||wǣcan (weaken)||woke (*)||weach (*)|
|wearm||wyrman (warm)||warm||werm (*)|
|wōd (mad)||wēdan (become mad)||wood||weed (*)|
|wrāþ||wrǣþan (anger)||wroth||wreathe (*)|
- The modern word blank is not a survival of the Old English word but a borrowing from Old French, but the French borrowing is from the same Germanic source.
- The derived blench now is an intransitive verb meaning flinch, which seems to be due to influence from blink.
- The word couth used in standard speech is not a survival of the original adjective but a backformation from uncouth, which originally meant unknown and now means unrefined.
- The verb file meaning corrupt is no longer used, but it is commonly found in the derivative defile.
- OE hlēow is attested only in derivatives such as unhlēow (chill). The adjective later came to have the meaning of tepid, and it may be related to the first element of lukewarm.
- OE hlencan is attested only in gehlencan.
- OE sōm is attested only in gesōm (unified).
- The modern verb seem is a borrowing from Old Norse, but is ultimately connected to the adjective, as it originally meant be suitable and gradually came to mean appear.
- OE strengan is attested only in gestrengan and ætstrengan (deforce).
Nouns gotten from adjectives and nouns with the addition of the -th suffix.
|OE word||OE noun||NE word||NE noun|
|earg (cowardly)||yrgþu (WS, cowardice)||arrow (*)||erth (*)|
|earm (poor)||yrmþu (WS, poverty)||arm||ermth (*)|
|fāh (hostile)||fǣhþu (feud)||foe||faught (*)|
|frum (original)||frymþ (origin)||from (*)||frimth (*)|
|gesund||gesynto (soundness)||sound||sint (*)|
|hēan (abject)||hȳnþu (WS, humiliation)||hean (*)||henth (*)|
|rūm (roomy)||rȳmþ (space)||room||rimth (*)|
|wearg (monster)||wyrgþu (WS, curse)||warrow (*)||wirrowth (*)|
- The OE noun fǣhþu would have become faught; the cluster hþ became ht in Middle English, as seen in height (OE hēhþo) and sight (OE sihþ), and the vowel would have changed to yield faught, as seen in the Middle English word aughte (OE ǣht meaning possession).
- Sleuth was later replaced by sloth, which was formed directly from slow in Middle English.
|OE adjective||OE noun||NE adjective||NE noun|
|beald||byldu (WS, boldness)||bold||bield|
|beorht||byrhto (WS, brightness)||bright||bright|
|ceald||cyldu (WS, coldness)||cold||chield (*)|
|cūþ (known)||cȳþ (knowledge, homeland)||couth||kith|
|eald||yldu (WS, age)||old||eld|
|grēat||grȳto (WS, greatness)||great||greet (*)|
|heald (inclined)||hylde (WS, slope)||hold (*)||hield|
|lang||lengu (length)||long||linge (*)|
|snotor (wise)||snytro (wisdom)||snoter (*)||snitter (*)|
|strang||strengu (strength)||strong||stringe (*)|
|wrāþ||wrǣþu (wrath)||wroth||wreath (*)|
- Bread was later replaced with breadth by analogy with nouns such as depth, strength, and length. It is still found in waybread, a name for the Eurasian plantain.
- The derivative of cold shows palatalization since the original vowel was æ, though in Middle English, keld (which shows influence of cold and would have normally become kield) is attested once.
- Proud and pride are clearly related, and their OE forms are prūd and prȳde (more commonly prūt and prȳte), but since proud is said to have been a late Old English borrowing from Old French, it seems that pride was formed by analogy with umlauted words inherited from Proto-Germanic.
Feminine nouns made with the -en suffix:
|OE noun||OE feminine||NE noun||NE feminine|
|geþofta (companion)||þyften (female servant)||thoft (*)||thiften (*)|
|mann (servant)||mennen||man||mennen (*)|
|scealc (servant)||scylcen (WS)||shalk (*)||shelchen (*)|
|þegn (servant)||þignen||thane||thinen (*)|
|þēow (slave)||þȳwen (WS)||thew (*)||thewn (*)|
|wearg (monster)||wyrgen (WS)||warrow (*)||wirrien (*)|
- The only remnant of the Germanic feminine ending is vixen, which is the feminine of fox and is gotten from the unattested OE fyxen. The word would have normally become fixen, but in one of the southern dialects, the initial consonant was voiced (which is also seen in vat and vane), and for whatever reason, vixen ended up becoming the standard form.
- The feminine of wearg is attested only in grundwyrgen, which is used in Beowulf to describe Grendel's mother. Also, wyrgen shows palatalization, whence the consonant in the feminine differs from that in wearg.
Nouns (instrumental or diminutive) made with the -le suffix.
|OE word||OE derivative||NE word||NE derivative|
|bod (order)||bydel (herald)||bode||biddle (*)|
- OE bydel was later influenced in form by Old French bedel, whence the current word beadle.
Comparative and superlative forms:
|OE adjective||NE adjective|
|eald, yldra, yldest (WS)||old, elder, eldest|
|feorr, fyrra, fyrrest (WS)||far, furrer (*), furrest (*)|
|geong, gingra, gingest||young, yinger (*), yingest (*)|
|hēah, hȳrra, hȳhst (WS)||high, hear, hext|
|lang, lengra, lengest||long, linger (*), lingest (*)|
|sceort, scyrtra, scyrtest (WS)||short, sherter (*), shertest (*)|
|strang, strengra, strengest||strong, stringer (*), stringest (*)|
- The eo in geong appears to have been not a true diphthong but an orthographic convention that stood for u and showed that the consonant was a palatal; had it been a true diphthong, the word would have later become yeng instead. The mutated forms showed i instead of y since i apparently was commonly substituted for y after palatal consonants.
- Likewise, the e in sceort appears to have been orthographic.
- The comparative OE grēat is attested as grȳtra (the West Saxon variant), but the superlative only begins to be attested in Middle English. Presumably, the OE superlative was grȳtest.
- The mutated comparative of OE brād (broad) is attested as brǣdra, but the mutated superlative brǣdest is unattested (but the regular superlative is).
- OE nēah (nigh) had a mutated superlative nȳhst, and the Anglian variant later became next. The comparative was nēarra and not nȳrra, but the comparative form of the adverb is attested as nȳr, however.
Adjectives made with the -en suffix:
|OE noun and adjective||NE noun and adjective|
|āc, ǣcen||oak, eachen (*)|
|ātor (poison), ǣtren||atter, ettren (*)|
|box (boxwood), byxen||box, bixen (*)|
|fox, fyxen||fox, fixen (*)|
|gold, gylden||gold, gilden|
|stān, stǣnen||stone, steanen (*)|
|wulf, wylfen||wolf, wilven (*)|
Adjectives made with the -ish suffix:
|OE noun and adjective||NE noun and adjective|
|Angel, Englisc||Angle (*), English|
|Franc(an), Frencisc||Frank, French|
|mann (human), mennisc||man, mennish (*)|
|mearc, myrcisc (WS)||mark, Merchish (*)|
|Scot(tas), Scyttisc||Scot, Skittish (*)|
|wealh, wylisc (WS)||Wallow (*), Welsh|
- OE Angel is attested only as a prefix meaning Anglo-.
- OE myrcisc (Mercian) might have later undergone shortening and become something like Merch instead. Likewise, OE Scyttisc could have become Skitch, just as Scottish has Scotch as a (now dated) contracted form.
Adjectives made with the -y suffix:
|OE noun and adjective||NE noun and adjective|
|ātor (poison), ǣtrig||atter, ettery (*)|
|god, gydig (mad)||god, giddy|