:: The Vikings of Bjornstad :: Old Norse Dictionary Notes
This dictionary, in both Old Norse to English and English to Old
Norse versions, is derived from the sources listed
below. Some liberties have been taken with the English definitions to
facilitate sorting them in a usable order. This is a work of data transcription,
conversion, combination and formatting, with only a minor amount of scholarship
thrown in. As a result, this dictionary should NOT be relied upon as unerringly accurate, and
should only be used as an aid for further research.
To use the English to Old Norse version, click here.
To use the Old Norse to English version, click here.
For more information on the Old Norse language and runes, see the Viking Language Book Series by Jesse L. Byock
Abbreviations and symbols used in the dictionary
female (word gender)
male (word gender)
comparative (as in bigger, biggest)
article (e.g., a, the)
The proper Old Norse letter order is not followed in this
dictionary. Instead, to
make finding words easier for English-speaking researchers, letters
modified by diacritical marks are sorted together, ignoring the mark
that would normally define the letter separately in Old Norse.
Or, to state it another way, for sequencing purposes, if it
looks more or less like an “O”, the dictionary treats it as an “O”. As examples,
these Old Norse words can be found - in this sequence - within the “O”
section of the dictionary: ófriðr,
ofríki, øfrīkt, ofrlið and ofrǫlvi.
This is in recognition of both (1) English readers’
unfamiliarity with the Old Norse letter sequence, as well as (2)
inconsistencies from the various sources used for the dictionary.
As an example of the latter situation, E.V. Gordon renders
the Old Norse word for “son” as“mǫgr”.
Jesse L. Byock provides “mögr”
for same word. Other sources may, because of font
limitations, eliminate the diacritical markings for the letters
Despite the foregoing, the following order is observed when appropriate, both for
the initial letter of Old Norse words and within the words
a á ä æ b c d ð e é f g h i í j k l m n o ó ø ö ǫ œ p q r s t u ü ú v y ý
þ. Beyond this, the
and“œ” are sequenced as if
they were the separate letter combinations “ae”
and “oe” respectively.
The "thorn" letter “þ” is reserved for the end of the listings.
Inevitably, there will be instances found in the dictionary where
the sequence hasn't been brought in line with this guideline.
It’s a tough one to get right - consistently…
Navigation & Searching
Link bars are positioned before each letter to enable
jumping directly to the letter clicked on. In addition, if the
section for a particular letter is extensive, additional "midpoint" Link
Bars are positioned for selected letter combinations to reduce the amount of scrolling necessary to find the entry you are looking for. Note that the
letter "s" bar shown below for the English to Old Norse
version of the dictionary provides links to "sh", "sk", "st" and
"su". On the other hand, the Link Bar for the letter "z", for example, would not show midpoint links for any letter.
No Search or Find facility is provided for the dictionary, but the
standard key combinations "ctl-f" or "alt-e, f" work pretty well.
The Old Norse verb róa
means “to row”. Within
this dictionary, the English definition eliminates the "to", showing
only the word “row”.
All infinitive verbs receive the same treatment.
The simple explanation for this is that it makes sorting the
English to Old Norse dictionary easier.
It does make the translation somewhat more obscure, but this
was a considered tradeoff.
Other (hopefully minor) tweaks to the English definitions
serve the same purpose.
Hyphenated Old Norse Words
The entry for the Old Norse word “val-tafn”
(meaning “slain as prey”) includes a hyphen.
Many other entries similarly include a hyphen.
This is just an indication of syllable separation, and is inconsistently followed among the
sources for this dictionary.
The hyphen would not have occurred in actual usage.
Dictionary Entry Duplication
Frequently, Old Norse words have multiple meanings in English.
In this dictionary, each of those multiple meanings may have one or more
phrases translated from Old Norse to English. The
repeats all of those examples for each of those multiple meanings,
even if they don’t apply to the narrow meaning of the current entry
displayed, just to make it easier to find - and understand - useful
Old Norse words and phrases.
As an example, “gøra
sik djarfan - display boldness” is repeated for the English words
“offer”, “give”; “make”, “build”; “write”, “compose” and
others because the Old Norse verb “gøra” can be
translations for all of them.
Old Norse Word Modifications
Some Old Norse
words listed in the dictionary are followed by a symbol or a sequence of letters in
parentheses. As an example, the entry for the English
is translated to the Old Norse entry “sauma (að)”.These additions represent modifications to those words that
would result when they were used in context.
The entries are primarily from E.V.
Gordon's An Introduction to Old Norse. Here's the
paragraph from his book that explains the additions:
indications of inflexion are given in the glossary itself: (rs) or (rar) placed
after a noun, or (ran) after an adjective, means that the
final -r of the nominative is kept in inflexion.
Similarly (van) placed after an adjective means it is
declined like hár or gløggr, § 100. The
conjugation of weak verbs of classes 1 and 2 is indicated by placing
in brackets after each of the form of the dental suffix of the past
tense gøra (ð) of the first weak conjugation, § 136, or kalla
(að), of the second conjugation, § 141. When a verb of the
first weak conjugation has a root-syllable ending in a dental
consonant, the form of the whole dental group in the past tense is
given, as leiða (dd), indicating the past 3 sg. leiddi.
In verbs of the first weak conjugation which have short stems the
vowel of the first weak conjugation which have short stems the vowel
of the root-syllable is not mutated in the past tense, which is
given in full, as flytja (flutti)."
background is in Information Systems and I'm only slightly capable
of multi-lingualism, I'll leave it to the reader to gain whatever meaning
you can from that explanation. I understand enough of it to know
better than to attempt to explain the rest. The sections
Gordon refers to above, e.g., § 136, are sections in the book
explaining aspects of the language in more detail. It's no third grade primer, but I don't know
of a more thorough source on the language. A book less focused
on translating the Norse sagas, and more on teaching you Old
Norse, is Viking Language 1, by Jesse L. Byock. Details on both are
noted below. If you
are at all interested in Old Norse (and you obviously are), I
recommend both books highly.
Richard Diebold Center for Indo-European Language and Culture, Linguistics
Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Old Norse Online Base Form
Dictionary, Jonathan Slocum and Todd B. Krause,
E.V. Gordon, An Introduction to Old Norse, Oxford University Press; 2 edition (July 23, 1981), ISBN9780198111849