Representing the VMN, MIS, and NR Programs at the University of Iceland

Putting the Old Norse Into English

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Dr. Sara Pons-Sanz, a Lecturer in Medieval Studies at the University of Nottingham, is taking a good long look at the Old Norse loanwords which have slipped through the extremely permeable border of the English language. She is researching the grammatical properties of these words in order to shed some light on Norse expansion and what impact the assimilation of the Norse has had on English culture. For more information there is a similar post on The Viking Rune.

Here is a partial list of some of the loanwords we all use and know so well:

anger – (ON angr ‘grief’) [1220-1250]
birth – (ON burðr) [1016-1150]
bleak – (ON bleikr ‘pale’) [1250-1300]
bloom – (ON blóm) [1016-1150]
call – (ON kalla) [before 1016]
cast – (ON kasta) [1016-1150]
crawl – (ON krafla) [c.1350]
crook – (ON krókr) [1016-1150]
die – (ON deyja) [1016-1150]
fellow – (ON félagi) [before 1016]
gear – (ON gervi ‘equipment’) [1300-1450]
get – (ON geta) [c.1250]
hit – (ON hitta ‘to come upon’) [1016-1150]
husband – (ON hús ‘house’ and bóndi ‘householder’) [before 1016]
ill – (ON illr) [1016-1150]
kid – (ON kiþ) [1220-1250]
kindle – (ON kynda) [1016-1150]
knife – (ON knífr) [1016-1150]
law – (ON lag ‘law’)
leg – (ON leggr) [1016-1150]
lift – (ON lypta) [1250-1300]
loan – (ON lán) [1016-1150]
loose – (ON lauss) [1300-1450]
low – (ON lágr) [1016-1150]
meek – (ON mjúkr ‘gentle, soft’) [1016-1150]
rag – (ON rögg) [1016-1150]
raise – (ON rísa to rise) [1016-1150]
ransack – (ON rann-saka ‘to search a house’) [1220-1250]
sale – (ON sala) [1016-1150]
scare – (ON skjarr ‘timid’) [1016-1150]
seem – (ON sæma ‘to conform to’) [1250-1300]
skill – (ON skil) [1016-1150]
skin – (ON skinn) [1016-1150]
skirt – (ON skyrt) [after 1450]
sky – (ON skie ‘cloud’) [1220-1250]
slaughter – (ON sláter ‘butcher’s meat’) [1300-1450]
sly – (ON slœgr) [c.1250]
snare – (ON snara) [1016-1150]
take – (ON taka) [1016-1150]
thrive – (ON þrífa ‘to grasp’) [1016-1150]
trust – (ON traust) [c.1250]
ugly – (ON uggr ‘fear’) [1220-1250]
wand – (ON vöndr) [1016-1150]
want – (ON vanta) [1016-1150]
weak – (ON veikr) [1250-1300]
window – (ON vindauga ‘wind eye’) [1220-1250]
wing – (ON vengr) [1016-1150]
wrong – (ON rangr ‘awry, unjust’) [before 1016]

2 Responses to “Putting the Old Norse Into English”

  1. […] Pie chart depicting the origins of the words in the English language. A significant amount of them are of Old Norse origin. Image source: http://www.nemedafelog.hi.is […]

  2. […] Pie chart depicting the origins of the words in the English language. A significant amount of them are of Old Norse origin. Image source: http://www.nemedafelog.hi.is […]