Fjörn’s Old Norse Dictionary

In an effort to help make Old Norse a more easily accessible language, I gather both interesting and useful words here in order to form a simple but useful ‘dictionary’ (one that is beneficial not only for scholars, but for anyone). Hopefully this page will help those who are unable to access or obtain more professional resources (which can be found at the bottom of this page or in my library). Though, you may want to check out the free, online dictionary by Cleasby-Vigfusson, because it’s really good (much better than this one). All definitions come from reliable sources (see the upcoming endnote), but are subject to the misleading nature of both semantics and the inevitable simplification of dictionary entries.[1] Each word is included in an alphabetically ordered list, including basic grammatical information and English definitions.[2] You may also consult the bottom of this page for some basic pronunciation guides and tips.[3] I also have an Old Norse reference sheet coming soon, which will provide basic grammatical information (but it works better if you have already studied the language a bit). Also, I generally try to add new words frequently, but life as a graduate student isn’t always so merciful. But how about this:

What words would you like to see added to this dictionary? Comment below!

I want this dictionary to be useful for anyone, after all, so let’s make this dictionary a community effort! Comment whatever English words you want to have in Old Norse below and I’ll make sure to add them. Takk!

Words frequently used in the sagas (according to Byock) are North green!



Fjörn’s Old Norse Words

A/Á | B | D | E/É | F | G | H | I/Í | J | K | L | M | N | O/Ó | P | R | S | T | U/Ú | V | Þ | Ö

A/Á ^

  • álfr (noun, m.) elf
  • ár (noun, n.) year; plenty, abundance, fruitfulness; the name of the rune
  • ár (adv.) anciently, of yore; early
  • ársæll (adj.) fortunate (in terms of harvest)


B ^

  • bjó (verb: 1/3sg. past of búa) lived
  • björn (noun, m.) bear
  • blað (noun, n.) leaf of a plant,: leaf in a book; blade of a knife; skirt
  • blót (noun, n.) sacrifice, sacrificial feast
  • blótlundr (noun, m.) sacred grove, heathen place of sacrifice
  • bók (noun, f.) book
  • bóndi (noun, m.) husband, farmer, landowner
  • (noun, n.) household, farm
  • búa (verb) to live; prepare
  • bœr (noun, m.) farmstead; town


D ^

  • dagr (noun, m) day
  • dóttir (noun, f.) daughter
  • draugr (noun, m.) the inhabitant of a cairn, ghost, spirit
  • draumr (noun, m.) dream
  • dreki (noun, m.) dragon; ship of war
  • dróttning (noun, f.) queen


E/É ^

  • efniligr (adj.) promising
  • einhverr (adj. pro.) some, some one
  • einvígi (noun, n.) single combat, duel
  • eldstó (noun, m.) fireplace, heath


F ^

  • fagr (adj.) beautiful
  • fara (verb) to go, travel
  • ferð (noun, f.) journey
  •  (noun, n.) cattle, sheep; wealth; the name of the rune
  • fjall (noun, n.) mountain, fell
  • forn (adj.) old; ancient
  • freyja (noun, f.) lady; the goddess Freyja
  • friðr (noun, m.) peace, personal security; love, friendship
  • frændi (noun, m.) kinsmen


G ^

  • gaf (verb: 1/3sg. past of gefa) gave
  • galdr (noun, m.) magic song, charm; (pl.) magic, sorcery
  • gandr (noun, m.) magic staff
  • gangandi (noun, m.) wayfarer
  • gamall (adj.) old
  • gestr (noun, m.) guest
  • goði (noun, m.) chieftain, heathen priest
  • góðr (adj.) good
  • gjöf (noun, f.) gift


H ^

  • hamingja (noun, f.) guardian sprint; luck, good fortune
  • hann (pro.) he
  • hauss (noun, m.) skull
  • haust (noun, n.) harvest season, autumn
  • hár (adj.) high; tall; glorious
  • háttr (noun, m.) mode of life, habit; custom
  • heiðingi (noun, m.) heathen, gentile; wolf (poetic)
  • heim (adv.) (to) home, homeward
  • heita (verb) to be named
  • hestr (noun, m.) horse
  • hjálp (noun, f.) help
  • hjálpa (verb) to help
  • hófsmaðr (noun, m.) a man of moderation
  • hrafn (noun, m.) raven
  • hrímþursar (noun, m. pl.) the Frost-giants
  • hús (noun, n.) house
  • höll (noun, f.) large house, hall


I/Í ^

  • írskr (adj.) Irish
  • íslenzkr (adj.) Icelandic


J ^

  • jól (noun, n., pl.) Yule; Christmas
  • jörð (noun, f.) earth; ground


K ^

  • kona (noun, f.) woman, wife
  • konungr (noun, m.) king
  • kostr (noun, m.) choice
  • kristinn (adj.) Christian
  • kunnigr (adj.) wise, versed in magic


L ^

  • landnámsmaðr (noun, m.) settler
  • lið (noun, n.) host, folk; family, household; troops; aid
  • ljós (noun, n.) a burning light; light from the sun; world
  • læknir (noun, m.) physician, healer


M ^

  • maðr (noun, m.) man, person; the name of the rune
  • mál (noun, n.) speech
  • mikill (adj.) big, great, prominent
  • morginn (noun, m.) morning
  • mjöðr (noun, m.) mead


N ^

  • nes (noun, f.) headland
  • norðr (noun, n.) the north; (í, á, til) northwards; (ór) from the north
  • Norðrlönd (noun, n., pl.) Northern lands; Scandinavia


P ^

  • papi (noun, m.) priest


R ^

  • rata (verb) to travel, roam
  • rauðr (noun, m.) red
  • ráð (noun, n.) advice, counsel; plan
  • ríkr (adj.) powerful, mighty
  • rúnar (noun, f. pl.) secret, hidden lore, wisdom; written characters, runes; magical characters or signs


S ^

  • saga (noun, f.) history, story
  • sagnaskemtan (noun, f.) story-telling (at public meetings, feasts, etc.)
  • saman (adv.) together
  • sjá (verb) to see
  • segja (verb) to say, tell; declare
  • skál (noun, f.) bowl
  • skáld (noun, n.) poet
  • skáli (noun, m.) hut, shed; hall, room
  • skegg (noun, n.) beard
  • skip (noun, n.) ship
  • skógr (noun, m.) forest
  • skjöldr (noun, m.) shield
  • skifa (verb) to draw, paint; to write
  • sonr (noun, m.) son
  • sólhvarf (noun, n.) solstice
  • spá (noun, f.) prophecy
  • spá (verb) to prophesy, foretell
  • spjót (noun, n.) spear, lance
  • staðr (noun, m.) stead, place, spot
  • sterkr (adj.) strong
  • sverð (noun, n.) sword


T ^

  • tíðindi (noun, n. pl.) tidings, news
  • tré (noun, n.) tree; mast of a ship; rafter, beam

U/Ú ^

  • unna (verb) to grant, allow, bestow; (w/ dat.) to love


V ^

  • vargr (noun, m.) wolf; thief, robber; outlaw
  • vápn (noun, n.) weapon
  • vár (noun, n.) spring
  • vera (verb) to be
  • vetr (noun, m.) winter
  • vinr (noun, m.) friend
  • vitr (adj.) wise
  • víking (noun, f.) raid
  • Víkingr (noun, m.) Viking
  • vísa (noun, f.) verse
  • vænn (adj.) beautiful, fine; hopeful, promising


Þ ^

  • þing (noun, n.) assembly

Ö ^

  • ör (noun, f.) arrow

Endnotes

1 | Dictionary entires are often very limited windows into a word’s true meaning, which often changes depending on the context in which it appears. Furthermore, the definitions provided above are devoid from grammatical and contextual ‘hints’ that are offered from professionally published dictionaries. As noted, this resource is meant for those who do not have access to such resources, but also to provide a searchable platform on which to begin further work involving Old Norse. Regarding the sources for Old Norse that are used by this website, see Old Norse ‘Course’. ^

2 | Words have been listed in accordance to the Icelandic alphabet. For more detailed definitions (which include a bit more grammatical information), see Geir T. Zoëga, A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2004). ^

3 | There are two methods for pronouncing Old Norse, one that uses a reconstructed pronunciation and another that uses modern Icelandic pronunciation instead. The choice is yours: ^

  1. Old Icelandic Method
  2. Modern Icelandic Method
  3. Special Characters

2 thoughts on “Fjörn’s Old Norse Dictionary

  1. Garm

    brúk n. dried heaps of seaweed, metaph. big words

    býsn n. portent

    efni n. materials of composition, that from which a thing is wrought

    él n. snow shower, snowstorm

    fax n. mane (note Shadowfax Gandalf’s horse in LOTR)

    feigr adj. a mercurial, frantic and oblivious manner

    flagð n. ogre, giantess

    fleipr n. babble, tattle

    forað n. a locality of dangerous terrain, metaph. a bad situation

    geip n. vapid nonsense

    gengi n. good luck, success

    hamalt n. adj. a phalanx shaped like a hog’s snout with a wedge in the front and three columns trailing with two gaps between them enclosed by a rear line, and designed to represent numbers by increasing the internal area of the formation

    hraun n. a wilderness locality, desolate terrain, rough place

    hreifr adj. merry, gladsome

    hret n. a driving, persistent tempest or snowstorm

    hýrr adj. cheerful, brightness of demeanor

    kramr adj. half-thawed, e.g. of snow (note the cram, a type of hardtack made by the people of Dale in the Hobbit)

    krof n. dressed carcass

    ljótr adj. hideous, misshapen

    ragr adj. craven, cowardly

    rot n. concussive stun, drunken stagger

    sax n. a short sword with one sharp edge; the raised prow of a ship

    skart n. fashionable, dapper

    skrof n. snow-ice, full of holes and bubbles

    skyr n. curd

    slys n. a mishap or mischance, rotten luck

    taufr n. sorcery

    tingl n. ornamental headpiece or bulwark on a ship

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  2. treadgoarding

    ar | n. a drop of sunshine, mote of a sunbeam

    áfr | n. oat ale

    ámr | adj. a repulsive quality as of blood pulp

    bali | n. a grassy embankment

    ben | n. a wound producing blood

    bil | n. the twinkling of an eye, a fleeting or flittering

    brösk | n. a crackling noise

    bæxl | n. the pectoral girdle of a viviparous fish or sea mammal

    drangr | n. a solitary upright rock, metaphorically: gallant, magnanimous

    eimr | n. a fine vapor incidentally diffused, e.g. from the sap or dew off of kindling; or that which is produced by decomposition

    elja | n. concubine, war bride

    esja | n. a kind of clay, found especially in the vicinity of an Icelandic mountain bearing the same name

    falr | n. the socket of a spearhead

    fasti | n. a ceremonial fire

    fauskr | n. a dry rotten log, especially one dug out of the earth

    fála | n. a giantess, a hoydenish woman

    fengr | n. a haul or take of fish

    fles | n. a verdant spot amongst desolate fells

    flet | collective n. rooms or benches

    fok | n. a driven airborne plume of particulate matter

    furða | n. an omen, a mystery

    gelgja | n. the cheekbones of a fish

    gífr | n. a witch or fiend; wanton rapine

    glaumr | n. a merry or cheerful sound as of a banquet

    grunnr | n. a seafloor or bottom of a lake or water

    grýla | n. an ogre(ss); a fantastic bugbear

    hadda | n. a hanger consisting of a chain of rings which form the handle of a pot

    hamla | n. an oar loop that is fastened to the thole

    héðinn | n. a pelt jacket

    hjarn | n. frozen snow

    hlaut | n. blood of a sacrifice, sacred blood

    hlunnr | n. the rolling log(s) used for moving ships on land

    hregg | n. a precipitous gale; adj. stormy

    hríð | n. a snowstorm

    hrosti | n. brewing mash

    hvellr | n. a shrill sound as of an explosion

    hvönn | n. Angelica archangelica L., a common flavorant in ale

    hölkn | n. a rough, stony field

    hörgr | n. an altar situated on a natural rise

    ilmr | n. a sweet smell

    jálmr | n. battle noise as of the clash of weapons or the ring of spears

    klaki | n. frozen ground

    kliðr | n. a din or murmer, crowd noise

    klöpp | n. a pier-like natural projection of rock

    kæsir | n. calf’s rennet, used in the manufacture of curds

    lögn | n. a dropnet, as opposed to a dragnet

    mjöll | n. powdery snow

    rok | n. an agitated, foamy sea

    röng | n. a rib of a ship; compare the English: frame

    seyðir | n. cooking fire

    sía | n. a glowing substance, especially molten metal

    skrípi | n. a fantastic monster

    skyrsi | n. a phantasm; a daze arising from witchery

    tróð | n. faggot wood

    tugga | n. a chewed mouthful, a masticated mass

    úfr | n. a rough edge cast in wood by a planer; ruffled hair

    vagl | n. an upper crossbeam, e.g. of a hall

    vaztir | n. a bank from which fishermen fish

    váði | n. a sudden peril

    veig | n. a strong drink, metaphorically pith, gist

    þaular | n. an abstract thing of tedious complexity

    þella | n. a young pine

    þinull | n. the edge-rope of a net

    þópta | n. a rowing bench in a ship or boat

    þurs | n. a giant, especially in mind i.e. a dunce or idiot

    þytr | n. a whistling or whirring sound

    öfund | n. a grudging envy or malicious will

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