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). 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

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