Vowel Changes

All changes of vowels are of two kinds, simple and complex:

1. the simple is homogeneous and leaves the quantity of the vowel unaltered; a short vowel is changed into a short, a long or a diphthong into a long or a diphthong; this change is generally caused by characteristic or inflexive letters, in Icel. especially by i (j) and u (v).

2. the complex is heterogeneous and affects the quantity of a vowel, which is changed from a short into a long or diphthongal vowel; this change is generally produced by,

α. agglutination, absorption, or the like; or,

β. by contraction of two syllables into one (e.g. reduplicated syllables contracted).

The Simple Vowel Changes

The Umlaut or Vowel Change was first traced out by Jacob Grimm in his Grammar of 1819 and 1822; it is of two kinds, A. the i- umlaut caused by a characteristic i or j; and, B. the u- umlaut caused by a characteristic u or v.

A. The i- umlaut, whereby the primitive vowels

a, á, au, o, ó, u, ú, jó, jú, (o), are changed into
e, æ, ey, y, œ, y, ý, ý, (ø).

The primitive vowels are thus changed into mixed vowels with an i- sound; short vowels change into short, and long or diphthongs into long or diphthongs. All the changed vowels have an a- or u- sound blended with i, whence it follows that no change takes place within the i- class itself, and i, í, ei are unchangeable (‘unumlautbar,’ as Grimm says): the characteristic i usually appears as j, or has since been dropped in most cases; it can only be sounded,

α. in dissyllabic words with a short root syllable, i.e. a short vowel and a single final, thus tem-ja, ven-ja, but tœma, væna; and,

β. in long syllables with g, k, or a vowel as final, without regard to the quantity of the root vowel, thus fylg-ja, hœg-ja, sœk-ja, dey-ja: in monosyllables it is apocopated throughout, e.g. in nes, but nes-ja. Thousands of words are formed by way of umlaut, but all words thus formed are derivatives, nouns as well as verbs:

I. roots and words formed by umlaut are,

1. verbs, the greatest part of the 2nd weak conjugation, such as dœma, geyma, heyra, kenna, at least three hundred, to which add all those with inflexive -ja, in the 2nd and 3rd conjugations and a few of the 1st, together about two hundred verbs. We may take as a sample the transitive verbs which are formed from the strong intransitive verbs, all following the 2nd weak conjugation, and having for root vowel the pret. sing. of the strong verbs but with changed vowel wherever the vowel is changeable; about forty such words are in use, formed from the 1st class, with pret. a, sprengja, drekkja, brenna, renna, bella, sleppa, spretta, svelta, vella, velta, hverfa, þverra, skelfa, hrökkva, stökkva, sökkva: from the 2nd and 3rd classes, pret. ei, au, leiða, reiða, dreifa, hneigja, reisa, beita, bleikja; geysa, fleyta, hreyta, þeyta, dreypa, fleygja, smeygja, feykja, reykja: from the 4th class, pret. ó, œxa, fœra, gœla, kœla, sœra, hlœgja: from the 5th and 6th classes, pret. á, a, etc., leggja, setja and sæta, svæfa; fella, hengja, græta,—all of them causal, denoting to make one do so and so, e.g. brenna (brann), to burn, but brënna (brenn-di), to consume by fire; hverfa (hvarf), to disappear, hverfa, ð, to turn; ríða (reið), to ride, reiða, dd, to carry; bíta (beit), to bite, beita, t, to cut, make bite; hníga (hneig), to sink, hneigja, ð, to make to sink; sofa, to sleep, svæfa, ð, to lull to sleep; falla (féll), to fall, fella, d, to fell; gráta (grét), to greet (weep), græta, tt, to make one greet; hanga (hékk), to hang (intrans.), hengja, d, to hang (trans.), etc.

2. nouns, adjectives; those as ný-r, sœt-r, counting perhaps a hundred words: substantives, hundreds of derivatives, e.g. the neuters in -i, as klæð-i: all the weak feminines in -i, as gleð-i: the words of the 2nd declension of strong masc. and fem., as bekkr, fit, heiðr: the masc. in -ir, as lækn-ir: neuters, as nes;—in short, all words marked as having characteristic i or j: in the chief declension (the 1st), hundreds of words, as bœn, prayer, from bón; væta, wetness, from vátr; or,

3. words with nominal inflexions; the feminines with inflexive -d (ð, t, prop, instead of -id), leng-d, length, from lang-; hæ-ð, height, from há-r; dýp-t, depth, from djúp-: most feminines with inflexive -ska and -sla (qs.-iska,-isla), bern-ska from barn, Íslend-ska from Ísland, gæt-sla from gát: masculines in -ingr and feminines in -ing, thus England, England, but Englendingr, an Englishman; læg-ing, lowering, from lágr; but not in those in -ningr, -ning, e.g. brag-ningr, drótt-ning (not drœttning), as the n comes between the word and root vowel: masculines in -ill, ket-ill: diminutives in -lingr, bœk-lingr, libellus, from bók; dræp-lingr, a ditty, from drápa, a poem.

II. inflexions formed by way of umlaut are,

1. verbs; in about three hundred verbs the derivative tenses pres. indic, and pret. subj. are thus formed, viz. all the strong verbs and the weak of the 3rd and partly those of the 4th conjugation (see the tables and remarks on the verbs above).

2. nouns; the plur. in the 3rd strong declension, bók, bœk-r; eigandi, eigend-r; bróð-ir, brœð-r; fað-ir, feð-r; móð-ir, mœð-r; fót-r, fœt-r; mús, mýs-s; gás, gæs-s,—the -r or -s being here contracted instead of -ir.

3. dissyllabic comparatives (and superlatives) of adjectives, in -ri, -str, yng-ri, yng-str; hæ-ri, hæ-str, etc.

By observing the rules of the vowel change the reader will be enabled to follow the derivative words recurring in the Dictionary, e.g. glaðr and gleði, fár and fætta, auðr and eyða, forn and fyrna, bót and bœta, fullr and fylla, fúss and fýsa, ljós and lýsa. Lastly, we have to notice that,

1. the œ (in MSS. spelt ø and ꝍ) is obsolete in Icel., and the changes of á and ó are sounded both alike, thus fótr, fæti (old fœti); móð-ir, bróð-ir, old plur. mœð-r, brœð-r; in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway the distinction is retained, and has to be borne in mind for the sake of the etymology.

2. the vowel change o into ø is rare and obsolete, and is now represented by e; it takes place in very few words, e.g. the comparative and superlative from of-, øfri, øfstr; norðr, nørðri: the pres. indic, køm-r from koma (to come), søf-r from sofa (to sleep), trøð-r from troða (to tread); but commonly kem-r, treð-r, sef-r: the plur. of hnot (a nut), hnøt-r; stoð (a column), støð-r, but later hnet-r, steð-r; this change is therefore in col. 1 put last, between ( ), and it need not be heeded, and o and u may be said to have the same vowel change.

B. The u- umlaut, whereby the primitive vowels

a, á, are changed into
ö (), ́,

Distinction is to be made between the change if caused by a characteristic or an inflexive u:

I. the change by a characteristic u takes place in the following instances,

α. nouns, all masculines as köttr: feminines as höfn: neuters as högg: neuter plurals as börn from barn: masculines as söngr.

β. adjectives, in fem. sing, and neut. plur. in words as fagr: and through all genders in adjectives as föl-r.

γ. verbs: those in -va (only a few).

2. the vowel change á, ́ takes place in all similar instances, e.g. h́ttr (modus); ́ss (a god) = áss; n́l = nál (needle); ́r = ár (an oar); ́r = ár (years); s́r = sár (wounds); f́ = fá (few), fem. and neut.; h́ = há (high), fem. and neut.; but this change from á into ́ is now obsolete, and has been lost for about seven centuries, whereas the change from a into ö is still in full use; both are of common origin, and can only have risen together and at a time when the inflexive -u was still suffixed to all these words. Since that time it has been dropped in many cases, but the vowel change has remained, in some forms throughout all numbers and cases, whereas in others, as barn, höfn, fagr, the primitive vowel recurs before inflexive -ar, -ir, and the like; the difference is probably only one of time, the one being older and weak, the other later and stronger.

The words in p. 1, col. 2, lines 23, 24 from the bottom are not quite exact, and ought to be worded thus, ‘this vowel change seems still to have been in full use in Icel. during the 11th and 12th centuries, being etc.’

II. the change caused by an inflexive -u takes place in all words, nouns and verbs, having a as root vowel, and -u, -ur, -um for inflexion, cp. in the tables the verbs kalla. vaka, and such nouns as hjarta, alda. Thus in börn and in börn-um the case is different, the ö in börn is caused by a lost characteristic u, in börn-um it is caused by the inflexive -um; as also in göm-ul (prisca) from gamall.

The former change by a characteristic u was in olden times common to all Scandinavians, whereas the latter seems to be solely Icel.; Swedes, Danes, and Norsemen said lönd (terrae), but landum (terris); börn, but barnum; as also gamul (prisca), not as the Icel. gömul. It is to be borne in mind that a characteristic belongs to the root, and has a stronger hold than an inflexive vowel, so that the former may cause a change in the root vowel, though the latter does not. It is also to be noticed that the inflexive vowel was not properly u, but was in early times sounded and spelt o (land-om, kall-om, gam-ol).

β. in inflexive syllables ending in a the change usually becomes u, e.g. hundruð, sumur, from hundrad, sumar; kölluðu, clamabant: in hard or strong inflexions both forms are right, as in eigöndum and eigundum, hörðöstum and hörðustum; in mod. usage the latter is more current.

III. the ancients seem to have had a third kind of u change, viz. caused by a mixed i and u, which they spelt ø or ey, as the verbs hrökkva, dökkvan, stökkva were in MSS. sometimes spelt hreyqua, steyqua, deyquan, qs. hranquian; but this was confined to a few words and is now obsolete.

There is also a peculiar Resolution of the vowels i or e into ja (or ). This is called ‘breaking’ (Grimm ‘brechung’), and takes place in some infinitives of strong verbs of the 1st class, gjalda, etc., and in several nouns, e.g. hjálp, help; cp. also berg and bjarg, fell and fjall, gildi and gjald: in the feminines björk, a birch; fjöl, a deal-board; björg, help; tjörn, a tarn; fjöðr, a feather (but also fiðr); gjöf, a gift, from gefa, to give; gjörð, a girdle; jörð, earth (see remarks on the 1st strong fem. declension); in the seven masc. nouns, as fjörðr, a firth (see remarks on the 2nd strong masc. declension): and in sundry other nouns, jarl, an earl, hjalm-r, a helmet; jaki, ice, jökull, an icicle; hjarta, heart; jötunn, a giant, fjöturr, a fetter: in adjectives, as bjartr bright, but birti brightness; sjálfr, self; jafn, even; gjarn, willing (and girni); snjallr and snilli; fjarr, far, but firr, farther, and firrask, to avoid, whence fjar-ski, q.v.; sjaldan, seldom; fjöl, Germ. viel, whence fjöldi, multitude.

These must be distinguished from such words as fjándi, qs. fí-andi, a fiend; sjándi, seeing, qs. sí-andi; or in trjá, arborum; fjár, pecoris;—in all of which the is produced by contraction; as also from or jú, in bjóða, ljós, and similar words.

The Complex and Heterogeneous Vowel Changes

Absorption and Contraction. A consonant is sometimes absorbed by a preceding vowel, which then becomes long or diphthongal:

1. absorption of nasals,

α. the inflexive -n in the weak nouns and infinitives of verbs has been absorbed, but as all Icel. inflexions (of cases and tenses) have short vowels, the end syllable has not in this case become long, and the n has simply been dropped, leaving at first a nasal sound, which afterwards disappeared: similar is the contraction in the negative suffix (see p. xxvi).

β. in roots, the Scandinavian tongue commonly contracts the particles an-, in-, un-, sin- (semper) into á, í, ú (or o), sí; þá, Engl. then; nú, Germ. nun:

—in sundry other words, esp. before s, e.g. os-s = Germ. uns; ás-s, deus; bás-s, a byre; gás, a goose; ást, love (for ans, bans, gans, etc.); fús-s, willing, from funs; rás, course, from renna, to run: vetr, winter: assimilation has taken place in the preterite forms, as batt bound, vatt wound, hratt pushed, qs. bandt, vandt, hrandt; even ng, as in œri, an obsolete form for yngri, younger (qs. öngri); hestr, a horse, prob. = hengistr, Dan. hingst; in provinc. Dan. it is still pronounced as diphthong heist.

2. absorption of gutturals before t; here also the t is doubled and the vowel made long (by assimilation as well as absorption) in many words, e.g. dó-ttir, a daughter, Goth, dauhtar; nó-tt, night; só-tt, sickness, cp. sjúk-r, sick; á-tta, octo, eight; dró-tt (q.v.); þó-tti, thought; só-tti, sought (þykkja, sœkja); sá-tt, peace (cp. síkn); drá-ttr, draught; slá-ttr, stroke; má-ttr, might; há-ttr, mode; ré-ttr, right; slé-ttr, slight; ó-tti, fright; fló-tti, flight; þé-ttr and þjokkr, tight; fré-tta and fregna, to ask; væ-ttr, wight, Germ. wicht; níta, to deny, cp. Germ. nicht; væ-tt, weight; hlá-tr, laughter; slátra, to slaughter, etc.: even before ð in the feminine inflexion -úð, qs. hugð.

β. at the end of a syllable; ná-r, a corpse, Goth, nahs, cp. Lat. nec-s, = Gr. νέκυς; fá-r, Lat. paucus, Goth, fahs; fé, Goth, faihu, Lat. pĕcu; né, Lat. nec, ne-que; þó, though, Germ. doch; mý, a gnat, cp. Germ. mücke; ljó-s and ljó-mi, light; þjó, thigh: the strong verbal forms, infin., slá, Germ. schlagen; flá, flay; þvá, to wash, qs. slag, flag, þvag: the pret. and pres. forms, á, ought; má, might; kná, can, from eiga, mega; as also slæ and sló, hlæ and hló, laugh; vá, from vega; lá, from liggja; spá, to spae, but spakr, wise, cp. Lat. -spicio; þá, from þiggja; frá, from fregna; hjó, from höggva; bjó and byggja; trúa and tryggja; trúr, true, and tryggr, trusty; Freyja and Frigg. The Scandinavian languages have rejected all guttural sounds, and even in writing the contraction is not marked, the change having taken place long before writing began; whereas in Engl., although the same phonetic change has taken place, the old Saxon spelling is still kept, because the change was of much later date (15th century?), when the old sound was fixed in writing: but the Icel. spelling accords better with the sound.

3. absorption of dentals; only in a few cases, as nál, needle, Goth, naþal; vál, misery, A.S. vädl begging or ambitus; hvárr (uter), from hvaðarr (cp. Engl. whether); hvárt, whether; fjó-rir, an older form is preserved in the old Swed. county-name Fjaðrundaland, the Fourth land, cp. Lat. quatuor: Gormr is contr. from Goð-ormr (Guthrum of the A.S. Chronicle); Hrólfr, Ralph, from Hroðulfr, Rudolph.

4. absorption of the semi-consonant v and the like, as ný-r new, sál soul, Goth, savila; and contr. in forms such as mey, maid, for mavi, whence Goth, mavila = mey-la = girl; ey, for avi; hey, hay, for havi, and many other words.

5. in Icel. (as in Latin) all monosyllables ending in a vowel are long, therefore even the names of the letters of the alphabet are sounded so, (á, bé, cé, not a, be, ce.)

The Ablaut, or Variation of Vowels, as Jacob Grimm calls it. This variation is chiefly found in the strong verbs, esp. in the pret. tense; but also in nouns and adjectives:

I. in those root words whose strong verbs still exist, e.g. lið, troops, and leið. a way; rið, trembling, and reið, riding; snið and sneið, a slice; grip and greip, q.v.; drif, splash, and dreif, spray; svif, turn, and sveif, a helm; klif and kleif, a cliff; ris, rising, and reisa, to raise; rit, a writ, and reitr, beds, a square; bit, a bit, and beit, bite, grazing; lit, a look, and leiti, a hill in the horizon; blik, blink, and bleikr, pale; vik, a nook, and vík, an inlet; roði, ruddiness, rauðr, red, and rjóðr, ruddy; Goti and Gautr, q.v.; not, nautn, use, and njótr, a mate; klofi, a cleft, and klauf, a clove; rof and rauf, a rift; rok, splash, and reykr (rauk), reek; flog and flaug, flight; sopi and saup, a sip; gröf (graf-), a grave, and gróf, a ditch; hlað and hlóð, a structure; gal, crowing, and gól, howling; drep, a stroke, and dráp, slaying; eta, a manger, and át, eating; geta and gát, getting; set and sát, a seat; skeri, a cutter, and skári, a swathe, etc.

II. in roots where the verb is either lost, or only found in the cognate languages or dialects (Goth., A.S., Engl.), the vowels a, ó, œ vary, hani, a cock, and hœna (hón), a hen; ein-man, solitude, and mœna, Lat. im-minere; bati and bót, bettering; dagr and dœgr (dóg), a day; dalr and dœld, a dale; hagr and hœgr, easy; skaði and skœðr (skóð), scathe; net and nót, a net; kaf and kóf, choking; sök (sak), sake, and sœkja (sók), to seek; kraki, a twig, and krókr, a crook; haki, a hook, hœkja, a crutch, and haka, a chin; sama and sœma (sómi), to beseem:

—irreg. variation of o, au, doði, torpor, and dauðr, death; dofi, numbness, and daufr, deaf; froða and frauðr, froth; snoðinn, shorn, and snauðr, poor; baugr, a ring, bogi, a bow, and bjúgr, crooked; bloti and blautr, wet; losa, to loosen, and lauss, loose; lofa and leyfa (lauf), to praise; togi and taug, a string; glufa and gljúfr, a chasm; guma and geyma (gaum), to heed; tamr, tame, and taumr, a bridle; gap, gap, and gaupn, q.v.:

i, ei vary, hiti, heat, and heitr, hot; digna and deigr, wet; sviti and sveiti, sweat; fita and feiti, fatness; sili and seil, a string; gil and geil, a chasm, etc.

III. in many cases there is only one derived form, e.g. dá (from deyja), a swoon; þága (from Þiggja), acceptance; nám (from nema), seizing; kváma (from koma), coming; reiðr (from vríða), wroth, prop, wry, distorted. It is worth noticing that the intermediate classes of the strong verbs (the 2nd to the 5th) gave rise to most words and forms, whereas in the 6th no nouns were formed from the preterite, very few in the 1st class:

—for spuni (spinning), bruni (burning), runi, sultr, fundr, sprunga, stunga, drykkr, band, hjálp (help), hvarf—nouns related to the 1st class—are partly irregular and not directly formed from the verb; and faldr (a fold), hald, fall, bland, gangr, hangi, fang, ráð, blástr, grátr, lát, heit, leikr, blót, auki, ausa, hlaup, bú, högg—nouns related to the 6th class—seem to be formed, not from the pret., but from the infinitive. Many words throughout the language indicate ablaut and lost verbs, e.g. breið-r, broad; hvítr, white; hveiti, wheat; deili, distinction; hreinn, pure; beinn, straight; leifa = Gr. λεΐπω (lifa, leif); draumr, a dream; naumr, tight, etc. etc. But great caution is needed here; the form of a word is not sufficient to prove etymology, and in many cases the likeness is only apparent; thus gnaga (to gnaw) and gnógr (enough), or bak (back) and bók (a book) are not related, though skaði and skœðr are. In respect to umlaut the mere form of the word is in most cases conclusive; but the ablaut, in many cases, requires examination, although hundreds of words may still be explained by it.

It is interesting to compare the Latin irregular verbs with the strong Teutonic verbs, especially those which are etymologically related; the pret. and pres. sing., Icel. and Lat., are the best tenses for comparison:

α. pres., Icel. et and ĕdo, sit and sēdeo, les and lĕgo, kem and vĕnio, fel and se-pēlio, hef and -cĭpio, ber and părio, ek and ăgo, mel and mòlo, veð and vădo, dreg and trăho, veg and vēho, stend and sto.

β. pret., át and ēdi, sátu and sēdi, lásu and lēgi, kvámu and vēni, fálu and se-pēli, hóf and cēpi, báru and peperi, ók and ēgi, mól and molui, óð and va-si, dróg and traxi (trah-si), vóg and vexi (veh-si), stóð and stēti.

γ. Latin words with inserted m, n may be compared with the Icel. 2nd and 3rd classes, which are only two branches of the same kind of words; the í and the inserted j in Icel. are a kind of equivalent to the inserted m, n in Latin; thus Icel. brjóta braut and Lat. frango frēgi, rjúfa rauf and rumpo rūpi, míga meig and mingo minxi, sníða sneið and scindo scĭdi, þjóta þaut and tundo tŭtŭdi, strjúka strauk and stringo strinxi, bíta beit and findo fĭdi: weak forms, sleikja and lingo, leifa and linguo, auka jók and jungo junxi; cp. also Goth, tiuhan tauh, Germ. zieben zog, and Lat. duco duxi (duc-si); Icel. tjá (to say) and Lat. dicere, and many others.

In the Gothic the preterite is almost like the Icel., thus (compared with table, p. xxii), Goth, brinnan, brann, brunnum; biudan, bauþ, buþum; reisan, rais, risum; faran, fór, fórum; giban, gab, gébum (Goth, é answers to Icel. á): in case of reduplication the same vowel is not repeated, but changed for the sake of euphony, thus grétan, gaigrót; hlaupan, hlaihlaup (not grégrét or hlauhlaup); this accounts for the fact that the ablaut is heterogeneous, viz. does not change a into á, u into ú, etc., as in simple absorption (see above), but into a different kind of vowel, e.g. fara, fór; geta, gátu; bjóða, bauð, buðu; falla, féll, etc. This, as well as a comparison with the Latin and Greek irregular verbs, seems to shew that the strong verbs in the Teutonic languages are akin to the irregular and reduplicated in Latin and Greek, although in a contracted form. The characteristic of weak verbs is the formation of the preterite by inserting an auxiliary verb between the root and inflexion, heyr-ð-a (hear-d-I); the characteristic of strong verbs is the formation of the preterite by reduplication, which in most cases remains only in a contracted form. There seems to be no other way of forming the preterite. In Gothic, out of about 130 strong verbs, about 26 are still reduplicated, chiefly belonging to the 6th class; some few of the others, e.g. taka, to take, are reduplicated in Gothic.

The classes have here been arranged simply according to the number of words in each; they might have been arranged as follows:

α. those in which the long vowel remains through both numbers (the 4th and 6th classes).

β. those in which it remains only in one number, that one being short (the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th).

γ. those in which it is short in both numbers (the 1st class). That in the 5th class the long vowel originally belonged to both sing. and plur. is shewn by eta, pret. sing, át; the short vowel in one or both numbers of the preterite is probably a corruption, though old, as it is so even in the Gothic. The ablaut belongs to the earliest stage of the language, and the long vowels thus formed are far more ancient than those caused by simple absorption; centuries must have elapsed between the formation, for instance, of the á in át or sát and in áss or átta, and long afterwards there was a distinction in the pronunciation, the former being pure long vowels, whereas the latter retained a nasal or guttural sound from the absorbed consonant. For the nasals see Lyngbye in Tidskrift for Philol., Copenhagen, vol. ii.

In a few cases the Icel. has a long vowel, which is merely due to phonetic causes:

I. a, o, and u are sounded and spelt long before the double consonants lf, lk, lm, lp. thus kálf-r, a calf; hálf-r, half; sjálf-r, self; sálm-r, a psalm; hálm-r, halm or straw; málm-r (Dan. and Swed. malm), metal; úlf-r, a wolf; hjálpa, to help; skjálfa, to shudder; álpt, a swan; gólf, a floor; tólf, twelve; álka, an auk; bálkr, a balk; fálki, a falcon; fólk, folk; mjólk, milk; gálgi, the gallows; bólga, ólga, etc.; so also háls, qs. hals, a neck; frjáls, qs. frjals. The true pronunciation only remains in skalf, skulfu, not skálf, skúlfu. This was in fact the first step towards absorption of the l as in other languages (e.g. Engl. auk, haum), but in Icel. it remained incomplete. In popular Norse the old simple vowels are still sounded (Ivar Aasen) as well as in modern Danish and Swedish, which shews that this change is purely Icel. and must have taken place after the separation from Norway; yet it is old, as we see from old MSS., Ann. Reg. of the end of the 13th century, that at that time the present pronunciation was in use; hardly any other MSS. distinguish between short and long vowels.

II. in íng, úng, which are spelt and pronounced with a long vowel instead of a short, ing, ting. In this Dictionary the long vowels á and ú are kept in the former case (álfr, álmr, hálmr), but in the latter case always the short, ing, ung, tunga, not túnga; angi, not ángi; as also lengi, not leingi.

Again, in a few instances a long vowel has passed into a short, viz. in the possessive pronoun minn þinn sinn, neuter mitt þitt sitt, which the ancients wrote and pronounced mínn þínn sínn, mítt þítt sítt, cp. the Goth, meins, Germ. mein, etc.; even in MSS., as the Fb. (14th century latter part), we find mijtt, i.e. mítt: the word illr, evil, ill, is usually spelt so, but is still frequently pronounced íllr, íllt, which is the true form, the long vowel being due to the contraction, cp. Germ. übel, Engl. evil; (Icel. say mér er ílt, not illt): drottinn, drottning, and drottna, instead of dróttinn, dróttning, and dróttna; gott for gótt; (the Ann. Reg. spells dróttning.) The distinction (by an acute) between a long and short vowel was a century ago resumed in Icel. printed books, so as to follow the present pronunciation; and since etymology and comparison with foreign languages support this practice, with the few exceptions now mentioned, it has been retained in modern Editions as well as in modern writing.

β. the syllable is in modern usage throughout changed into vo, svá svo, tvá tvo, vátr votr, ván von, vápn vopn, etc., but the vowel change remains as before, e.g. væta wetness, vænta to expect, etc.; hánum (him) is changed into honum: ve sometimes changes into u or y, Sigurðr = Sigvarðr, dögurðr and dagverðr, yrkja from verk: or into œ, Svenskr and Sœnskr, Swedish; kœmi and kvæmi, veniret; sœfi and svæfi, dormiret, etc.: this and other less important vowel changes are noticed in the Dictionary, especially in the introduction to each letter.

Formation by way of Inflexions

Words are either formed from verbs or from nouns or roots.

A. From verbs:

I. from the 1st weak conjugation feminines are formed by adding -n to the infinitive, boða-n, announcement; skipa-n, order; hugga-n, comfort; skapa-n, creation; iðra-n, repentance; helga-n, hallowing: vitra-n, vision; hindra-n, hindrance; tálma-n, id.; játa-n, confession; neita-n, denial; hugsa-n, thinking; hegða-n, conduct; blessa-n, blessing; bölva-n, cursing; undra-n, admiration; efa-n, doubting; fjölga-n, multiplication; lífga-n, calling to life; holdga-n, incarnation; ætla-n, opinion; prédika-n, a sermon; prenta-n, printing; menta-n, breeding; tapa-n, perdition; kalla-n, vocation; vara-n, admonition; svala-n, refreshing; langa-n, desire; hreinsa-n, purification; saurga-n, pollution; byrja-n, beginning; dýrka-n, worship; betra-n, bettering; rotna-n, rotting, decomposition; vísna-n and fölna-n, withering; hnígna-n, decay; una-n, charm (4th conjugation), etc.

In mod. usage the -an is often changed into -un, thus köllun and kallan, iðrun and iðran, byrjun and byrjan, the later form being even the more usual. This change freq. occurs even in very old MSS., e.g. skemton, Mork. 72, 168; etlon, devise, 10, 34; vingon, friendship, 166, 178; eptir-leiton, seeking, 168; flimton, reviling, 28.

II. from the 2nd weak conjugation feminines are formed in -ing, which is added to the root, dœm-ing, judgment, damnation; fylk-ing, a rank or host; leys-ing, loosening; kenn-ing, doctrine; lík-ing, likeness, parable; virð-ing, esteem; hegn-ing and hirt-ing, chastisement; birt-ing, brightening, publication; þekk-ing, knowledge; læg-ing, humiliation; melt-ing, digestion; send-ing, despatch; legg-ing, laying; freist-ing, temptation; fyll-ing, fulfilment; bygg-ing, building; rign-ing, pouring with rain; fœð-ing, birth; lær-ing, teaching; sœm-ing, beseeming; grœð-ing, healing; upp-frœð-ing, information; tæl-ing and ginn-ing, deception; aðgrein-ing, distinction; menn-ing, manliness; hring-ing, pealing; deil-ing, division; beyg-ing and hneig-ing, inflexion; bend-ing, beckoning; lend-ing, alighting; end-ing finishing; gerð-ing, hedging; eld-ing, lighting; efn-ing, fulfilment; þreyng-ing, pressing; and a great many others: a few, as kerling a carling, þrenn-ing trinity, ein-ing unity, are formed from nouns, as are also the masculines in -ingr; lækn-ing, healing, from lækna, að, is irregular or refers to a lost strong verb.

The feminines in -an and -ing are counted by hundreds.

III. from the 3rd weak conjugation and from the strong verbs, feminines are formed in -ning:

—from the 3rd weak, glað-ning, gladdening; kvað-ning, greeting; sað-ning, filling; vaf-ning, entanglement; hrak-ning, tossing; vak-ning, awakening; tal-ning, counting; sam-ning, agreement; tam-ning, taming; ar-ning, tilling; far-ning, passage; var-ning, ware; hvat-ning, exhortation; set-ning, a position, thesis; lag-ning, laying down; skil-ning, understanding, discerning; ruð-ning, clearing; stuð-ning, upholding; smur-ning, smearing, anointing; spur-ning, speering, asking; flut-ning, carrying; á-ning, baiting (æja), etc.

β. from the strong verbs, rit-ning, writing; lot-ning, ‘louting,’ veneration (lúta); get-ning, begetting; kos-ning, election; soð-ning, cooking; les-ning, gleaning; ráð-ning, rebuke (ráða); frá-drag-ning, subtraction; uppal-ning, breeding; hlút-tek-ning, partaking; haf-ning, elevation (hefja); upp-stig-ning, ascension (stíga); snú-ning, turning (snúa); nú-ning, rubbing (gnúa): bú-ningr, dress (búa), is masc.: gör-ning, a deed (göra), shews that this word has had a strong inflexion: ját-ning, confession (játa, tt), is irregular from the 3rd weak conjugation: drótt-ning, a mistress, a queen, is formed from dróttinn, a lord.

This n is undoubtedly a remnant of the part. pass. In the case of the 3rd weak conjugation, this formation is an evidence that the participles in -inn were of early growth; it is curious that feminines in -ning were formed even from verbs in which that participle is not used, e.g. glað-ning, from gleðja, see p. xxiv. Some of the above words are in modern usage also masculine, e.g. barning and barningr, skilning and skilningr, görning and görningr; but the feminine is older and more correct.

2. a few masculines in -naðr are also formed from the same verbs, e.g. þrif-naðr, thrift (þrífa): snú-naðr, profit (snúa); bú-naðr, husbandry (búa); met-naðr, ambition (meta); get-naðr, begetting (geta); skap-naðr, shape (skapa): skil-naðr, departing (skilja): from other verbs, her-naðr, harrying, freebooting (herja); as also kost-naðr, cost (kosta); spar-naðr, saving (spara); trú-naðr, trust (trúa); té-naðr, help (tœja); fé-naðr, cattle; dug-naor, energy (duga); lif-naðr, living (lífa): unaðr, delight (una); verk-naðr, working (yrkja); fögn-uðr, joy; jöfn-uðr, equity; hagn-aðr, comfort; sökn-uðr, sorrow (for a lost thing); söfn-uðr, congregation; vörn-uðr, caution; árn-aðr, intercession; þjóf-naðr, theft; (mán-uðr, a month, is different.)

Altogether different are the old words, höl-ðr a hero, fröm-uðr a promoter, grönduðr a destroyer; mjöt-uðr, A.S. meotod = ruler; these words are very few, mostly poetical, and are used in an active sense, (see Grimm’s Gr. iii. 241.)

IV. feminines in -sla are formed from the 2nd weak conjugation, skír-sla, ordeal; geym-sla, keeping; fœð-sla, food; kenn-sla, teaching; frœð-sla, information; eyð-sla. spending; víg-sla, inauguration; reyn-sla, experience; gæt-sla, guarding, keeping; greið-sla, payment; veit-sla, banquet; hræð-sla, fright; fœr-sla, shifting; neyt-sla, taking food; bœn-heyr-sla, grant; reið-sla, leiðsla, herð-sla, hirð-sla, etc.; often spelt with z, veizla, etc.

V. the monosyllabic feminines in -n are chiefly formed from the roots of verbs, not from the infinitive; heyr-n, hearing; spur-n, speering, news; skír-n, baptism; eig-n, owning, possession; sög-n, a saw, saying, tale; þög-n, silence; vör-n, defence; stjór-n, sway; sók-n, prosecution; fýs-n, desire; auð-n, voidness; fór-n, offerings; freg-n, news; ið-n, activity; njós-n, espying; laus-n, freedom; raus-n, liberality; gaup-n, a gowpen; sjó-n and sý-n, sight; þjá-n, oppression; smá-n, disgrace; bae-n, begging; lík-n, healing, mercy; óg-n, awe, etc., but not very many; a few are from adjectives, as feik-n immensity, tig-n lordship, from feikinn immense, tiginn lordly: auð-na luck, stjar-na a star.

VI. masculines in -dr (-tr) :

1. with a radical r; al-dr, age (ala); gal-dr, spell (gala); hjal-dr, sound, battle (hjala); hlá-tr, laughter; lá-tr, litter (liggja); ar-ðr, a plough (erja); gró-ðr, growth (gróa); ró-ðr, rowing (róa); les-tr, gleaning, reading (lesa).

2. with inflexive r; stul-ðr, theft (stela); bur-ðr, birth (bera); skur-ðr, a cut (skera); vör-ðr, a warder (verja); þur-ðr, wane (þverra); gröf-tr, digging, burial (grafa); vöx-tr, growth (vaxa); fun-dr, finding; kos-tr, chose (kjósa); má-ttr, might; þvá-ttr, a wash; drá-ttr, a draught; slá-ttr (cp. Engl. slaughter), mowing; há-ttr, mode (haga); snú-ðr (snúa), a twirl; blás-tr, a blast: ó-tti, awe (óg); fió-tti, flight (flýja); þó-tti, conceit (þykkja); skjálf-ti, trembling: cp. also kul-ði, cold; fjöl-ði, multitude; van-ði, custom;—which however are not formed from verbs.

VII. in -st, -str, masc., fem., and neut.; bak-str, baking; rak-str, raking; rek-str, a drove; þor-sti, thirst (purr); trau-st, trust (from trua); fre-st, delay (from firra); ri-st, step, cp. Engl. wrist; and rei-str, a serpent, poët. (from vríða, to writhe); ba-st (from binda); flau-st (from fljóta), etc.

B. From nouns and roots


I. with inflexive n, r, l,

1. in -inn, -unn, a few words; apt-ann, evening; jöt-unn, a giant; him-inn, heaven; drótt-inn, a lord; morg-inn, morning; ar-inn, hearth: in pr. names, Óð-inn, Þrá-inn, etc.; Auð-unn.

2. in -urr, -arr; fjöt-urr, a fetter; þið-urr, wood-grouse; jöf-urr, cp. Germ. eber; töt-urr, tatters; kög-urr and köng-urr, texture; jað-arr, a rim; ham-arr, a hammer; hum-arr, a lobster; naf-arr, a gimlet; goll-urr, q.v.; gag-arr, q.v.; sum-arr, summer (obsolete as masc.): in pr. names, Bjálm-arr, Ein-arr, Böðv-arr, Stein-arr, Ótt-arr, Gunn-arr, Ív-arr, Agn-arr, Yngv-arr, Ragn-arr, Gizurr, Við-arr, Ulf-arr, etc. are of a different kind, viz. the latter part = -hari or -here or -hard, thus Gunnarr = Gundehere; Einarr = Einhard.

The pr. names in -an are chiefly of Gaelic origin, thus Bek-an, Kjart-an, Kalm-an, Kvar-an, Hnok-an, Kjar-an, Kýl-an, Feil-an, Bjól-an, Duf-an, Koðr-an, Kamb-an, Lun-an, Trost-an, etc., see Landn.

3. in -ull, -ill; jök-ull, an icicle; kögg-ull, articulus; röð-ull, an edge; söð-ull, a saddle; mönd-ull, axle tree; skök-ull, a shaft; þöng-ull, a stalk of seaweed; öng-ull, a hook; rið-ull, a detachment of troops; bit-ull, a mouth-piece; tig-ull, a brick, a square; seg-ull, a magnet; stop-ull, a steeple; fer-ill, a track; snig-ill, a snail; lyk-ill, a key; þist-ill, thistle; fif-ill, dandelion; bið-ill, a wooer; ket-ill, a kettle; ref-ill, tapestry; hnyk-ill, a clew; skut-ill, a harpoon; dras-ill, a charger, horse; beit-ill, a herb; smyr-ill, a hawk; dep-ill, a blot; hef-ill, brails; hvirf-ill, the crown of the head: foreign, eng-ill, an angel; kynd-ill, a candle.

Many of these were originally diminutives, but most of them have lost that sense, as jökull from jaki.

β. in -all; kað-all, a chain; vað-all, shallow water; kap-all, a horse.

II. a few diminutives in -lingr; ket-lingr, a kitten; kið-lingr, a kidling; yrm-lingr, Lat. vermicula; bœk-lingr, Lut. libellus; ung-lingr, a youngling, youth.

III. in -ungr and -ingr, -lingr:

1. patronymic in plur.; Nífl-ungar, Germ. Niebelung; Völs-ungar, Skjöld-ungar, Skán-ungar, Kufl-ungar; Gyð-ingar, Jews; Vng-lingar, Knyt-lingar: in -lendingr, Grœn-lendingar, etc.: in -firðingar, Vest-firðingar; Vík-ingar, Vikings, etc.

2. in many poët. words; siklingr, öðlingr, an etheling; mildingr; hildingr: in pr. names, Erl-ingr, Hær-ingr, etc.

3. other words; kon-ungr, a king; sifj-ungr, a kinsman (poët.); brœðr-ungr and systr-ungr, a cousin; ná-ungr. a neighbour (eccl.); helm-ingr, a half; fjórð-ungr, the fourth part, a farthing; fimt-ungr, the fifth part; sétt-ungr, the sixth part; átt-ungr, the eighth part; vetr-ungr and geml-ingr, a yearling; höfr-ungr, a dolphin; öld-ungr, an elder; bún-ingr, dress; görn-ingr, a deed; sköfn-ungr, a shin-bone; gár-ungr, a jester; spek-ingr, a philosopher; vitr-ingr, a wise man; þuml-ungr, an inch; grað-ungr, a bull: of boats, sexœr-ingr, six-oared; áttœr-ingr, eight-oared; teinœr-ingr, ten-oared; byrð-ingr, a ship of burden.

IV. in -ingi; höfð-ingi, a captain; ætt-ingi, a kinsman; heið-ingi, a heathen; band-ingi, a prisoner; fœð-ingi, a native; leys-ingi, a free man; ræn-ingi, a robber; morð-ingi, a murderer; let-ingi, a lazy man; aum-ingi, a poor wretch; œr-ingi, a springal; sæl-ingi, an epicurean; Skræl-ingi, an Esquimaux; kunn-ingi, a friend; lœm-ingi, a bird.

V. in -undr; höf-undr, an author: völ-undr, q.v.; vís-undr, a bison: in -uni (obsolete), arf-uni, an heir; sif-uni, Goth, siponeis, a disciple; beim-uni, etc., Lex. Poët.

VI. in -ari, especially words such as dóm-ari, a doomster, judge; les-ari, a reader; skrif-ari, rit-ari, a writer; skap-ari, creator; skír-ari, baptist; gjaf-ari, giver; grœð-ari, healer; Lausn-ari, Frels-ari, Redeemer;- Keis-ari, Kaiser; mút-ari (poët.); vart-ari; ridd-ari, a knight; stall-ari, stabularius; kval-ari, tormenter:

—there are few of these words in old writers, but they have increased, especially in nouns denoting business, leik-ari, a jester; skó-ari, a shoe-maker; vef-ari, a weaver; prœnt-ari, a printer; söngv-ari, a singer, musician; skinn-ari, sút-ari, bak-ari, fiðl-ari, þóf-ari, hatt-ari; rœð-ari, an oarsman,—some of which occur in olden times; foreign, kjall-ari, a cellar; salt-ari, a psalter: in -ali, -li, a few words, aði-li; rang-ali, a lobby; skark-ali, tumult; taf-ali, trouble; saf-ali, a sable; kast-ali, a castle; in -aldi, glóp-aldi, digr-aldi, Tas-aldi, þumb-aldi, leggj-aldi, hím-aldi, ribb-aldi, a very few words.

VII. in -andi, active participles; veg-andi, a slayer; bú-andi or bón-di (hús-bó-ndi, Engl. husband); fjá-ndi, a foe; fræ-ndi, a kinsman; and numberless participles when used as substantives, e.g. grát-andi, weeper; eig-andi, owner; fagn-endr, heyr-andi, etc.

VIII. in -si; van-si, disgrace; of-si, passion; gal-si,gaiety.


I. in -d, -ð, or -t, formed chiefly from adjectives, and feminine also in cognate languages (e.g. old Germ. -ida); a vowel change takes place wherever the root vowel is changeable; the d, ð, and t are phonetical changes depending on the final letter. In this way a great many feminines (more than a hundred) are formed, hæ-ð, height; dýp-ð, depth; víd-d, width; breid-d, breadth; leng-d, length; fæ-ð, fewness; merg-ð, multitude; stœr-ð, size; þyk-t, thickness; þyng-d, heaviness; erf-ð, inheritance; grim-d, ferocity; heil-d, wholeness; helf-t, a half; deil-d, a share; grein-d, distinction; frem-d, q.v.; sœm-d, honour; eilif-ð, eternity; tryg-ð, fidelity; hryg-ð, sorrow; sek-t guilt; spek-t, wisdom; nek-t, nakedness; hefn-d, revenge; nefn-d, a committee; vern-d, protection; gren-d, vicinity; vil-d, willingness; girn-d, desire; dirf-ð, daring; dýr-ð, glory; lyg-ð, a lie; kyr-ð, calmness; hvíl-d, rest; reyn-d, experience; eym-d, misery; deyf-ð, numbness; leyn-d, secrecy; fræg-ð, fame; gnœg-ð, wealth; hœg-ð, ease; væg-ð, mercy; mæg-ð, affinity; vinsæl-d, popularity; væn-d, expectation; fegr-ð, beauty; megr-ð, meagreness; feig-ð, feyness; mýk-ð, meekness: all in -sem-d, skyn-sem-d, reason; unað-sem-d, delight; and many others formed from nouns and adjectives indiscriminately.

Of a different kind are hul-d, mysery; skyl-d, debt; afund-d, envy; nán-d, neighbourhood; vis-t, abiding; frét-t, news; dyg-ð, virtue; gnót-t, abundance; sót-t, sickness; sæt-t, settlement: and still more nát-t, night; röd-d, voice; and similar words, which can be seen if compared with kindred languages (Germ., Saxon).

II. in -ska, prop. -iska, and thus causing umlaut; bern-ska, childhood; mæl-ska, eloquence; gœð-ska, grace; græ-ska, spite; gleym-ska, forgetfulness; fyrn-ska, age, decay; vit-ska, wisdom; menn-ska, manhood (and in compds, ragmenn-ska, cowardice; karlmenn-ska, valour; góð-mennska, gentleness; íll-mennska, cruelty; ú-m., sloth; var-m., meanness, etc.); heim-ska, foolishness; el-ska, love; íl-ska, and vánd-ska, evil passion; œr-ska, youth; fífl-ska, folly; dæl-ska, liberty; tíð-ska and lýð-ska, usage, custom; kœn-ska, craft: in names of people or their tongues, En-ska, English; Sœn-ska, Swedish; Grik-ska, Greek; Ír-ska, Irish: irreg. and without umlaut, in Val-ska, Welsh; Spán-ska, Spanish: in -eskja, or neskja, inserting n, forn-eskja, antiquity; vitn-eskja, knowledge; flat-neskja, flat land, plain, level; mann-eskja, a man (mod.); harð-neskja,harshness, harness.

III. indecl. fem. in -i, -gi, -ni, formed from adjectives; bræð-i anger, from bráðr hot; mœð-i from móðr; hreyst-i valour, from hraustr; helt-i lameness, from haltr lame, etc. see p. xviii.

IV. in -osta (-usta), a few words; orr-osta, fight (cp. Germ. ernst); fulln-usta, fulfilment; holl-usta, homage; kunn-usta, knowledge (Germ. kunst); þjón-usta, service (Germ. dienst); for-osta, headship; unn-usta, a spouse, (unn-usti, m. a lover.)

V. in -átta, a few words; við-átta, abroad; kunn-átta, knowledge; bar-átta, battle; veðr-átta, weather, temperature, (for-átta, q.v., is different.)

VI. in -ung; hörm-ung, vexation; laun-ung, secrecy; laus-ung, looseness; nauð-ung, constraint; háð-ung, indignity; sundr-ung, scattering; verð-ung (poët.),king’s household.

VII. in -und, a few words; þús-und, thousand; hör-und, Lat. cutis; teg-und, species, kind; öf-und, spite; vit-und, knowledge; tí-und, teind, tithe; átt-und, the eighth part, fjaðr-und (obsolete): in local names, as Sól-und, Borg-und (Burgundy), Eik-und; þús-und and hör-und are also used as neut.

2. in -ynja, Lat. -ina, a very few words; ás-ynja, a goddess; for-ynja, an ogre; úlf-ynja and varg-ynja, a she-wolf, lup-ina: mod. -inna, keisara-inna, is scarcely used, and is borrowed through Dan. from Germ. and cannot therefore be called Icel.

VIII. special; in -ingja, ham-ingja, luck: in -sa, heil-sa,health.

IX. a kind of diminutive; in -la, hrís-la, a little twig; hynd-la, Lat. caninula (Mar. 494. v. l.); tvævet-la, a ewe two years old: in -ka, stúl-ka, qs. staul-ka (from stauli), a girl.

Different are hál-ka, slippiness; hlá-ka, thaw: har-ka, hardness: as also -ga in mæð-gur,mother and daughter.

2. in a few names of mares; Mús-ka, a mouse-grey mare; Brún-ka, black; Rauð-ka, red; Ljós-ka, light: in -na (and -ni masc.), also of horses, Skjó-na and Skjó-ni, pie-bald; Grá-na and Grá-ni, grey: in -lín, cp. Germ. -lein, of cows, Hringa-lín, Randa-lín, etc.


I. the derivated neuters in -i (see p. xviii); they are formed from adjectives or from roots of words, as -leysi want, from -lauss; félauss penniless, whence féleysi ‘pennilessness;’ ríki might, kingdom, from ríkr mighty; lýti fault, from ljótr ugly; œði madness, from óðr mad; gœði goods, from góð good; frelsi freedom, from frjáls free; ágæti goodness, from ágætr good. They sometimes have a collective sense; and in compounds any word may become neuter, regardless of its gender when simple, e.g. -berni from barn, a bairn; -menni from maðr (stór-menni, ung-menni, góð-menni, íll-menni); -gresi from gras, (íll-gresi weeds, blom-gresi flowers); -neyti from nautr, (föru-neyti, fellowship); al-þingi, but þing; vald and veldi, power; nafn and -nefni, a name; stafn and stefni, a stem; band and -bendi, a siring; garðr and -gerði, a fence; ból and -bœli, a den; land and -lendi; sáð and sæði, seed; lund and -lyndi, temper; orð and -yrði, a word; fugl and -fygli, a fowl; munnr and -mynni, mouth; helsi a necktie, from háls a neck; vætti testimony, from váttr a witness; hall-æri a bad season, famine, from ár a year; eðli and aðal, nature;—indeed any word may thus be changed into neuter.

2. in -endi; eyr-endi, errand; kvik-endi, a creature; heil-indi, health; væl-indi, gullet; chiefly only in plur., as vís-indi, science; hygg-endi, good sense; sann-indi, truth; tíð-indi, tidings; lík-indi, likelihood; hlunn-endi, endowments; dýr-endi, costly things; rang-indi, injustice; rétt-indi, rights; leið-indi, tediousness; harð-indi, a bad season; sár-indi, soreness; klók-endi, shrewdness; fríð-endi, fine things: in -erni, denoting kin, cp. Ulf. faþrein = πάτρα and γονεῖς, breþrahans = ἀδελφοί, whence Engl. brethren, cp. also Lat. -ernitas; fað-erni, bróð-erni, móð-erni, fatherhood, etc.; þjóð-erni, nationality (mod.); lund-erni, temper; líf-erni, conduct of life; besides sal-erni, síð-erni (q.v.): in -elsi, a very few words, reyk-elsi, incense; fang-elsi, a prison; hrokk-elsi, a stone grig, is prob. different: in -ildi, fífr-ildi, a butterfly; þykk-ildi, callousness: in -di, el-di, q.v. (ala); upp-el-di, education: in -in, bynd-in, a sheaf; aid-in, fruit: in -ili, heim-ili, home.

II. in -sl (-sli); brig-sl, rebuke; kyn-sl, prodigy; smyr-sl, ointment; þyng-sl, heaviness; bœg-sl, fins, (bógr, a bow) ; eym-sl, soreness; œxl (qs. œk-sl, from vaxa), excrescence; skrím-sl, a monster; œr-sl, mad pranks, (œrr, mad); bei-sl, a bridle; þyrm-sl, mercy; renn-sli, a watercourse.

2. in -sn; hœn-sn, poultry; ræk-sn, rags-; fylg-sni, q.v.

III. in -al, etc.; óð-al, a feud; með-al, medicine (mod.); að-al, nature: in -an, gam-an, joy; and a few other words but little used, e.g. ó-ár-an, a bad season; ó-lyfj-an, poison; ó-át-an, offal of food: in -in, -n, ald-in, fruit; meg-in, main power; reg-in, gods; meg-n, power; reg-n, rain; vat-n, water: in -gin, feð-gin, father and daughter; syst-kin, brother and sister; mœð-gin, mother and daughter: in -að, hér-að, a county; hundr-að, hundred; for-að, q.v.; höf-uð, a head: in -ald, kaf-ald, snow; fol-ald, a foal; ker-ald, a tub; haf-ald, q.v.; gím-ald, an opening; eisk-ald (poët.), heart; rek-ald, a wreck: in -arn, ís-arn (poët.), iron; ak-arn, an acorn; fó-arn, a crop; und-arn, afternoon: in -t, fros-t, frost, from frjósa: in -ang, hun-ang, honey.

The following are to be regarded in the light of compds:

I. masculines in -leikr and -leiki; kær-leikr, love; sann-leikr, truth; heilag-leiki, holiness, (many words): in -dómr, -dœmi (n.), Engl. -dom, Germ. -thum, helgi-dómr, holidom; Kristin-dómr, Christendom; heiðin-dómr, heathendom; mann-dómr, manhood; lær-dómr, learning; vís-dómr, wisdom; konung-dómr, kingdom; jarl-dómr, earldom, etc.: in -skapr, Germ. -schaft, vin-skapr, friendship; fjánd-skapr, enmity; félag-skapr, fellowship; skáld-skapr, poetry; fífl-skapr, folly; grey-skapr, meanness; greið-skapr, readiness, etc. (several words): in -angr, leið-angr, levy; far-angr, baggage, etc.

II. feminines in -úð and -ýðgi, contr. from hygð, cp. A.S. hygd; denoting temper, mind, öl-úð, sincerity; íll-úð, spite; var-úð, heedfulness; ást-úð, love; mann-úð, humanity; harð-úð, hardness; grimm-úð, cruelty; grunn-ýðgi, shallow mind, gullibility; harð-ýðgi, etc.: different are misk-unn, mercy; várk-unn, excuse (from unna, cp. afund, envy): in -semi from -samr, miskun-semi, mercy, etc.

III. neuters in -œfi; auð-œfi, riches; ör-œfi, wilderness (only in plur.): in -orð, akin to A.S. wyrth = weird = fate, goð-orð, priesthood; met-orð, dignity; gjaf-orð, marriage; vit-orð, intelligence; ban-orð, death weird; bón-orð, courting; lof-orð and heit-orð, promise; vátt-orð, testimony; leg-orð, q.v., in many of which it is simply derived from orð = word: in -lœti, from adjectives in -látr, rétt-læti, righteousness; ör-læti, liberality, etc.

Masculines in -dagi; bar-dagi, battle; ein-dagi, term; mál-dagi, a deed; skil-dagi, condition: feminine pr. names in -unnr, -ný, Stein-unnr, Ing-unn, Þór-unn, Sæ-unn, etc.; Sig-ný, As-ný, Þor-ný, etc.: in -beiðr or -eiðr, -ríðr, Ragn-eiðr, Sig-ríðr: masculine pr. names in -mundr, -ndr, -ðr, Guð-mundr, Þrá-ndr, Eyv-indr, Ön-undr, Bár-ðr (qs. Bár-röðr), Þór-ðr (qs. Þór-röðr), and many others.

AdjectivesThey are either simple, as fag-r, góð-r, sœt-r, or formed by inflexion:

I. in -ligr, Engl. -ly, Germ. -lich, in mod. usage spelt and pronounced -ligr, counted by hundreds,

α. twofold adjectives, e.g. sein-ligr (seinn, slow, and -ligr); eilíf-ligr, eternal; sæl-ligr (sæll); grimm-ligr (grimmr), vitr-ligr, fagr-ligr, harð-ligr, fram-ligr, spak-ligr, fróð-ligr, kát-ligr, hag-ligr, rang-ligr, hrein-ligr, góð-ligr, feig-ligr, hljóð-ligr (hljóðr, silent), væn-ligr, þung-ligr; veik-ligr, weakly; ung-ligr, heil-ligr; mín-ligr, like myself, etc.

β. with a binding vowel i or u, most of which seem to be formed from verbs; virðu-ligr, worthy (virða); mátu-ligr, deserved; kostu-ligr, costly (kosta); skipu-ligr, orderly (skipa); tigu-ligr, magnificent; ríku-ligr, rich, opulent; risu-ligr, elevated, grand;—often in mod. usage spelt with ug, virðug-ligr, ríkug-ligr, etc.: with i, sœmi-ligr, seeming (sœma); œski-ligr, desirable (œskja); hæði-ligr, ridiculous (hæða); œsi-ligr, violent (œsa): þægi-ligr, agreeable (þægja); drengi-ligr, bold; senni-ligr, probable (sanna); skyndi-ligr, sudden (skynda); æti-ligr, eatable (eta); hœfi-ligr, proper (hœfa); hyggi-ligr, prudent (hyggja); skemti-ligr, amusing (skemta); girni-ligr and fýsi-ligr, desirable (fýsa); glæsi-ligr, splendid (glæsa); leyni-ligr, a secret (leyna); heyri-ligr (heyra); eyði-ligr, empty (eyða); heppi-ligr, lucky; gæti-ligr, cautious (gæta); ílli-ligr, ill-looking.

γ. formed from nouns; dýrð-ligr, glorious; and-ligr, spiritual; hold-ligr, carnal; líkam-ligr, bodily; verald-ligr, worldly; Guð-ligr, godly; dag-ligr, daily; ár-ligr, yearly; stund-ligr, temporary; sið-ligr, well bred; mann-ligr, manly; gæfu-ligr, lucky; elli-ligr, aged; þrek-ligr, stout; undar-ligr, wonderful; vig-ligr, martial; grát-ligr, wailing; hlœg-ligr, laughable; kvenn-ligr, womanlike; karlmann-ligr, manly; hóf-ligr, moderate; hégóm-ligr, vain: inserting s, yndis-ligr, charming.

δ. with double inflexion; heilag-ligr, holy; vesal-ligr, wretched; mikil-ligr. grand; gamal-ligr, old-looking; frœkn-ligr, valiant; að-dáan-ligr, wonderful; ymis-ligr, various; heimol-ligr, intimate.

II. participial adjectives:

1. as from strong verbs,

α. participles of strong verbs, in -inn.

β. participial adjectives from lost verbs; bog-inn, bowed; tog-inn, stretched; hrokk-inn, curled; rot-inn, rotten; hok-inn, stooping; loð-inn, shaggy; las-inn, dilapidated; snoð-inn, shorn; fú-inn, rotten; bólg-inn, bulged, swoln; lú-inn, weary; sólg-inn, gloating,

γ. sundry adjectives formed from verbs with a radical n; heið-inn, heathen; Krist-inn, Christian; tig-inn, noble; feg-inn, fain; eig-inn, own; œr-inn, ample; yfr-inn, id.; op-inn, open.

δ. with a single n; jaf-n, even; for-n, old; gjar-n, willing; frœk-n, valiant; sýk-n, sackless; grœn-n, green (from groa).

ε. many adjectives denoting apt, given to, or the like; id-inn, busy, sedulous; hæð-inn, mocking; hrœs-inn, conceited; rœð-inn, talkative; kost-gæf-inn, painstaking; hygg-inn, prudent; gæt-inn, watchful; skrýt-inn, funny; hlýð-inn, obedient; lyg-inn, mendacious; gleym-inn, forgetful; skreit-inn, untruthful; breyt-inn, fickle, shifty; feim-inn, shy; kím-inn, ironical; grett-inn, frowning; bell-inn, tricking; rýn-inn, prying; frétt-inn, enquiring; hitt-inn, hitting; styrf-inn, peevish; slys-inn, hapless; hepp-inn, happy, lucky; úf-inn, rough; glím-inn, a nimble wrestler; send-inn, sandy, etc.

2. as from weak verbs: in -aðr; participles, tal-aðr, boð-aðr, kall-aðr, etc.: participial, aldr-aðr, aged; gaml-aðr, doted; vilj-aðr, willing; bless-aðr, blessed; bölv-aðr, cursed; hug-aðr, daring; ölv-aðr, tipsy: in -ðr, hær-ðr, hoary; lær-ðr, learned; reyn-dr, experienced; eyg-ðr, eyed; grein-dr, clever, discerning: different is kal-dr, cold, etc.

3. participles in -andi; les-andi, able to read: often in a gerundial sense, óþól-andi, intolerable; óhaf-andi, unfit: óver-andi; óger-andi, impossible, etc.: from those in -andi come the EngL words in -ing, d being changed into g.

III. in -igr, -ugr, -agr; in Goth. etc. all three forms are used indiscriminately; in Icel. the ancients prefer -igr, the modern -ugr; (-agr remains only in heil-agr, holy, from heil-l); auð-igr, wealthy; mátt-igr, mighty; blóð-igr, bloody; nauð-igr, unwilling; móð-igr, moody; göf-ugr, noble; öf-ugr, backward, inverse; höf-ugr, heavy; kunn-igr, known; þrótt-ugr and öfl-ugr, strong; örð-ugr, arduus; gráð-igr, greedy; vit-ugr, witty, clever; sið-ugr, well-bred; stöð-ugr, steady; synd-ugr, sinful; verð-ugr, worthy; minn-ugr, mindful; skyld-ugr, dutiful; heipt-igr, hating; kröpt-ugr, powerful; ráð-ugr, ready, sagacious; slótt-ugr, wily; leir-ugr, clayey; mold-ugr and ryk-ugr, dusty; snjó-ugr, snowy; hróð-ugr, exultant: in -úðigr, -minded; grimm-úðigr, fierce, etc.

2. simple forms, mostly poët., as spár-kar, prophecying; mein-gir, moaning, Lex. Poët.

IV. in -óttr, O.H.G. -oht, A.S. -iht, Germ. -icht; denoting colour, shape, etc.; dumb-ottr, dusky; skj-óttr, chequered; frekn-óttr, freckly; rönd-óttr, striped; flekk-óttr, q.v.; skjöld-óttr; brönd-óttr, brindled; dröfn-óttr, q.v.; bíld-óttr, sokk-óttr, bles-óttr, gols-óttr. bleikál-óttr, móál-óttr, vind-óttr, etc., all of colour: of shape, or, as Lat. -osus, denoting all over, covered with; knött-óttr, ball-shaped; tind-óttr, with peaks; bár-óttr, waved; kringl-óttr, round; hnöll-óttr, böll-óttr, ball-formed; hlykkj-óttr, crooked; göt-óttr, full of boles, ragged; sköll-óttr, bald; koll-óttr, humble (cow); hruf-óttr, rugged; hnýfl-óttr, etc.: = Lat. -osus, hrukk-óttr, rugosus; bylj-óttr, gusty; refj-óttr, crafty; göldr-óttr, a wily wizard; skerj-óttr, full of skerries; gör-óttr, poisoned; kvist-óttr, knotty; sök-ótt, having many enemies, etc. etc.:

—a rich harvest of such words is found in Hjaltalín’s Icel. Botany, rendering the Lat. technical terms in -osus.

V. in -all, -ull, -ill; lít-ill, little; mik-ill, great, muckle; gam-all, old; ves-all, poor: as a kind of iterative adjective, denoting frequency or tendency, hverf-ull, shifty, changeable; svik-all, false; gjöf-ull, open-handed þag-all, taciturn; spur-ull, speering, curious; stop-all, shifting; för-ull, vagrant; smug-all, penetrating; rös-ull, stumbling, tottering (of a horse); at-all, fierce; hvik-ull, wavering; göng-ull and reik-all, rambling; hug-all, minding, observing; ris-ull, early rising; sög-ull, telling tales; svip-all, shifty; (these words are not very numerous.)

In mod. usage -ull; þög-ull = þag-all; öt-ull, pert: but -all is kept in gam-all, ves-all.

VI. in -samr; hóf-samr, thrifty; skyn-samr, clever, intelligent; feng-samr, q.v.; lán-samr, lucky; sið-samr, upright, honest; frið-samr, peaceful; líkn-samr and miskun-samr, merciful; ró-samr, calm; grun-samr, suspicious; iðju-samr, busy; atorku-samr, starf-samr, hard-working; vorkun-samr, forbearing; rök-samr, officious; gaman-samr, merry; arð-samr, profitable; and many others.

VII. in -skr, Germ. -sch, Engl. -ish; bern-skr, childish; mæl-skr, eloquent; prjót-skr, stubborn; ní-skr, stingy; bei-skr, bitter; dæl-skr, easy; fífl-skr, foolish; heim-skr, silly; brei-skr, brittle; va-skr, kar-skr, hor-skr, rö-skr, vigorous; frí-skr, fresh: esp. in names of nations, Dan-skr, Danish; Sœn-skr, Swedish; En-skr, English; Ír-skr, Irish; Skot-skr, Scottish; Val-skr, Welsh; Grí-skr, Greek; Finn-skr, Finnish; Ger-skr, Russian; Bret-skr, British (i.e. Welsh) ; Gaut-skr, Gautish; in -eyskr, Suðr-eyskr, Orkn-eyskr, Fær-eyskr, from Sudor, the Orkneys, the Faroes: in -lend-skr, -lenzkr (-land), Ís-lenzkr, Icelandic; Grœn-lenzkr, Greenlandish (but Gren-skr of the county in Norway): in -dœl-skr (dalr): in -ver-skr (-verjar), Vík-verskr, Þjóð-verskr (German), Róm-verskr (Roman), formed from Vík-verjar, Þjóð-verjar, Róm-verjar (Romans):

in -neskr, Sax-neskr, Saxon; Got-neskr, Gothic; Frakk-neskr, Frankish or French:—this n belongs to the noun, cp. Saxon, Gotnar, Lat. Gothones: hence the mod. names (formed by a false analogy, since the noun has no n), Rúss-neskr, Russian; Prúss-neskr, Prussian, etc.: in appellatives, him-neskr, heavenly (himinn); jarð-neskr, earthly (irreg.)

VIII. in -œnn; cp. Goth, -ein; O.H.G. -in; A.S. -en; in five words, esp. denoting the quarters of heaven, austr-œnn, eastern; nor-œnn, northern, Norse; suðr-œnn, southern, Scot, southron; vestr-œnn, western: also aldr-œnn, aged;—in all these words the r seems to belong to the root: ut-rœnn, haf-rœnn, blowing from the sea, are mod. words formed by analogy: ein-rœnn, peculiar, odd, is qs. ein-rýnn; but how can we explain fjall-rœnn in Kristni S. ch. 6 in a verse of the year 998, unless this too is due to a false analogy?

IX. adjectives in -látr, -mannered; dramb-látr, stór-látr; mikil-látr, proud; lítil-látr, humble; vand-látr, zealous; rétt-látr, righteous; ör-látr, liberal; fá-látr, silent, cold; þakk-látr, thankful, etc.: in -leitr, -faced, looking, föl-leitr, pale; þykk-leitr, etc.: in -eygr, -eyed, fagr-eygr, fair-eyed, etc.: in -lyndr, -mooded, tempered, góð-lyndr, gentle; ill-lyndr, pettish; grá-lyndr, spiteful; fjöl-lyndr, fickle; fá-lyndr, melancholy; fljót-lyndr, hot-tempered; ör-lyndr, liberal, etc.: in -kárr, var-kárr, cautious; laun-kárr, lurking: in -rœðr, átt-rœðr, ní-rœðr, tí-rœðr, tólf-rœðr (see p. xxi), prob. akin to Goth, ga-raþjan = numerare; cp. also röð, a row:—these with several others may be regarded as compounds.

VerbsThe 1st and 4th weak conjugations, as also the strong, consist of primitive words; the 2nd and 3rd weak consist of derivatives from nouns, adjectives, and preterites of strong verbs (see the remarks on the umlaut); the exceptions are the verbs of the 1st with inflexive syllables. Inflexions:

I. in -na, denoting to become, grow so and so; these words seem originally to be formed from strong participles or adjectives in -inn, whence the n in the inflexion; and so they may serve as guides in tracing lost strong verbal inflexions:

1. where a participle or adjective in -inn exists; roð-na, to blush (roðinn); vis-na, to wither (visinn); sof-na, to go to sleep (sofinn); dof-na, to get benumbed (dofinn); vak-na, to awake (vakinn); bog-na, to be bowed (boginn); klök-na, to be softened; drukk-na, to drown (drukkinn); þrot-na, to come to an end (þrotinn); stork-na, to be curdled (storkinn); brot-na, to break (brotinn); rot-na, to rot (rotinn); soð-na, to be cooked (soð-inn); hlot-nast, to fall to one’s lot (hlotinn); skrið-na, to slip (skriðinn); svið-na, to be singed (sviðinn); blik-na, to turn pale (blikja); slit-na, to be torn (slitinn); rif-na. to be rent (rifinn); vik-na, to give way (vikinn); hnip-na, to quail (hnip-inn); fú-na, to rot (fúinn); bráð-na, to melt (bráðinn); tog-na, to become leaky* stretched (toginn); bólg-na, to bulge, swell (bólginn); hnig-na, to decay (hniginn); gis-na, to be ‘geizened’ (gisinn); las-na, to decay (lasinn); slök-na, to be quenched; hang-na, to become hanginn.

β. where a lost participle can be suggested; þag-na, to become silent; glúp-na, q.v.; kvik-na, to be engendered; hit-na, to become hot; fit-na, to grow fat; dig-na, to get wet; glið-na, q.v.; doð-na, q.v.; los-na, to get loose; stik-na, to be roasted; þor-na, to be dry (þurr, þorrinn); lif-na, to become alive; þið-na, hlá-na, and þá-na, to thaw; kaf-na, to be choked; hjað-na, to wane.

2. formed from plain adjectives, perhaps by way of analogy to the above; harð-na, to harden, grow hard (harðr); stirð-na (stirðr, stiff); þykk-na (þykkr, stout);sort-na, to become black (svartr); hljóð-na, to become silent (hljóðr); föl-na, to grow pale (fölr); gul-na, to grow yellow (gulr); ves-na, to grow worse (verri); bat-na, to grow better (bati); blá-na, to grow blue (blár); grá-na (grár, grey);dökk-na, to darken (dökkr, black); vök-na, to get wet (vökvi); súr-na, to get sour (súrr); hvít-na, to whiten (hvítr); sár-na, to smart (sárr); volg-na (volgr, lukewarm); glað-na, to be gladdened (glaðr); meyr-na (meyrr, Germ. mürbe); hlý-na, to get warm (hlýr); tré-na, to dry (tré, a log); ré-na, to sink, dwindle; gild-na (gildr, stout).

3. the sense is different in such words as sam-na, to collect (saman); gam-na (gaman); fag-na, to rejoice (feg-inn); sak-na, to miss; gag-na, to gain; tig-na, to honour (tiginn): as also Krist-na, A) Christianize (Kristinn); drótt-na, to rule (dróttinn); var-na, to shun; spyr-na, to spurn, etc.

II. in -ga, from adjectives in -igr; auð-ga, to enrich (auðigr); hel-ga, to hallow (heilagr); ráð-gast, to take counsel, see p. xxiv.

2. in -ka, formed from adjectives, to become (and to make) so and so; hæk-ka, to heighten; læk-ka, to lower; fæk-ka, to become few; dýp-ka, to deepen; mín-ka, to lessen; smæk-ka, to become smaller; stœk-ka, to become larger; breið-ka, to become broad; víð-ka, to widen; mjók-ka, to make narrow; síð-ka, to become ‘sid;’ sein-ka, to make slow, etc., see p. xxiv; some of these are also intrans., e.g. mín-ka, to lessen and to become less.

III. in -sa and -ra, a kind of iterative verb mentioned in p. xxiv.

IV. in -la, id.

Final Remarks on the Formation of Words. From the roots fresh words branch out by means of prefixed or suffixed syllables; the ablaut is probably due to a prefix (reduplication), the umlaut to a lost inflexion; root vowels seem not to change of themselves, but from some outward cause. Ablaut, umlaut, and inflexions are the three chief agents in forming words. All three degrees of formation may be found in a single word; e.g. kann (knew) is a strong preterite, formed by way of ablaut; whence kenna, to teach, by umlaut; whence kenn-sla, teaching, by inflexion: or to take another example,—from heil-l, whole, comes heil-agr, holy, whence hel-ga, to sanctify, whence helgan (i.e. hel-g-a-n), where we have ablaut + threefold inflexion: so also from són atonement, sacrifice (in sónar-gőltr, sónar-dreyri, sacrificial blood, Germ. sühne), is formed syn-ð (in old MSS. spelt syn-þ), a sin, a thing to be atoned for, whence synd-ugr sinful, whence syndg-a to sin, whence syndga-n (syn-d-g-a-n) sinfulness. Yet beyond són with its long vowel, as well as heill with its diphthong, lie primitive words whence són and heill were formed by means of ablaut, and so in many other cases. The growth of words is slow, and between the first and last of these formations centuries elapsed;—són is a heathen word, synd and derivatives are Christian; heill, heilagr, and helga are heathen, whereas helgan is Christian. Many of the inflexions are the latest, and from them were formed fresh words to express ideas unknown in heathen times: such especially are most of the feminines in -n and -ing (from verbs) of late growth, and but few of them perhaps known to the men of the 10th century (the Saga time); some of the new words displaced older, e.g. hugga-n, comfort; but líkn is older: again, the umlaut belongs to the early, the ablaut to the earliest stage of the language,—dómr (doom), dœma (deem), dæming (deeming, damnation), represent the three steps. In some instances the succession is different, and an inflexion comes between ablaut and umlaut, thus þurr dry, þor-sti thirst, whence þyr-str thirsty; gróa to grow, gró-ðr growth, whence grœða to heal, whence grœð-sla healing; and many others.

Pet Names

These are diminutives, and in compound names are chiefly formed by a sort of contraction and by changing a strong declension into a weak (usually in the latter, but sometimes in the former part of the name), or by adding -si, -ka, or the like:

I. girls; Sigga from Sig-ríðr; Gunna from Guð-rún; Inga from Ing-unn, Ing-veldr; Imba from Ingi-bjorg; Gudda from Guð-ríðr; Manga from Mar-grét; Valka from Val-gerðr; Ranka from Ragn-eiðr and Ragn-hildr; Jóka from Jó-hanna; Tobba from Þor-björg; Sissa from Sig-þrúðr; Kata (Engl. Kate) from Katrín; Kitta from Kristin; Ásta from Ás-tríðr; Þura from Þur-íðr; Dóra from Hall-dóra, etc.; Dísa from Val-dis, Vig-dis, Her-dis, etc.; Geira from Geir-laug; Fríða from Hólm-fríðr, etc.; Þrúða from Jar-þrúðr, Sig-þrúðr; Lauga from Guð-laug; Ása from As-laug.

II. boys; Siggi from Sig-urðr; Gvendr from Guð-mundr; Simbi from Sig-mundr; Brynki from Bryn-jólfr; Steinki from Stein-grímr; Mangi from Magnús; Rúnki from Rún-ólfr; Sveinki from Sveinn; Sebbi from Sig-björn, Svein-björn (rare); Erli from Erl-indr (Erlingr); Gutti from Guthormr, or rarely Guð-brandr,—nú skal hann Gutti (Guddi?) setja ofan, Safn ii. 128; Kobbi from Jakob; Valdi from Þor-valdr; Mundi or Ási from Ás-mundr, etc.; Láki from Þor-lákr; Leifi from Þor-leifr; Láfi from Ólafr; Eyvi from Eyj-ólfr; Keli from Þor-kell; Laugi from Gunn-laugr; Tumi (Engl. Tommy) from Thomas occurs in Icel. as an independent name about the middle of the 12th century (Stud.), and was probably borrowed from the English; Fúsi from Vig-fús; Grímsi from Grímr; Jónsi from Jón (Engl. Johnny); Björsi from Björn; Bensi from Benedikt.

These names, and others similar to them, are not of yesterday, but can be traced back even to the heathen time; many of the old names with weak declension in -i and -a were probably originally pet names, e.g. Bjarni from Björn; Arni (Arne) from Örn; Bersi from Björn; Karli (Engl. Charley) from Karl; Jóra from Jóreiðr; Ragna from compounds in Ragn-, Ragn-eiðr; Ingi and Inga from compounds in Ing-; Goddi (Laxd., cp. Germ. Götze) probably from compounds in Goð- (Guðmundr) as the present Gudda of girls; Boddi (a name of the 8th century) from those in Böð- (A.S. Beadu-); Daði (occurs in an Icel. colonist family from the British Isles in the 10th century) probably from Davíð (Davy); Sebbi and Ubbi occur on Swedish Runic stones; Helgi (old form Hölgi) from Há-leygr, Nj. ch. 94. Only a few instances in the Sagas bear directly on this subject; one is the dream of earl Hakon (year 994) of his son Erling’s death; ‘nú er Ulli dauðr,’ qs. Erli or Erlingr; cp. also the name of Snorri Goði from Snerrir, Eb. ch. 12.

Of a similar kind are At-li, Goth, att-ila, Lat. paterculus; Gam-li.

Compound Words

Of these the Dictionary gives the best account; when the former part is an uninflected root word a hyphen is usually printed between the component parts, with a few exceptions, such as words compounded with particles like afar-, all-, fjöl-, full-, gagn-, etc.; and some other words, as fé-, goð-, gull-, etc. Again, the Icel. has an almost unlimited stock of compound words formed by means of the genitive. Many of these are used both as compounds and as two separate words, and are therefore given under the head of the principal word, e.g. barn with barns- and barna-: in these cases it depends upon the genitive whether the alphabetical order is preserved or not; this is mostly the case in words like bátr, báts-borð, but not so in beðr, gen. beðjar-; or in beini, beina-; baula, baulu-. As compounds are made from both gen. plur. and sing, they are sometimes double, e.g. under the head barn, both barns- and barna-. But chiefly are to be noticed words with the u- umlaut, because a is the first and ö the last letter in the alphabet; thus e.g. föður- is the compound form of faðir (father), and would if simple stand at the end of the letter, whereas now it stands near the beginning, s.v. faðir; as also bjarnar- under björn; bjarkar- under björk; still greater is the leap in compounds from words such as alda, a wave, gen. öldu- (p. 11); so also the compounds from öld (age), önd (soul), örk (arch), örn (eagle), öxl (shoulder), which are aldar-, andar-, arkar-, arnar-, axlar-; but these words are few. Icel. printing, in editions of Sagas as well as in modern books, has no fixed rule as to the spelling of such compound words, and often connects them in hundreds of cases where they are evidently separate; in old writers, e.g. in Mar. S., musterisferð, journey to the temple, 14; freistnistormr, storm of temptation, 433; uppstigningarstaðr, place of ascension, 588; snubbanarorðum, snubbing language, 567; uppsprettubrunnr, 27; stjörnubókarmenn, astronomers, 30; spektarþögn, silence of wisdom, id.; umskrurðarskírn, baptism of circumcision, 35; Austrvegskonungar, the kings of the East, id.; vistarveizluna, giving shelter, Mork. 67, etc.; and in mod. writers, e.g. in the 4th hymn of the Passíu-Sálmar, trúarsjónin, the eye of faith; dreyralækir, brooks of blood; lausnargjald, ‘lease-gild,’ ransom; lífsæðarnar, life veins; Arkargluggi, window of the Ark; hrygðarskuggi, the shadow of sorrow; sólarbjarmi, the brightness of the sun; hrygðarmyrkr, the darkness of grief; svalavatn, the refreshing. water; reiðisproti, wrath’s rod; svalalind, a refreshing well; hjartablóð, heart’s blood, all spelt as one word, even without a hyphen between them. Again, the old MSS. separate too much, or rather keep no rule whatever. We have not thought of giving a full list of these and similar words for this would be impossible. From such words as maðr, barn, fótr, hönd, etc. hundreds of similar compounds may easily be formed, most of which are in a grammatical sense rather sentences than single words; but many are given, especially from old writers. For a native these things are of little moment; but for the sake of lexicography a more distinct and regular spelling is much needed.


A regular spelling has been adopted in most editions during the last hundred years—before that time few editions had been issued: this spelling was fixed by Icel. scholars of that time, and was chiefly founded upon the average spelling in the vellums, partly upon a few noted MSS. (e.g. the Arna-Magn. 132 folio, and 66 folio), and with reference to the living Icel. language. But of late many of the oldest MSS. and fragments have been carefully and exactly printed. A few hints are therefore needed to guide the reader how in these cases to use the Dictionary, which in the main holds to the normal spelling. The spelling varies much, not only in MSS. of different times, but in the same MS.; very few of them follow any fixed plan, and the same word is differently spelt even in the same line; yet in many particular instances the spelling is instructive, and even more correct than the accepted orthography, and must not be left out of sight by those who study the growth and history of the language.

A. In inflexions:

I. vowels:—the MSS. use o and u as well as e and i indiscriminately in declensions of nouns and verbs, the oldest almost always o and e, as tungor, tongues; oldor, waves; tímom, times; boðoðot, kolloðom, gorðosk, etc.: e, i, as time, a time; elle, age; faðer, father; timenn, the time; boðaðer, fylger, etc.: most MSS. (the later) prefer u, and so it has come into the normal spelling; for the use of e, see introduction to that letter (signif. B), p. 114: in inflexions, -oll, -orr, -oðr, -osta, -on, instead of-ull, -urr, -uðr, -usta, -un (see pp. xxxii, xxxiii); as also in dat. pl. with the article, timonom, hondonom; the pret. toloð. dicta; kolloð, vocata; kolloðom, vocavimus: also -endi, -enn, -ell, instead of -indi, -inn, -ill.

II. consonants:—the reflex, is in very old MSS. spelt -sc (-zc or -sþ), but in the usual way -z, -zt, -szt.

B. In root syllables:

I. vowels:

1. long and short vowels are usually not distinguished, except in very few MSS., e.g. Ann. Reg., which MS. is of a like interest for Icel. in this respect, as the Ormulum for Early English. Later MSS. began to distinguish by doubling the long vowels, aa = á, ij = í, oo = ó, w = ú, but mostly without a fixed rule; this way of spelling has remained in English, e.g. Engl. foot = Icel. fót, blood = blóð. At last the marking the long vowels with an accent was resumed, as taught by Thorodd.

2. of special letters,

α. the spelling of ö varies very much; the ancients had a double ö sound (ø and ), but both were soon confounded, and ö was spelt indiscriminately in a sixfold or eightfold fashion, o, w, ꜹ, au, av, , ø (born, bꜹrn, baurn, bavrn, brn, børn), and was thus confounded with several vowels, e.g. with the diphthong av, the o and ó, the æ and œ, e.g. rꜹð may be = rauð red or röð a row, log may be log a lowe or lög laws, lavg may be laug a bath or lög laws, hll may be hæll a heel or höll a hall, etc.; in print ø was used for about two hundred years, till at the beginning of this century it was replaced by the present ö, which was probably borrowed from the German.

β. the e and æ were confounded, and in some few MSS. it is almost a rule, as the Mork., the Njála (Arna-Magn. 468), the Kb. of Sæm., and the fragment Arna-Magn. 748, cp. e.g. the print of Baldrs Draumar in Sæm. Edda by Möbius, pp. 255, 256; thus teki = tœki, seti = sæti, reður = rœður, beta = bœta, be = bœ (a house), sekia = sœkja, fela = fœla, mela = mæla, and vice versa; ę, æ, instead of e, sętti = setti, ælli = elli, see introduction to letter E, p. 113; æi = ei freq. In the east of Icel. the æ and œ were, up to the beginning of the 18th century, sounded not = Engl. long i as they are at present, but as Germ. ē or ä, Engl. ā, with a protracted sound: many puns referring to this provincialism ar recorded by Jón Ólafsson, e.g. the ditty, mér sú merin ( = mærin) ljósa í minni er,—the pun is in merr = a mare and mær = a maid being sounded alike; Hann Bersi minn í Bē! Hun er gengin á reður með honum, see Jón Ólafsson, Essay on Icel. Orthography of the year 1756 (in MS.) The poet Stefán Ólafsson, a native of the east of Icel. (died 1688), still rhymes brekr (i.e. brækr) and lekr (= stillat). It is likely that the MSS. above named were written, if not composed, in the east of Icel. In still earlier times this pronunciation was no doubt universal, but not so six or seven hundred years ago.

γ. the Icel. (see p. xxix) confounded the two sounds æ (ę) and œ (); yet for a long time afterwards both characters ę and  were still used, but upside down, without any regard to etymology, till at last the Roman æ took the place in writing of both ę and .

δ. the u and v were used indiscriminately, e.g. tvngv = tungu, bvndv = bundu; and, on the other hand, ualld = valld, uera = vera, uit = vit, etc.

ε. the i served for i and j (iorð = jörð): ja is especially in very old MSS. often spelt ea, earn = jarn (cp. Thorodd in Skálda): in old poems the j always serves as a vowel in alliteration, which in mod. usage sounds harsh, though it may be used; but ia, io, etc. were, on the other hand, one syllable, and old grammarians speak of i as a ‘changeling,’ being sometimes a vowel and sometimes a consonant: it is likely that the pronunciation was similar to ea in Engl. tears, fear, whereas in mod. Icel. usage j before a vowel is sounded as Engl. y before a vowel.

ζ. in Norse MSS. ey is usually spelt øy, høyra, øyra, = heyra, eyra, and is sounded thus in mod. Norse dialects.

η. many old Icel. MSS. confound y and i in a few words and forms, especially in the prepositions firir, ifir, = fyrir. yfir; the verbs skildi, mindi (subj.), þikkir, = skyldi, myndi, þykkir; minni = mynni (ostium) and minnask = mynnask, ‘to mouth,’ to kiss; kirkja = kyrkja, cp. Scot. kirk; before ngv, as singva = syngja to sing, Ingvi = Yngvi, lingva = lyngva, etc.: mikill and mykill, mickle, much: the inflex. -indi and -yndi.

θ. the ey is used in some few MSS. instead of ø in such words as seynir, seyni, = synir, syni; geyrva = gørva.

ι. the o instead of the later u in a few words, but only in very old MSS., as goð = guð, goll = gull, fogl = fugl, oxi = uxi, mon (the verb) = mun, cp. Engl. God, gold, fowl, ox.

κ. the ø and œ are in very old MSS. spelt eo, e.g. keomr = komr (i.e. kemr), feoða =fœða.

II. consonants:

1. a radical l is almost always doubled before the dentals d or t without regard to etymology; the MSS. thus spell holld flesh, molld mould, valld power, skalld poet, hallda to hold, hollt a holt, kallt cold; but not so if the d is inflexive and soft, e.g. skyl-ði, þol-ði, val-ði, hul-ði, etc., from skulu, þola, velja, hylja; as also gal-ðr from gala, kul-ði from kul, skul-ð from skulu a debt, etc. This was no doubt due to the l having in the former case been pronounced aspirate (as it still is), similar to Welsh ll, the l in hollt being sounded exactly as hl at the beginning of syllables.

β. the z instead of s was almost always used after the double consonants (with a dental sound), ll, nn, nd, ld, dd, tt, lt, nt, rð, and t, e.g. in the genitives gullz, munnz, sandz, valdz, oddz, hattz, holltz or hollz, fantz, garðz, knutz or knúz, as also in botz, vaz or vatz, from gull, munnr,... knútr, botn, vatn; in the common spelling gulls, munns, etc.: again, guls from gulr, dals from dalr, etc. This is not a mere variation of spelling; the sibilant in the former cases was no doubt sounded as Engl. z, viz. with a lisping sound; the z sound is now lost in Icel, and s is spelt wherever it is etymologically required.

γ. the þ instead of ð (t) was used throughout as final (inlaut, auslaut) in very old MSS., in later þ and ð indiscriminately, e.g. guþ, orþ, secþ, dypþ, = guð, orð, sekt, dypt (qs. sekð, dypð); as also in inflexions, tocoþ, vitoþ, scoloþ, hafiþ, = tókut, vituð, skulut, hafit; in modern and better spelling tókuð, vituð, skuluð, hafið, etc., see introduction to letter D (signif. B), p. 93.

δ. the qu = kv in imitating Latin MSS., e.g. quama, necquerr, quiðr, quiquan, quøqua, = kváma, nekkverr, kviðr, kvikvan, kveykja, (kv very seldom occurs in good old MSS.); perhaps the qu had a peculiar sound, like that of the English queen; in mod. Icel. pronunciation there is only a single k sound throughout: for the use of c, see Dictionary, p. 93.

2. Norwegianisms,

α. the spelling with v before u in verbal forms, as vultu, vurðu, vorðinn, from velta, verða, = ultu, urðu, orðinn; these neither occur in very old MSS. nor in alliteration in old poets nor in mod. pronunciation.

β. the dropping of h before the liquids l, n, r, and writing lutr, not, ringr, instead of hlutr a lot, hnot a nut, hringr a ring; this dropping of the h seems to have come into fashion with Icel. writers and transcribers after the union with Norway; but as early as the 15th century MSS. had resumed the old correct form, which had never been lost, and which has been preserved in speech as well as writing up to the present day, Icelanders being now the only people of all the Teutonic races who have preserved this sound; but it is curious that the Icel. transcribers, having the h sound in their ears, frequently blundered, and hr, hn occur now and then, which never happens with Norse transcribers; there is, for example, no need of any stronger evidence that Hauk Erlendsson (the writer of the vellum Hauks-bók) was a native Icelander, than that, although he tries to spell in the Norse way, the h creeps in, see, for instance, facsimile 1 in Landn. (Ísl. i, Ed. 1843), where l. 11 hrafnkels, but l. 12 rafnkels.

3. for many special usages see the introduction to each letter.


Runólfr Jónsson (died 1654); he wrote in Latin the first Icelandic Grammar, Grammaticae Islandicae Rudimenta, Copenhagen 1651; it was republished by Hickes at Oxford in 1688, but with many misprints, and in his Thesaurus in 1703: Hickes also made the index of the words occurring in the book. This Grammar is formed upon the Latin principle, and is a useful book; the author was an Icelandic schoolman, rector of the College at Holar in Iceland, and a learned man.

Jón Magnússon (born 1664, died 1739, a brother to Arni Magnússon); his Grammatica Islandica (also in Latin) was never published, but exists at Copenhagen in the author’s autograph; it is less interesting than the above.

Rask (Rasmus Kristian), the famous Danish linguist (born 1787, died 1832), wrote three Icelandic Grammars:—

α. Veiledning til det Islandske Sprog, Copenhagen 1811 (in Danish).

β. Anvisning til Isländskan, written in Swedish and published at Stockholm in 1818; this is the best of the three which Rask wrote, and it was rendered into English by Mr. Dasent in 1843.

γ. Kortfattet Veiledning til del Old-nordiske eller Gamle Islandske Sprog, Copenhagen 1832 (in Danish), rendered into English by B. Thorpe.

Grimm, Jacob (born 1785, died 1863), in his Deutsche Grammatik, first in 1819 in one volume, but recast in the great Teutonic Grammar of 1822 sqq.; the Icelandic paradigms are contained in vol. i.—the nouns, pp. 650-665; the adjectives, pp. 736-743; the verbs, pp. 911-928; the formation of words etc. in the following volumes (ii-iv). The work of Grimm is rightly regarded as the key-stone for the knowledge of Teutonic languages.

Unger, C.R. (and P.A. Munch.), Det Norske Sprogs Grammatik, Christiania 1847, chiefly founded on Grimm’s work.

Halldór Friðriksson, Íslenzk Málmynda-lýsing, Reykjavík 1861; a small book, but curious as being the only Icelandic Grammar written in Icelandic.

Grammatical Essays on the Spelling of MSS.:

α. Frumpartar Íslenzkrar Tungu by Konrad Gíslason, Copenhagen 1846,

β. The Prefaces to the various Editions, especially in those edited within the last twenty years.