List of English words of Old Norse origin
Words of Old Norse origin that have entered the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, primarily from the colonisation of eastern and northern England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 between 865–954 CE (see e.g. Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

). Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 (abbreviated in dictionaries as ON) existed in its spoken and written form from the 8th century until its spread from Scandinavia to colonies as far west as Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and far east as Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and the Baltic region
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 by Swedish settlers).

The language diverged into West Norse (Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

, Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, and Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

) and East Norse (Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

). With some minor regional variations in loan words, both West Norse and East Norse are essentially the same. The Vikings who raided and later settled in Great Britain came mainly from Norway and Denmark.

Note: this list is incomplete. Some of these words (such as "Ragnarök
In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures , the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water...

") are much later borrowings used to discuss Old Norse concepts.


ado: influenced by Norse "at" ("to", infinitive
In grammar, infinitive is the name for certain verb forms that exist in many languages. In the usual description of English, the infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to: therefore, do and to do, be and to be, and so on are infinitives...

 marker) which was used with English "do" in certain English dialects
  • á ("=in, on, to") + lopt ("=air, atmosphere, sky, heaven, upper floor, loft")
  • English provenance = c 1200 CE

  • angr ("=trouble, affliction"); root ang (="strait, straitened, troubled"); related to anga, plural öngur (="straits, anguish")
  • English provenance = c 1250 CE

  • agi ("=terror")
  • English provenance = c 1205 CE (as , an early form of the word resulting from the influence of Old Norse on an existing Anglo-Saxon form)

are: merger of Old English (earun, earon) and Old Norse (er) cognates
awkward: the first element is from Old Norse öfugr ("=turned-backward"), the '-ward' part is from Old English weard
axle: öxl ("=ox tree")


bag: baggi
bairn: barn (="child")
bait: beita
ball: bǫllr" (="round object")
band: band (="rope")
Bark is the outermost layers of stems and roots of woody plants. Plants with bark include trees, woody vines and shrubs. Bark refers to all the tissues outside of the vascular cambium and is a nontechnical term. It overlays the wood and consists of the inner bark and the outer bark. The inner...

: bǫrkr
Bask, bred at the Albigowa State Stud in Poland and foaled in 1956, was a bay Arabian stallion who was imported into the United States in 1963 by Dr. Eugene LaCroix of Lasma Arabians and became a major sire of significance in the Arabian breed....

: baðask reflex. of baða "bathe" (baðast, baða sig)
Berserkers were Norse warriors who are reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word berserk. Berserkers are attested in numerous Old Norse sources...

: berserkr, lit. 'bear-shirt', (alt. berr-serkr, 'bare-shirt') frenzied warriors
billow: bylgja
Childbirth is the culmination of a human pregnancy or gestation period with the birth of one or more newborn infants from a woman's uterus...

: byrðr
bleak: bleikr (="pale")
blunder: blundra (="shut one's eye")
both: baðir
bug: búkr (="insect within tree trunks")
bulk: bulki
Bull usually refers to an uncastrated adult male bovine.Bull may also refer to:-Entertainment:* Bull , an original show on the TNT Network* "Bull" , an episode of television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation...

: boli
By-law can refer to a law of local or limited application passed under the authority of a higher law specifying what things may be regulated by the by-law...

: bylög ('by'=village; 'lög'=law; 'village-law')


cake: kaka (="cake")
call: kalla (="cry loudly")
cast: kasta (="to throw")
clip: klippa(="to cut")
club: klubba (="cudgel")
crawl: krafla (="to claw")
crook: krokr (="hook-shaped instrument or weapon")
cur: kurra (="to growl")


In Norse mythology, Dagr is day personified. This personification appears in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

: dagr (="day")
die: deyja (="pass away")
dirt: drit (="feces")
dregs: dregg (="sediment")


fellow: felagi
flat: flatr
flit: flytja (="cause to fit")
fog: from Old Norse fok through Danish fog, meaning "spray", "shower", "snowdrift"
forcasten: forkasta (= "to cast away, reject")
freckle: freknur (="freckles")


gad: gaddr (="rod, long stick")
gap: gap (="chasm")
garth: garðr (="garden")
gauntlet: vǫttr (="armored glove")("let" denotes "little")
gawk: from Middle English gawen, from Old Norse ga (="to heed")
get: geta, gat (> got), gittan (> gotten)
A geyser is a spring characterized by intermittent discharge of water ejected turbulently and accompanied by a vapour phase . The word geyser comes from Geysir, the name of an erupting spring at Haukadalur, Iceland; that name, in turn, comes from the Icelandic verb geysa, "to gush", the verb...

: from Icelandic geysir, from Old Norse geysa (="to gush")
A gift or a present is the transfer of something without the expectation of receiving something in return. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free. In many human societies, the act of mutually exchanging money, goods, etc. may contribute to...

: gift (="dowry")
girth: gjörð (="circumference, cinch")
give: gefa (="to give")
glitter: glitra (="to glitter")
Gosling might refer to*A young goose*Gosling *Henry Gosling Prize, awarded to young European artists*Gosling Emacs, an Emacs implementation*Gosling's Rum, a brand of Bermuda rumPeople with the surname Gosling:...

: gæslingr" (="goose")
guest: gestr (="guest")
A gun is a muzzle or breech-loaded projectile-firing weapon. There are various definitions depending on the nation and branch of service. A "gun" may be distinguished from other firearms in being a crew-served weapon such as a howitzer or mortar, as opposed to a small arm like a rifle or pistol,...

: from Old Norse Gunnhildr (female name, both elements of the name, gunn and hildr, have the meaning "war, battle")
gust: gustr (="gust")


haggle: haggen (="to chop")
hail: heill (="health, prosperity, good luck")
hammer (noun): hamarr (="tool with a stone head")
hap, happy: happ (="chance, good luck, fate")
heathen: heiðinn (="not Christian or Jewish/ the word for an exclusively Christian idea, a person or society prior to Christianity.")
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

: May be in part from Old Norse Hel
Hel (being)
In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Hel is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

, the daughter of Loki
In Norse mythology, Loki or Loke is a god or jötunn . Loki is the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Nari or Narfi...

 and ruler of the underworld in Norse mythology.
hit: hitta (="to find")
how: haugr (="barrow, small hill") Usage preserved mainly in place names
husband: husbondi (="master of the house")


In boats and ships, keel can refer to either of two parts: a structural element, or a hydrodynamic element. These parts overlap. As the laying down of the keel is the initial step in construction of a ship, in British and American shipbuilding traditions the construction is dated from this event...

: kjölr
kid: kið (="young goat")
A knife is a cutting tool with an exposed cutting edge or blade, hand-held or otherwise, with or without a handle. Knives were used at least two-and-a-half million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools...

: knifr
A knot is a method of fastening or securing linear material such as rope by tying or interweaving. It may consist of a length of one or several segments of rope, string, webbing, twine, strap, or even chain interwoven such that the line can bind to itself or to some other object—the "load"...

: knutr


lad: ladd (="young man")
lathe: hlaða (="to load")
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

: *lagu
leg: leggr
likely: líkligr
link: *hlenkr
litmus: litmose (="lichen for dying", lita ="to stain")
loan: lán (="to lend")
loft: lopt (="an upper room or floor : attic, air, sky")
loose: lauss (="loose/free")
low: lagr


mire: myrr (='bog')
mistake: mistaka (="miscarry")
muck: myki (="cow dung")
mug: mugge
muggy: mugga (="drizzle, mist")


The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

, Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

: from Old Norse through Old French, meaning "northman", due to Viking settlement in Normandy region
Norse: from Old Norse through Dutch noorsch, noordsch, noord (="north, northern")


oaf: alfr (="elf")
odd: oddi (="third number", "the casting vote")
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

: Óðinn
An ombudsman is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency while representing not only but mostly the broad scope of constituent interests...

: from Old Norse umboðsmaðr through Swedish ombudsman, meaning "commissary", "representative", "steward"
outlaw: utlagi


In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures , the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water...

: "Doom of the gods" or "Destiny of the gods", from Norse mythology & ON word of same meaning, composed of words ragna, genitive of "the great powers"(regin), and rǫk (later rök) "destiny, doom, fate, end". Often erroneously rendered "Twilight of the Gods" after Richard Wagner's opera Götterdämmerung
is the last in Richard Wagner's cycle of four operas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen...

, based on the mythological event.
race: rás (="to race", "to run", "to rush", "to move swift")
raft: raptr (="log")
raise: reisa
ransack: rannsaka (="to search thoroughly")
The reindeer , also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic, including both resident and migratory populations. While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and one has already gone extinct.Reindeer vary considerably in color and size...

: hreindyri
rid: rythja (="to clear land")
rive: rífa (="to scratch, plow, tear")
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

: rót
rotten: rotinn (="decayed")
rugged: rogg (="shaggy tuft")
run: renna (="to run")


saga: saga (="story, tale")
sale: sala
same: same, samr (="same")
scale: (for weighing) from skal (="bowl, drinking cup", or in plural "weighing scale" referring to the cup or pan part of a balance) in early English used to mean "cup"
scant: skamt & skammr (="short, lacking")
scare: skirra (="to frighten)
scarf: skarfr (="fastening joint") (interestingly, "scarf" and "scarves" have been reintroduced to modern Swedish in their English forms)
scathe: skaða (="to hurt, injure")
score: skor (="notch"; "twenty")
scrape: skrapa (="to scrape, erase")
scrap: skrap (="scraps, trifles") from skrapa
seat: sæti (="seat, position")
seem: sœma (="to conform")
shake: skaka (="to shake")
skate: skata (="fish")
skid: probably from or related to Old Norse skið (="stick of wood") and related to "ski" (="stick of wood", or in this sense "snowshoe")
skill: skil (="distinction")
skin: skinn (="animal hide")
skip: skopa (="to skip, run)
skirt: skyrta (="shirt")
The skull is a bony structure in the head of many animals that supports the structures of the face and forms a cavity for the brain.The skull is composed of two parts: the cranium and the mandible. A skull without a mandible is only a cranium. Animals that have skulls are called craniates...

: skulle (="head")
sky: ský (="cloud")
slant: sletta, slenta (="to throw carelessly")
slaughter: *slahtr (="butchering")
slaver: slafra (="slaver")
sledge: sleggja (="sledgehammer")
sleight: slœgð
sleuth: sloð (="trail")
sly: sloegr (="cunning, crafty, sly")
snare: snara (="noose, snare")
snub: snubba (="to curse")
sprint: spretta (="to jump up")
stagger: stakra (="to push")
stain: steina (="to paint")
stammer: stemma (="to hinder, damn up")
steak: steik, steikja (="to fry")
sting: stinga (="to sting")
sway: sveigja (="to bend, swing, give way")


take: taka
Tarn (lake)
A tarn is a mountain lake or pool, formed in a cirque excavated by a glacier. A moraine may form a natural dam below a tarn. A corrie may be called a cirque.The word is derived from the Old Norse word tjörn meaning pond...

: tjörn, tjarn
their: þierra
they: þeir
Thorp is a Middle English word for a hamlet or small village, from Old English /Old Norse þorp . There are many place names in England with the suffix "-thorp" or "-thorpe". Most are in East Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk but some are in Surrey.Old English þorp is cognate...

: þorp
though: from Old English þēah, and in part from Old Norse þó (="though")
Thrall was the term for a serf or unfree servant in Scandinavian culture during the Viking Age.Thralls were the lowest in the social order and usually provided unskilled labor during the Viking era.-Etymology:...

: þræll
Thursday: Þorsdagr (="Thor
In Norse mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing, and fertility...

's day")
thrift: þrift (="prosperity")
thrust: þrysta (="to thrust, force")
thwart: þvert (="across")
tidings: tíðindi (="news of events")
tight: þéttr (="watertight, close in texture, solid")
till: til (="to, until")
A troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. In origin, the term troll was a generally negative synonym for a jötunn , a being in Norse mythology...

: troll (="giant, fiend, demon"; further etymology is disputed)
trust: traust (="help, confidence")


ugly: uggligr (="dreadful")
until: from Old Norse und (="as far as, up to") and til (="until, up to")


Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. It is a hard, silvery gray, ductile and malleable transition metal. The formation of an oxide layer stabilizes the metal against oxidation. The element is found only in chemically combined form in nature...

: from Old Norse Vanads, another name for Freja
viking: vikingr (="one who came from the fjords")


A wand is a thin, straight, hand-held stick of wood, stone, ivory, or metal. Generally, in modern language, wands are ceremonial and/or have associations with magic but there have been other uses, all stemming from the original meaning as a synonym of rod and virge, both of which had a similar...

: vondr (="rod")
want: vanta (="to lack")
weak: veikr (="weak, pliant")
whirl: hvirfla (="to go around")
A whisk is a cooking utensil used in food preparation to blend ingredients smooth, or to incorporate air into a mixture, in a process known as whisking or whipping. Most whisks consist of a long, narrow handle with a series of wire loops joined at the end. The wires are usually metal, but some are...

: viska (="to plait")
wight: vigr (="able in battle") – the other wight meaning "man" is from Old English
wile: vél (="trick, craft, fraud")
A window is a transparent or translucent opening in a wall or door that allows the passage of light and, if not closed or sealed, air and sound. Windows are usually glazed or covered in some other transparent or translucent material like float glass. Windows are held in place by frames, which...

: vindauga (="wind-eye") – although gluggi was more commonly used in Old Norse
A wing is an appendage with a surface that produces lift for flight or propulsion through the atmosphere, or through another gaseous or liquid fluid...

: vængr (="a wing")
wrong: rangr (="crooked, wry, wrong")


In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is an immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology. It was said to be the world tree around which the nine worlds existed...

: Yggdrasill
yule: jol ("A heathen feast upon the winter solstice
Winter solstice
Winter solstice may refer to:* Winter solstice, astronomical event* Winter Solstice , former band* Winter Solstice: North , seasonal songs* Winter Solstice , 2005 American film...

, later appropriated by Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...


See also

External links

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