Scandinavian loans in Old and Middle English, and their legacy in the dialects of England and modern standard English

                                             (Updated 15 October 2011)

 

Word colours:

green = Old Norse (ON) and Old English (OE); red = Modern English; maroon = Middle English (ME); blue = Modern English dialect; purple = cognates in Modern Scandinavian and German

* Old English examples cited are given in an Early West Saxon form unless stated.

** Modern Scandinavian parallels are given where these seem appropriate, and are represented in Modern Norwegian form. This means Norwegian Bokml unless stated otherwise, i.e. in such cases where Nynorsk or even Danish forms are closer to the ON than the Bokml ones.

 

Opening remarks

 

Some ON words were already beginning to find their way into Old English, mostly due to Viking raids and later settlement (in the Danelaw) in England. However the full extent of Norse influence on English did not become clear until the Middle English period of the language, c.1150-1500. The reasons behind this are complex, as is the sometimes subtle interplay between ON and Old English in the early period. Old English and ON were probably mutually intelligible to quite a degree, and this situation both accelerated borrowing and hindered it, depending upon region, the speakers' ethnic background and the words concerned themselves. If a word in ON already had an identical or very similar parallel in Old English, the chances are it would not find its way into Standard English, linguistic excess usually being a bad thing. However this varies according to region, and as the North of England was most heavily settled by Norsemen, there are not a few examples of this principle being ignored. In the south, Saxon words prevailed, and Norse influence was both slower and smaller.

It is, however, true to say the language of the speakers of the Danelaw did more to directly change English than did the Norman Conquest of 1066. This was because the two languages ON and OE resembled one another enough for the learning of a second language to not be necessary. OE and ME could quite comfortably admit loans from Norse and the reverse was presumably the case.

An example to show the complexity of the issues at hand would be the Northern dialect and Scots bairn which means "child" in Standard English. It may come from ON barn(it) and exists in all the Modern Nordic languages (Norwegian and Danish barn, Icelandic and Faroese barn etc.). Old English also had a version of this word, bearn. The Old English word seemed to fall out of favour in Standard English (i.e. the West Saxon or Early Middle English of the south) reasonably early on - being replaced by child (OE cild). The current Northern dialect usage could therefore be a result of three possible scenarios:

i) The Old English usage was well rooted and familiar enough to remain in use despite standardising tendencies from southern English.
ii) The Old English word was declining until the Norse users maintained its existence by using an identical or very similar word from their tongue.
iii) The Old English word died out completely, and was re-introduced (perhaps unwittingly) by the Norse speakers in the occupied districts.

The Norsemen gave us a good number of words that are in everyday use and a fundamental element of the everyday vocabulary of English. Many of the words which came in through Norse were those associated with the sea, law and local administration - as will be seen from the divisions made below. Everyday Norse words in English are, for example: law, fellow, get, take, anger, sky, skin, wrong, same, as well as, most remarkably, the pronouns they, their and them, which ousted the OE equivalents he, heora and him. They also gave us the present meanings of words like bread (original meaning bit, piece, morsel), dream (original meaning joy), earl (original meaning warrior; hero), dwell (original meaning go astray, tarry) and restricted the meanings of words like holm (original meaning sea, ocean, water) and starve (original meaning die). Borrowing of pronouns is a very rare phenomenon and illustrates both the intimate relations and deep effect Norse had with, and on, early English. Most loans would have found their way into the language from the 9th 11th centuries, but they do not start appearing in quantities until the written records of the 1200s i.e. Early Middle English. Norse words were relatively slow to show themselves in written verse, but when they did, beginning in the North and Midlands of the country, they appeared in considerable numbers. Most of these words did not endure long, or else are still confined to the dialects (Norse followed by French being the most significant donor of words to the dialects). Norse probably had a lower status even than English in the late Middle Ages, which in its turn had a lower status than (Norman) French and Latin.

The effects of Norse speech can be appreciated from the fact that East and West Mercian developed into considerably different dialects in Middle English. There must have been areas of particularly dense Danish settlement for the local Saxons to need to acquire at least a basic understanding of the settlers language due to their numbers and social and commercial importance. Moreover, to Nordic cross-border linguistic interference and a form of creolized Old English can to a large measure be attributed the inflexional-levelling which occurred in English from c.1100-1350 AD. This process has to a greater or lesser extent happened in all Germanic languages, but the need for the Saxon English and Norsemen to communicate, in languages whose vocabulary but not inflexional endings were very similar, very likely accelerated this process in English. However, not everyone now agrees with this view (advanced, among others, by Jespersen). Robert Burchfield, writing in his The English Language, argues:

"This view [i.e. the creolized, flexionless English], which supposes a period, however temporary, of creolized and virtually illiterate speech, cannot be sustained. It is much more likely that the linguistic changes of the period 900 to 1200 result from an increasing social acceptance of informal and unrecorded types of English ....These informal types of English emerged because of the instability of the Old English declensional system itself ..." (p.14).

He continues to point out that the OE case system contained too few clearly distinguishable inflexions required to reflect the relationships between words in a sentence. Therefore the inflexional system, since it was an imperfect linguistic tool - perhaps to the point of hindering communication - was gradually scaled down (to a few easily distinguishable forms) in favour of a system which expressed syntactic relationships more clearly, i.e. prepositions. These, as Burchfield notes, were "powerful but insufficiently exploited". His argument certainly has the force of logic behind it. In defence of the views of Jespersen and others, it is instructive to note, as he points out (p.76):

"So when we find that the wearing away and levelling of grammatical forms in the regions in which the Danes chiefly settled was in a couple of centuries in advance of the same process in the more southern parts of the country, the conclusion does not seem unwarrantable this acceleration of the tempo of linguistic simplification is due to the settlers, who did not care to learn English correctly in every minute particular...".

Simplification of the OE case system began in precisely those areas where Saxon and Dane lived side by side. Jespersen draws our attention to the situation in South Africa, where the Early Modern Dutch of the white Boer settlers became simplified into today's Afrikaans through contact with foreign English-speaking settlers and indigenous natives. That this occurred, despite the Dutch case system being a mere pale imitation of the OE system's complexities, would suggest that the need for the OE case system to simplify in the face of Anglo-Scandinavian efforts at reciprocal communication was all the more necessary.

The reasoned conclusion arrived at from all this is that the OE case system was already breaking down, and the inflexional levelling that occurred during the late OE period and Early ME period was no doubt accelerated (especially in the Danish settled regions) by Norse influence, but not caused by, Norse influence on the English language. Loss of the case system was essentially a native phenomenon, clearly influenced by, but independent of, the Scandinavian settlements.

The Orrmulum written about 1200 in the north-east Midlands contains the first substantial hoard of Scandinavian loans recorded in Middle English. About 120 Nordic loans are incorporated within the poem and some are the first known usage of the words in English, including anger, bloom, booth, raise, scare and notably, the conjunction occ and and the relative particle summ as (both of which failed to make it into the standard language), as well as the adverb though and the pronouns they, their, and them - these forms did not become standard in Chaucer's English (i.e. that of London) until the 1400s. Among other words used in The Orrmulum we find awe, aye, bait, band, boon, bound, bull, flit, fro, gain, guest, hail, ill, kid, kindle, loft, low, meek, root, scathe, skill, sleuth, thrive, till and wing.

The Middle English words rad afraid, leyten seek, occ and, rowst voice, ros praise, summ as, ro peace, usel wretched, gal mad, skil divide and allesamen together seem entirely foreign to us but a Dane would immediately recognize them as his own. None of these words made it into modern Standard English.

The Early Middle English poems of King Horn and Havelok the Dane both show considerable Scandinavian features at the level of lexis - the former being from the London area and the later probably from around Grimsby in Lincolnshire.

In Laghamons Brut we find the first use of the words leg (ON leggr) and Thursday (ON rsdagr) instead of Saxon shank (OE) and Thundersday (OE unresdge). Chaucer was to use some 25 Scandinavian words in his later Canterbury Tales.

From the 1200s onwards scores of Norse words start to appear in English texts, often replacing words of native origin. Of these could be mentioned the replacement of werp by cast, halse by neck, eyethirl by window, swester by sister, ire by anger, snith by cut. In some cases synonymous or near-synonymous word pairs arose, e.g. craft/skill, sick/ill, rear/raise, b/both (both of course eventually became the word in Standard English).

Eorl, which in Anglo-Saxon England denoted a minor official was elevated in meaning to a high-ranking nobleman due to the influence of Norse jarl. Theonest, tithande and brydlop are all attested in ME, but only tidings has survived in the modern standard language. Thou art and they are reached London in Caxtons day (late 1400s) and saw off native expressions thou bist and he sind (cf. German du bist and sie sind).

Some 400 items whose origins are demonstrably Scandinavian are still alive in the modern standard language, and they are one of the cornerstones of the basic word-stock, representing some of the most common and everyday words of the language. If we add the Norse terms in the English dialects, a figure of well over 2,000 items can be arrived at.

Baugh and Cable arrive at a rather larger number for the standard language:

That number, if we restrict the list to those for which the evidence is fully convincing, is about 900To this group we should probably be justified in adding an equal number in which a Scandinavian origin is probable or in which the influence of Scandinavian forms has entered. (p.105)

The following list of nouns, adjectives and verbs includes some of the most common words in the language: awkward, bag, bait (vb.), band, bank, bask, birth, boon, brink, bull, cast (vb.), clip (vb.), crave, crawl, crook, dirt, down (feathers), dregs, drip, droop, drown, egg, egg (on), fellow, flat, flit, fog, gait, gap, gape, gasp, gaze, girth, glint, glitter, guess, hap, ill, keel, kid (noun), kindle, leg, lift (vb.), link, loan, loose, low (adj.), lug, lurk, meek, mire, muck, muggy, nag, odd, prod, race, raise, rake (vb.), ransack, rid, rift, root, rotten, rug, rugged, scab, scare, score (noun), scowl, scrap, screech, seat, seemly, sister, skill, skin, skirt, skull, sky, slaughter, slouch, sly, snare, snub, sprint, stack, steak, swain, take, tangle, tattered, thrift, thrive, thrust, tidings, tight, trust, want, weak, whisk, window. Possibly of Norse origin are sag, scrub, and toss.

Norse words which reached us via Norman French are flounder, faggot, frown, equip, blemish, target, tryst, scutch, jolly, elope, brawl, waive (after Geipel).

OE scyrte gives rise to modern shirt, while the corresponding ON term skyrta gives us skirt. Similarly, retention of the hard sounds of k and g in such words as kid, get, give and egg is telling of Norse origins. In OE plough meant a measure of land, but in Norse it referred to the agricultural implement.

The following, according to Geipel, are used over an area stretching from Shetland to East Anglia and Northampton: havers oats, bigg barley, addle earn, clegg horsefly, scarn cow dung, ewer udder, lea scythe, skellum rascal, kenspeck easily recognisable, scrat goblin, howk to dig, aye always, ket carrion, nay no, toom empty, steg gander, mun mouth, waur worse, smoot narrow passage, hoast cough, laithe barn, ing meadow, beck brook, sprot twigs.

So thorough was the integration of Norse elements in English that many words remained undetected until linguists began to investigate English using the comparative method in the second half of the 1800s. It is reasonable to assume that if a form is not recorded in OE but is found in Scandinavian, and it is recorded in ME from the Danelaw or other areas heavily settled by Scandinavians, it is likely to be a loan. Interestingly enough it is thought that the lexical convergences between Norse and Northumbrian Anglian dialects i.e. just in those areas where the Norse presence was the strongest would have been particularly plentiful, something which probably assisted the uptake of Norse loans into those same dialects. ME texts in the Northumbrian dialect are particularly rich in Norse loans.

When we find English words with an occlusive rather than palatalised g or k before a front vowel, a feature that was preserved in Old Norse, we may suspect a Norse loan or at least Norse influence. So there are the Norse forms garn, kista, skmm, skru besides native cognates yarn, chest, shame and shroud. So words like get, kid and skin are loans, while the words give and kettle were clearly influenced by Norse (had they not been, the modern forms of their OE cognates would be *yive and *chettle). 

Our word loose descends from the Norse form lauss and not its OE cognate las. Likewise weak is derived from ON veikr and not OE wc. The archaic word swain is from ON sveinn and not OE swn.

The -sk in bask and busk is a relic of the Norse reflexive form (ON baask and bask). Also a relic is the -t in scant, athwart and want from ON skammt (the neuter form of skammr short while), vert (the neuter form of verr perverse) and vant (the neuter form of vanr defective).

In some cases both the OE and Norse words have survived with a difference of meaning or use, as in the following pairs (English word first): no-nay, whole-hale, rear-raise, from-fro, craft-skill, hide-skin, sick-ill.

1 - OLD ENGLISH

 

Attested before 1016 and thus before the reign of Knud den Store (Canute) are a small number of words relating specifically to Danish or Danelaw concepts, e.g. sailing bara, cnearr, floege, sceg, sc, mercantile matters ran, marc, battle and the court dreng, hold, social, administrative and legal matters liesing, gri, Denelagu, bonda, lagu, wpengetc, socn, hmsocn, sclas, withermal, stefnan, toft. These terms are not common in Denmark in the same period and they must be considered having become obsolete in the mother country. Of the pre-1016 loans, the following have survived in the standard language: husband, fellow, thrall, outlaw, husting, wrong, call, to egg, law (ousted OE at an early date).

sc, the name of a Viking ship (ON askr), is attested in the Chronicle as early as 893.

Hsbnda was first in general use around 1000.

 

Eorl was influenced by Norse iarl. After 1017 eorl replaced the old title ealdorman, which does not completely disappear, but no longer denotes the highest office in the state of the king. In 1036 Godwine eorl is mentioned in the Chronicle. This is the first time eorl is used instead of ealdorman about an Englishman outside the Danelaw.

 

Terms connected with the reign of Canute and his sons are lismen, hscarl and ning. Hscarl lived alongside native hredman. Also associated with Canute are grsuman treasures (ODan. grsum).

 

During the late 1000s and the first half of the 1100s about thirty Norse terms appear in English manuscripts for the first time, and around half of these survive in modern standard English: knife, root, rag, score, skin, snare, haven, die, hit, take, crooked, they, them, their (in the case of the personal pronouns the Norse forms probably triumphed because the Saxon forms could be confusing). More Danelaw terms appear during this period: hird, hofding, fylcian, manslot, sceppe, tapor-x. Also during this period deyja replaced sweltan, skin replaced fell, root replaced wyrt, and taka replaced niman. (The first appearance of take is in 1072 in the Chronicle: ond a men ealle he tc). The words both and till make an appearance during this period (in the Peterborough Chronicle), while birth, gape, cast and want appear soon after.


Scandinavian loans in Old English poetry are confined to the accounts of heroic battles against the Norse and others in The Battle of Brunanburh and The Battle of Maldon. Warfare and trade are two principal ways in which loans can come into languages and the Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen regularly participated in both - especially war. It comes therefore as no surprise that the lexis derived from the ON which appears in these poems is entirely martial in nature.

In Maldon we have: dreng "Viking warrior" (where it only appears here before 1066) - ON drengr "bold man, warrior" etc. (Norwegian dreng, Danish dreng; the OE equivalent was ceorl, with a shift of meaning in modern churl); gri "truce, peace, cessation of hostilities" (OE word for a general condition of peace was fri, and it sometimes appears with gri in ME in the expression gri and fri) - ON gri "truce,  peace" (archaic Danish grid "peace", historical Norwegian grid "mercy"; note also grilas "violated" - ON grialauss "truceless" - this latter word is the first known Norse loan into English); grrs "attack" (lit. "spear-rush") - ON geirrs "spear-rush" (the compound appears to be Norse derived); ceallian to call where it appears as a synonym to native clypian - ON kalla. Also in this poem we have what appears to be a conscious echo of a Norse legal idiom selja sjlfdmi "deliver self-judgement" in the OE on hyra sylfa dm "on their own reckoning". Byrhtno, the tragic hero of the poem, is called an eorl in the full Nordic sense of the word.

And in Brunanburh we find the Norse word knrr "merchant ship" twice in the OE loan cnearr "(small) ship" (cf. Norwegian knarr "sailboat").

Poetic vocabulary is much less prone to survive language change and decay, and cnearr never had, to my knowledge, anything more than a short life within Old English poetic diction. But dreng did survive longer, appearing in Early Middle English poems from the North and Midlands such as Havelok the Dane.

Loans in Old English prose are more numerous and frequently met. Here is a list of many of them, some of which are easily recognisable as common everyday words in Modern English, such as husband, law, and outlaw. Loans from ON into OE are sometimes for concepts or things peculiarly Scandinavian, or those things in OE for which Anglo-Norse contact altered the conception. But most simply define or describe everyday objects or concepts for which the early English already had words. The vast majority of such Norse loans are found in the late texts after 1000 AD, especially The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, where we find such Norse loans as orrest "battle", gri (1002) "truce, cessation of hostilities" and ning "villain", among a number of others. Some are, however, found in earlier texts such as Alfred's Laws (880-90). Naturally many required adaptation to the OE sound and inflexional systems:

sc "ash" - with the sense "warship" - ON askr "ash-tree; small ship"; btswegen "boatswain" - OE bt + ON sveinn; btlas (late loan) "unpardonable" - ON btlauss "without remedy, irreparable" (cf. Modern English bootless); brdlp "bridal" (the first element is native) - ON brlaup "bridal, wedding feast" (cf. Norwegian bryllup "wedding"); bnda - "householder" - ON bndi "farmer, householder"; btsecarl (1052 ASC) "sailor (in royal fleet), seaborne merchant" - ON buza "boat" and karl "man"; b "dwelling" (found occasionally in ME) - ON b "farm, homestead"; cann "cognizance" (legal term) - ON kanna; carlmann "male, man" - ON karlmar "man, vigourous man"; ceallian (Maldon) "call" - ON kalla (ousted OE htan, clipian "call, yell"); cnearr "(small) ship" - ON knrr "merchant ship"; cnf "knife" - (probably ) ON knfr (OE used seax "short sword, knife"); crafian "demand" (late loan) - ON krefja "crave, demand, request" (cf. English crave, Norwegian kreve); crcod (once in late 1100s) "crooked" must derive from unrecorded OE *crk < ON krkr "hook, barb" (Serjeantson); degan, dgan (late OE, Anglian) "die" - ON deyja "die" (ousted OE sweltan "die" and altered OE steorfan "die, perish" which now only denotes "starve"; ON deyja once had an OE cognate which may have given rise to ME deien but forms from 1000 onward very likely stem only from the ON form, according to Serjeantson); efne "material, matter" - ON efni "material" (cf. Norwegian emne); farnian "prosper" - ON farnast "succeed"; folaga (1016 ASC) "colleague, mate" - ON flagi "partner; fellow, mate"; flege (rare) "little ship" - ON fley "swift ship"; fylcian (e.g. 1066 ASC) "(to) marshal" - ON fylkja "array, marshal"; genge "troop" - ON gengi "help, support"; grsume (1035 ASC; survived into Early ME (Serjeantson)) "treasure" - ON grsemi "costly thing, jewel, treasure"; h (once, 1039 ASC) "rowlock" - ON hr; hmele (once, 1040 ASC) "rowlock" - ON hamla; hmsocn "the offence of attacking someone in his home" - ON heimskn "attack on someone's home"; hsta "oarsman" - ON hseti; hofding (1076 ASC) "leader, ringleader" (has the latter meaning in ASC (Serjeantson)) - ON hfingi "leader, chief"; hittan (one instance in OE meaning "come upon" in 1066 ASC a com Harold ure cyng on unwr on a Normenn, and hytte hi begeondan Eoferwic) - ON hitta "hit upon, meet; strike"; hold (921 ASC) "vassal" - ON hldr (a kind of higher yeoman); hsbnda "householder" - ON hsbndi "master of the house"; hscarl (1036 ASC) "a member of the royal bodyguard" - ON hskarl "manservant; member of the royal bodyguard"; hsting (1012 ASC) "meeting, tribunal" - ON hsing (i.e. a thing held in a building); lagslit "breach of law" - ON *lgslit "breach of law"; lahbryce "breach of law" - ON lgbrot "breach of law"; lagu "law" (one of the most common and important ON loans) - ON *lagu, lg (npl.) - (the OE word was ); landcop, landceap "tax paid on a land purchase" - ON landkaup "purchase of land"; lesing (Laws) "freed man" - ON leysingi "freed man" (survives only in modern dialect as leising); li (1052 ASC) "fleet" - ON li "troops, host, following, crew" (OE form was lid); lismenn (ASC 1036) "sailors" - ON lismenn "troops"; loft (found once with meaning "air") - ON lopt (native OE equivalent was lyft); lst (1000s) "fault, sin" - ON lstr "fault, flaw; vice"; ml (e.g. 1086 ASC) "suit, case, pleading; agreement" - ON ml "suit, action, case" (the word later occassionally appears in ME and appears in Modern English as -mail, e.g. as in blackmail); manslot "portion of land granted the householder" - apparently ON manns-hlutr; ning (c.1000; 1049 ASC se cing a and eall here cwdon Swegen for niing) "villain, evil man, niggard, wretch" (the word is also fairly common in ME) - ON ningr "villain, scoundrel"; ran plural of ra (Danish coin) - ON aurar, OSwed. re (cf. Norwegian re); orrest (1096 ASC) "battle" - ON orrosta "battle" (also appears once in ME Ormulum, c.1200:  orrest); rn "robbery, rapine" - ON rn "robbery; plunder, spoils"; rt (first in 1127 ASC compound rt-fst) "root" - ON rt; rfter "beam" (modern raft) - ON raptr; saclas "innocent" - ON saklauss "innocent"; sala (one instance) "sale" - ON sala "sale"; sang (does not survive into ME) "bed" - ON sng "bed" (cf. Norwegian seng); scg "warship" - ON skei "warship, galley"; scgmann "seaman; Viking, pirate" - ON skeimar; sceppe (reappears in 1400s (Serjeantson)) "measure of grain or malt" - ON skeppa "dry measure"; scinn (1075 ASC) "skin" - ON skinn (OE used fell and hd "hide" to denote both animal and human skin); scoru (late OE) "a score, notch" - ON skor (cf. ON skora "score, make a notch, tally", related to OE verb scieran "incise, score with a point"); snacc "small vessel, war-ship" - ON snekkja "swift ship"; sparrian "bar" (ME sparren, sperren) - ON sparra "spar, bar"; stefnian "summon" - ON stefna "summon, call"; tacan "take" (1072 ASC) - ON taka (ousted OE niman "take" during the ME period); taper-x (e.g. ASC 1071) "small axe" - ON tapor-x "small axe"; targe (late OE) "small shield, buckler" - ON targa "small round shield"; tdung "news, tidings" - ON tindi "news, events, tidings"; til (Northumb.) "till" - ON til; nest, egnest "service" - ON jnusta "service" (cf. Norwegian tjeneste, German Dienst); onestmen "retainers" - ON jnostumenn "retainers, servants"; r "female servant" - probably ON rr "female slave, maidservant"; riing "third part (of a county), riding" - ON rijungr "third, third part"; rl "thrall, slave" - ON rll; weng "band" - ON veng "thong"; unlagu "violation of law, injustice" - ON lg "breach of law"; tlaga "outlaw" (common term in later OE) - ON tlagi (note derived OE verb tlagian "to outlaw"); wlraf "plunder from the slain" - (probably) ON valrof, valrauf "plunder from the slain"; wpengetc (Laws) "wapentake" (division of a riding) - ON vpnatak "the grasping or brandishing of weapons"; wcing "pirate, viking" - ON vkingr "man of the fjords"; wierml (1052 ASC) "counter-plea" - ON *vir-ml "counter-plea"; witter (once in 1067 ASC; common in ME) "wise" - ON vitr "wise"; wtword "written evidence, proof" : ON vitor "knowledge, privity";

Serjeantson makes a fascinating observation which is worth mentioning here. She points out that in OE ge, we may be seeing the first appearence of ON eir "they" in English. The word appears in two OE texts, for example, in the Late West Saxon Gospels as sume ge wron hene "some of them were heathens".

When we bear in mind that Old English was remarkable for the small amount of loanwords in its vocabulary, the number of loans from Old Norse at this stage seems quite significant; it informs us of the close links between the two linguistic communities, which were not always hostile. Indeed, the borrowing of pronouns and particles from one language to another seldom occurs, and yet perhaps OE and certainly ME borrowed these elements from Old Danish or Old West Norse. When we recall that in they are both the pronoun and verb form are Scandinavian (ousted OE (West Saxon) hie syndon), we realize how intimately the language of the Norse invaders affected English.

 

2 - MIDDLE ENGLISH*
i) Everyday words

 
a (ME) "river, stream" : ON "river" (cf. Norwegian "river"; form argues against derivation from OE a "river"); addlen (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "earn" : ON lask "gain, procure" (survives in dial. addle "earn, procure" - see below); algate "in every way" (ME c.1225: algate, other forms allegate, algates) : ON alla gtu "always" (-s adverbial suffix is native); allesamen (ME) "altogether, everyone together" : ON allir saman "all together" (cf. Norwegian alle sammen "everyone"); aloft (ME Ormulum, c.1200: o loft) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON lopti "above, aloft"; anger (ME c.1250 anger, angre) : Scandinavian source corresponding to ON angr "grief, sorrow"(ousted OE words grama and irre); attlen (Brut, c.1250) "think, intend; go" (now only in dial. ettle) : ON tla "intend, propose"; awe (ME c.1200: aghe, 1250: age): ON agi "fear; unrest" (ousted OE ege "awe, fear"); awkward (ME pre-1400: awkward, awkwart) : ON fug- "reversed, facing the wrong way" + Eng. -ward; axle (ME 1290, in the compound axeltre "axletree", ME 1368: axle) eaxl "shoulder" is known in OE but the modern word is probably from the ON loan xultr (hence axeltre above) from xull "axis, axle" and tr "tree"; bag (ME pre-1200: bagge) : ON baggi "pack, bundle"; bait (n) "food to entice animals" (ME c.1300: bait) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON beita "food, especially that which entices prey, bait", beit "pastureland"; the verb dates from c. 1300 (Barnhart); band "strip of material" (ME 1126: band, a dialectal variant of bond) - this was a combination of a Scandinavian word corresponding to ON band "bond, fetter; cord" and Old French bande "strip", originally from Germanic (Barnhart); bank (ME c.1200: banke) : probably from ON banki, bakki "bank, ridge, mound"; bark "outer layer of a tree" (ME c.1300: bark) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON brkr "bark", Mainland Scandinavian bark "bark"; bask (ME 1397: basken "wallow in warm water") : ON reflexive baask "bathe oneself"; bennk, binc (ME; now only in dial. benk, bink - see below) "bench, shelf" : ON bekkr "bench" (preservation of the -k proves this ME and dial. form to be Scandinavian and not derived from OE benc, from which the Modern Standard English form derives); b (ME c.1315) "town" :  ON br "farm, homestead"; bigg (ME early 1300s) "dwell; build" : ON byggja "colonise, populate, dwell, settle" (now only dial. bigg); birth (ME 1170: burth, 1200: burthe, burde): ON byr "birth, descent" (ME ibirde from OE gebyrd was ousted); bleak (ME 1300: bleike): ON bleikr "pale, whitish" (blke from OE blc is found in ME but gives way to the Scandinavian form); bloom (ME 1200: blom, blome): ON blmi (native were OE blstm, blstma > blossom); bloute (ME Havelok, c.1275) "soft" : ON blautr "soft"; bondeman (ME and eModE) "male slave" : ON bndamar (with a different meaning to the ME word; cf. Norwegian bonde "farmer, peasant", (archaic) "master, husband"); boon (ME bn) "prayer, boon" : ON bn "request, petition" (cf. OE bn "request, prayer"); booth (ME 1200: bothe (recorded earlier in ME place-names)): ON b "shop"; booty (ME 1474: botye) : ON bti "share" (bta "divide"); both (1124: bathe, 1225: bothe): ON bir; bound for "ready to go" (ME Ormulum c.1200: bn, pre-1400: bownde) : ON binn "prepared, ready", ODan. ben "ready, prepared"; br (ME c.1315) "violently" : ON brr "sudden, hasty"; bread (by ME c.1200 bread had the modern meaning) : ON brau (OE brad meant "crumb, fragment" - OE used hlf to denote bread); brennen (1137) "burn" : ON brenna "burn" (cf. OE brnan, biernan "burn"; cf. Norwegian brenne); br (ME c.1250) "eyebrow" : ON br; brodd (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "spike" : ON broddr "point, spike"; brink (ME 1225: brinke) : ODan. brink (ON brekka) "verge, brink"; brunie (ME; Brut, c.1250: brunie; - now only found in archaic Scots. byrnie) "corslet, mailshirt" - ON brynja (OE form was byrne); boulder (ME Havelok, c.1275 bulder(ston)) "stone" : cf. Swedish bullersten "stone in a stream which makes a roaring noise from the rushing water" - compound of bullra "roar" and OE stn "stone" (Barnhart) ; bull (ME bule) "bull" : OEast Norse bule; bulxe (ME) - ON bol-x "wood-axe"; bylaw "secondary law" (ME 1257: birelage, 1280: bilage, 1370: bilawe) : ON bjar-lg "local ordinance" (modern meaning appeared in 1541); cake (ME c.1220: kake "flat cake, flat loaf") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON kaka "cake", Modern Norwegian kake, Modern Danish kage "cake"; calf (ME pre-1325: calf) "hind of the leg below the knee" from ON klfi "calf of the leg"; call (ME 1200: callen, kallen) : ON kalla (ousted OE htan, clipian); carl(e) (known in OE in compounds and post-ME period only in English dialects meaning "rustic" - see below) "man, chap" : ON, ODan. karl "man, man of the people" (cf. Norwegian kar, Swedish karl "fellow, chap"); carling, carline "fore-and-aft beam in a vessel, used for supporting the deck" from ON kerling "old woman, hag"; carp (ME c.1225: carpen "talk, converse") now "complain, find fault" is a Scandinavian loan, cf. ON karpa "boast", karp "boasting, bragging"; cast (ME c.1200: casten) : ON kasta "throw" (ousted OE weorpan "throw, cast" cf. German werfen, Dutch werpen but was later largely pushed out by throw from OE rwan); clip "trim, cut" (not "fasten") (ME Ormulum, c.1200: clippen) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON klippa "clip, cut", Modern Icelandic, Modern Swedish klippa "cut, shear", Norwegian klippe "cut, clip"; coupe (ME Havelok, c.1275) "buy, purchase" : ON kaupa "buy" (cf. OE ceapian "bargain, trade, buy", Norwegian kjpe); crawl (vb.) "move slowly along the ground on one's hands and knees" (ME c.1200: crewlen, pre-1400: crawlen) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON krafla "make a pawing movement with the hands", Modern Danish, Norwegian kravle "crawl, creep; swarm"; crook (ME pre-1200: crk "evil device") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON krkr "hook, bend", Norwegian and Swedish krok, Danish krog "hook, bend, curve, nook"; cut (ME pre-1300: cutten, kitten and early dial. forms cutte, kitte, kette point to OE *cyttan, probably a Norse loan) : cf. Icelandic kti "small knife", Norwegian kutte "cut" (Norse word ousted OE snan "cut, slice" and partly ceorfan which survives as carve); cweld (ME) "evening" : ON kveld "evening" (cf. Norwegian kveld "evening"); derf (ME c.1250) "bold" : ON djarfr "bold, daring"; dil (ME c.1315) "conceal" : ON dylja "hide" (cf. Nynorsk dylje, dlje, Norwegian dlge); dirt (ME pre-1300: drit, drytt, 1425: dert, 1434: dyrt) : ON drtr "dirt, dung" (cf. Norwegian drit "rubbish"); dirty (ME c.1425: dyrty, from earlier dritty (pre-1400), from ME drit + y)  - see dirt above; down "soft feathers" (ME 1345-49: doune) : ON dnn "down, bed of down"; drag (late ME 1440: draggen "draw, pull") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON draga "pull, draw, drag", but possibly a dialectal variant of ME drawen "draw" from OE dragan "draw, drag"; dream (ME 1250: drem) : ON draumr "dream" (OE dram meant "joy"); dregs (ME 1378: dregges) : ON dregg sediment; dreng (ME; Brut, c.1250: dring, Havelok, c.1275: dreng) known from late OE - see above) "doughty young man" : ON drengr "bold man; fellow; attendant" (cf. Danish dreng "boy", Norwegian dreng "farmhand", (archaic) "brave young man"); drepen (ME Havelok, c.1275) "kill" either from ON drepa "kill, strike, beat" or OE drepan "strike, kill"; drip (ME c.1300: drippen drop down) : cf. ON dreypa let fall in drops; droop (ME 1300: drupen, 1333-52: droupen) : ON drpa "droop (from sorrow)"; drown (ME c.1325 drounen, drunen) : may be from a Danish equivalent to ON drukna "drown"; egg (ME 1340: eg, 1366: egge) : ON egg (defeated OE parallel g which appeared in ME as ei); egg "to incite" is according to Serjeantson already known in the OE loan from Norse eggian but I cannot corroborate this. Other authorities have ME c.1200: eggen from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON eggja "incite, whet"; farcost (ME) "boat; circumstances" : ON farkostr "vessel, ship"; fellow (ME 1250: felawe) : ON flagi "partner, comrade" (already recorded in OE as folaga); fken (ME c.1225) "hurry about" : ON fkjast "desire, yearn for"; fisk (ME) "fish" : ON fiskr (cf. Norwegian fisk; Modern English form derives from OE fisc, cf. German Fisch); flat (ME 1300: flat) : ON flatr "flat, level"; flit (ME pre-1200: flutten convey, move, take, flitten ME King Horn (c.1225) "flit about") : ON flytja "carry, convey; fo, fa (ME) "get, obtain, attain" : ON f "take; get gain, win" (cf. Norwegian f); fog (1554 but clearly much older) probably from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON fok "snow flurry", fjk "drifting snow storm", Norwegian fokk "drift", Danish fog "drift, drifting snow"; frastys (ME early 1300s) "tempt" : ON freista "tempt";  frest (ME Havelok, c.1275) "delay" : ON frest "delay, respite"; fro (only in phrase to and fro; ME 1325: fra, fro) : ON fr "from"; frost (ME pre-1475: forst, frost) : ON frost; froe (ME c.1300) "froth" : ON froa "froth"; gain (ME 1473: gayne) : ON gagn "advantage, profit"; gait (late ME c.1450: gait, gate walking, departure, journey) : cf. ON gata way, road, path; gaite (ME) "goat" : ON geit "goat" (cf. Norwegian geit; Modern Standard English form comes from OE gt as indicated by the dipthong); gal (ME) "mad, foolish, crazy" : ON galinn "mad, wild; bewitched" (cf. Norwegian gal); gap (ME c.1325: gap) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON gap "chasm, empty space" (related to ON gapa "gape"), Modern Norwegian gap "wide open mouth; gap, chasm"; gape "stare with mouth open, yawn" (ME 1250: gapen) : ON gapa "gape"; garen, geren (ME c.1250) "prepare, do, cause" : ON gra "do, make"; gasp (ME 1393: gaspen) : ON geispa "yawn"; gaze (ME c.1395: gazen stare) : cf. ON g to heed; gere (ME early 1300s) "equipment, army" : ON grvi "gear, apparel"; gestning (ME c.1250) "entertainment, feast" : cf. OSwed. gstning; genge (ME Havelok, c.1275) "retinue, household) : ON gengi "help, support"; get (ME 1200: geten) : ON geta "be able to" (OE cognate gietan only occurred in compounds in OE); gten (ME Havelok, c.1275) "watch, guard" : ON gta "watch, take care of, guard"; gift (ME 1250: gift) : ON gipta "gift; good fortune" (OE form would given modern *yift); gill (mainly Northern dialect) "ravine, gorge" : ON gil; girth (ME c.1300: gerth "belt used in husbandry") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON gjr "girdle, belt"; the modern meaning first appears in 1664 (Barnhart); give (ME c.1200: gifen (pre-1130: yiven, yeven is from the native OE source West Saxon giefan "give" (OE c.725))) the gutteral g in the form of 1200, the form from which the modern word is descended is the result of Scandinavian influence, cf. ON gefa, Old Swedish giva "give, grant", whose form spread from the north during the ME period; glint alteration of earlier c.1380 glenten gleam, flash : cf. Swedish dial. glinta slip, shine; glitter (vb.) (ME c.1375: gliteren "flash, sparkle") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON glitra, glita "glitter, gleam"; greien (ME) "prepare" : ON greia "make, get ready"; guess (ME 1303: gessen) : cf. OSwed. gissa, ODan. gitze, related to ON geta "be able to, get, guess" (cf. ON noun geta "guess, conjecture"); gte(ls) (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "careless" : ON gta "heed, attend to"; hansel (ME early 1300s) "gift" : ON handsal "handshake binding an agreement"; happy (ME 1380: happy "lucky") : ON happ "good luck" (survived in ME as hap "luck, success"); haven (ME 1200: haven, from OE hfen "haven, harbour", probably from the ON word, and therefore the only ON nautical loan to survive into ME) : ON hafn; hwer (ME c.1225) "skilful" : ON hgr "handy, skilful"; helder (ME - now only dial.) "preferably, rather" : ON heldr "more, rather" (cf. Norwegian heller); heen (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "hence" : ON hean "hence"; hething (ME early 1300s) "scorn" : ON hing "derision, scorn"; hilen (ME c.1250) "hide, conceal" : ON hylja "hide, cover"; hit (ME pre-1200: hitten; also found once in late OE - see above) : ON hitta "hit upon, meet; strike"; hrnes (1137) "brains" : ON hjarni "brain, skull"; ill (ME 1150: ille "morally evil") : ON illr "evil, ill, bad" (OE used yfel "evil"); immess (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "variously" : ON miss "various, sundry"; keel (1338: kelle, 1410: kele) : ON kjlr; ket (ME c.1250) "flesh" : ON kjt "meat, flesh"; kettle (ME 1338: ketil, ketel) : ON ketill (replaced ME chetel from OE citel); kevel (ME Havelok, c.1275) "gag" from ON kefli also "gag"; kid "young goat" (ME Ormulum c.1200: kide) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON ki "young goat", Modern Mainland Scandinavian kid "kid"; kick (ME 1384 kiken) : possibly derived from a cognate to ON kikna "bend backwards, bend at the knees"; kindle (ME c.1200 kindelen, kindeln) : cf. ON kynda "kindle", OSwed. quindla "kindle"; laire (ME c.1315) "clay" : ON leir "clay, loam"; leg (ME c.1275: leg) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON leggr "leg; hollow bone", Modern Norwegian legg "calf, lower leg", Modern Swedish lgg "shin"; lift (ME c.1200: liften) : ON lypta "raise"; ling (date?) "heather" (ME ling) : ON lyng "heather"; link (ME c.1415: lynke "section of a cord or rope", c.1443: "link of a chain") from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Swedish lnker "chain, link", Modern Swedish lnk, Modern Norwegian lenke "chain, fetter", ON hlekkr "link"; (vb.) (ME c.1385: linken) probably derived from the noun; lre (ME) "face, skin" : ON hlr "cheek"; lit (now only dial.) "colour, hew" : ON litr "hew, colour" (cf. Norwegian ld); loan (ME 1175: ln, pre-1250: loan) : ON laun "reward, recompense" (cf. Norwegian lnn "wages"); loft (ME c.1225: loft) : ON lopt "loft; air, sky" (found once in OE - see above); loghe (ME Ormulum; c.1200: lwe; word Northern/Midland ME only) "fire" : ON logi "flame"; loose (adj.) "not firm" (ME pre-1200: lowse, c.1350: loos) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON lauss "loose" (OE form was las); (vb.) "set free, release" (ME c.1200: lowsen, c.1325: loosen) derived from the adjective (Barnhart); low (ME 1175: lah, 1280: low) : ON lgr "low, low down, short"; lug (vb.) "pull, drag" (ME c.1375: luggen "move heavily", c.1390: loggen "pull, drag") from a Scandinavian source, cf. Modern Swedish lugga, Modern Norwegian lugge, both "pull by the hair"; lurk (ME 1300 lurken, lorken, older *lusken) : cf. Danish luske "slink, sneak about, prowl" from MLG lcshen "lie hidden"; ml (ME Ormulum, c.1200: ) "speech, payment" : ON ml "suit, action, case"; may (ME Brut, c.1250) "maiden" : ON mey "girl" (also OE mg "kinswoman"; Norwegian m); meek (ME 1200: mok) : ON mjkr "soft, mild" (cf. Swedish mjuk "soft"); mire (ME 1300: muir, 1338: myre) : ON mrr "bog, marsh"; muck (ME c.1250: muc filth) : ON myki cow dung; muggy "humid" (ME 1390: mugen "to drizzle") : ON mugga "mist"; mun (ME) "mouth" : ON munnr "mouth" (cf. Norwegian munn); myn (ME early 1300s) "remember" : ON minna "remember, recall"; mynnyng (ME c.1300) "remembrance" : ON minning "memory, remembrance"; nag : cf. ON nagga complain, groan, grumble, dial. Norwegian nagga gnaw; irritate; naken (ME) "naked" : ON nktr (cf. Danish ngen; Modern Standard English form is from OE ncod); nae (ME) "grace, favour, mercy" : ON n "grace, mercy" (cf. Norwegian nde); nevenen (ME King Horn, c.1225; later nevnen) "name" : ON nefna "name, mention"; occ (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only; now only dial.) "and" : ON ok "and, also" (cf. Norwegian og); odd (ME 1280: odde) : ON oddi "odd number"; r (ME c.1250) "before" : ON r "before"; outlaw (ME 1300: outlawe) : ON tlagi; prod 1535, developed from ME brodden (c.1475) goad, urge from ealier brode pointed instrument : cf. ON broddr shaft, spike; race (ME c.1300: ras) : ON rs "race; course, channel" (cf. OE rs "onrush, attack; jump, leap"); radd (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "afraid" : ON hrddr "afraid, frightened" (cf. Norwegian redd); rag (ME 1325: ragge) : ON rgg "tuft, shagginess"; raid (ME c.1425) "military excursion" (originally on horseback) either from ON rei "ride, riding" or a Scandinavian influenced northern English form of OE rd "ride, riding, journey; raid" with an extension of meaning - which has otherwise given us "road"; raise (ME 1200: reysen, c.1250: reisen) : ON raisa "cause to rise"; rake (vb.) "gather in, sweep" (ME c.1250: raken "gather, rake") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON raka "scrape, rake"; rake "dissolute man" (ME rakel "rash" > eModEng. rakehell (1554) > rake) : cf. ON reik "strolling, wandering", Icelandic reikall "vagabond"; ran (ME; - known in OE (see above) with meaning "robbery") "spoils, plunder, loot, booty" : ON rn "robbery, plunder; spoils" (cf. Norwegian ran "robbery; booty"); ransack (ME 1250: ransaken) : ON rannsaka "search a house"; rapelike (ME c.1250) "hastily" : ON hrapeliga "hurredly, hastily"; rapen (ME c.1250) "hasten" : ON hraa "hasten"; r (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "counsel" : ON r "counsel, advice"; reef "section of a sail that can be taken in or let out" (ME c.1390: riff, emodE 1667: reef) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON rif "reef of a sail"; usage probably derived from ON rif "ridge, reef" from which our word reef (1584: riffe, riff) "narrow, rocky ridge" comes, via Early Modern Dutch (Barnhart); reindeer (ME c.1400: rayne-dere, 1408: reyndere) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON hreindri (hrein itself meant "reindeer" while dr denotes "animal"); OE hrn "reindeer" is identical but was ousted by the Norse form; rid (ME 1200: ruden, rudden, c.1250: ridden) : ON ryja "clear, free up"; rift (pre-1325) a split, act of splitting : cf. ON ript breach; rig (ME Havelok, c.1275) "back" : ON hryggr "back, spine"; r (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "quiet, peace" : ON r "rest, calm"; roose "to praise", ros "praise" (ME; - now only in dial roose) : ON hrsa, hrs "(to) praise" (cf. Norwegian rose, ros); root (ME 1127: rot) : from ON rt root; roen, ren (ME) "counsel" : ON ra "advise, rule, govern, command" (cf. Norwegian rde); rotten (ME pre-1300: roten) : ON rotinn "rotten, putrid" (the verb rot is however from OE rotian "rot, putrefy"; cf. ON rotna also "rot, putrefy" (Norwegian Bokml rtne, Nynorsk rotne)); rowst (now only dial.) "voice" : ON raust "voice" (cf. Norwegian rst); rug (1551-2) coarse fabric : cf. Norwegian dial. rugga coarse coverlet, ON rgg shaggy tuft; rugged (ME 1300 or earlier rugged) : ON rugr cf. Nynorsk rugga "large, heavy person"; sacrabar (ME) "plaintiff" - ON sakarberi "plaintiff"; sag (ME 1392: saggen) : possibly borrowed from Scand.: cf. Norw. sakke slow down, lag behind, Swed. sacka sink down; same (ME c.1200: same) : ON sami; sammtale (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "agreed" : cf. ON samtala "conversation" (Norwegian samtale "conversation"), a samtala "agree"; scab (ME 1275: scab) : ON skabb "mange, scab, scratch" (note also derived adjective scabby, a direct equivalent to native English shabby, which derives from OE cognate scb); scale (ME c.1300: scale) : ON skl "(measuring) bowl"; scant (ME c.1350: scant) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON skamt, the neuter singular of adjective skammr "short, brief"; scar "skerry, cliff" (ME 1395: scar) : ON sker "skerry" (cf. ON skera "cut"); scare (ME 1200: skerren) : ON skirra "avoid"; ON skjarr "timid"; scathe (ME c.1200: scathen) : ON skaa "harm, damage, injure" (cf. Norwegian skade or ska); scgh (ME early 1300s) "wood, forest" : ON skgr "wood, forest" (cf. Norwegian skog); scorch (ME skorken, pre-1325: scorchen) : probably from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON skorpna "be shrivelled"; scot "shot" (now only dial.) : ON skot "shot, shooting; missile"; scot (ME mid-1300s), skat (late ME/eModE dialect) "tax" : ON skattr "tribute, tax" (cf. Norwegian skatt "tax"); scowl (ME 1340: scoulen) : probably ODan. skula "scowl"; scrap : ON skrap "clatter"; scrape (ME 1225: skrapen) : ON skrapa "scratch out"; scream (ME 1175: scrmen) : possibly ODan. skrmme, ON *skrma "frighten, scare"; screech (ME 1250: schrichen, early 1300s skrken) : ON skrkja "screech, shriek"; scrub (c. 1303) scratch or rub oneself : could be from Middle Low German but cf. Norwegian and Danish skrubbe to scrub; seat (ME c.1200: sete) : ON sti "seat"; seem (ME c.1200: semen) : perhaps ON sma "beseem", from smr "befitting" (cf. related OE sman "reconcile"); seemly "proper, fitting" (ME c.1200: semlich) : ON smiligr "becoming"; sr (ME Ormulum, c.1200: ) "separate" : ON  sr "for or by oneself, separately"; serk (ME; - now only in Scots. sark) "shirt" : ON serkr "sark, shirt" (cf. Danish and Norwegian serk "shift, chemise"; ON word has reinforced OE cogante serc); silt (ME c.1440: silt) from a Scandinavian source, cf. Modern Danish sylt "salt marsh"; Barnhart argues for Middle Low German or Middle Dutch silte, sulte "salt marsh" - either is possible; sister (ME c.1250: sister) : ON systir (ousted OE form sweostor which appeared in ME as swuster); skath (ME c.1300) "injury" : ON skai "harm, damage"; skemten (ME) "joke, jest" - ON skemta "amuse, entertain" (cf. Norwegian skjemte "banter, jest", Icelandic skemmta "amuse, entertain"; note also ME skenting "amusement"); skere "clear, pure" (ME; - obsolete dial. skir, skeer "sharp") : ON skrr "clear, bright, pure" (cf. Nynorsk skir, Norwegian skjr "pure, sheer"); skid (1610) "beam or plank on which something rests" from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON sk "stick of wood" (also "ski"); skill (ME 1175: skil "skill, discrimination") : ON skil "distinction" (cf. ON skilja "separate"; - skil ousted descendant of OE crft "skill, art" in this sense); skirt (ME 1325: skirt) : ON skyrta "shirt" (competed with OE scyrte); skulk (ME c.1200: skulken) : probably ON skolla "skulk away, remain aloof", (cf. ODan. skulk; Norwegian skulke "shirk"); skull (ME pre-1200: sculle) : ON skalli "bald head, skull"; sky (ME pre-1200: sky) : ON sk "cloud" (cf. Norwegian sky "cloud" - ON word marginalised OE hofon "sky, heavens" to religious/lyrical use and OE wolcen "cloud" (cf. German Wolke) fell out of use (except in poetic and archaic welkin "sky, heavens")); slaughter (ME 1303: slaghter) : ON sltr "fresh meat" (cf. OE slieht "slaughter, murder; animals for slaughter"); slouch (1515) awkward, slovenly or lazy man : cf. ON slkr a slouching fellow; sly (ME 1200: sleh, 1303: slye) : ON slgr "cunning"; smile (ME c.1303: smylyng) probably from a Scandinavian source, cf. Swedish smila, Danish smile "smile, smirk, grin" but perhaps from Middle Low German *smlen; snare "trap" was already loaned from Norse in Old English times (OE snearu) from ON snara "snare, noose"; in ME we find pre-1100: snear, c.1300: snare, while the corresponding verb appears c.1395: snaren - a derivation from the noun (Barnhart); snub (vb.) (ME c.1250: snibben "rebuke", c.1340: snubben) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON snubba "curse, reprove, chide"; sprint (1566) spring, dart, prob. an alteration of ME sprenten (c. 1325) to leap or spring : cf. ON spretta to jump up; squall (modE. 1719: squall) : probably related to ON skella "make a noise; break out, burst out, strike" (cf. Nynorsk skjelle "cold wind", Swedish skvala "pour, gush"); stack (n) "hayrick" (ME c.1300: stac "pile, heap") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON stakkr "haystack", Norwegian stakk, Danish stak "rick, stack"; stagger (ME c.1434: stageren, a variant of c.1355: stakeren "stagger") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON stakra, staka "push, shove; stagger", Modern Danish stavre "dodder, totter"; steak (ME 1440: steyke) - ON steik "steak"); sterne (ME) "star" : ON stjarna "star" (cf. Norwegian stjerne; Standard English form derives from OE steorra); str (ME; now only dial.) "strong, great" : ON strr "big, great" (Norwegian stor); stro, stra (ME) "straw" : ON str (cf. Norwegian str; Modern Standard form is from OE straw); summ (ME Ormulum, c.1200: ) "as" : ON sum "as, like" (cf. Norwegian sum "as"); swain "(arch.) a male lover; a country youth, a rustic lad" (ME pre-1160: swein "young man, attendant") from a Scandinavian source (Scand. form ousted ME variant swon from OE swn "herdsman, peasant; youth, swain"), cf. ON sveinn "boy, servant, attendant", Modern Danish svend "fellow; swain; shop assistant", Modern Swedish sven "swain, page", Modern Norwegian svenn "youth, squire, page; journeyman" - as a personal name, Svend, Sven is still popular in Mainland Scandinavia; the now archaic or poetic sense in English of "lover, wooer" first appears c.1585 (Barnhart); swen (ME c.1250) "burn" : ON svia "singe, burn, roast" (now only in dial. swithen - see below); take (ME c.1200: taken) : ON taka (ousted OE niman "take, get, seize" (cf. German nehmen, Dutch nemen) which still occurred in the forms nimen, nemen during ME period); tangle (ME pre-1340: tangilen, variant of tagilen "entangle") probably from an OScand. source, cf. Swed. dial. taggla (Barnhart); tarn (ME) "pool, pond" (now only dial. tarn) : ON tjrn "small lake, pool" (cf. Norwegian tjrn, tjern "small lake, pond"); tattered (ME c.1340: tatrid wearing ragged clothes) : cf. ON tturr rag; their (ME 1303: theyr) : ON eira; them (ME c.1300: them): ON eim; theonest (ME) "service" (already loaned into OE as nest, egnest) : ON jnusta "service" (cf. German Dienst); erne (ME Havelok, c.1275) "serving wench" : ON erna "maidservant" (cf. poetic Danish terne "handmaiden", archaic Norwegian terne); they (ME c.1200: thei) : ON eir; though (ME 1200: thohh, c.1378: thowgh) : ON , auh "yet, though, nevertheless" (cf. OE ah, h); tnen (ME c.1250) "lose" : ON tna "lose"; tt (ME c.1315) "quickly" : ON tt adverb formed from tr "frequent, usual"; thrift (ME pre-1300 prosperity, profit, savings from ME thriven to thrive) : prob. influenced by ON thrift, variant of thrif prosperity; rinne (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "three" : ON rinnr "three"; thrive (ME c.1200: thrifenn, c.1300: thriven) : ON rfa "grasp", middle voice rfast "thrive, prosper" (cf. Norwegian trives "prosper, thrive", (dial.) trive "grab, seize"); thrust (ME 1175: thrusten "push with force") from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON rsta "thrust, force". The noun appears in 1513 (Barnhart);  Thursday (ME pre-1250: thursdei; from OE c.1000 Thurresdg, probably a contraction influenced by the ON form) : ON rsdagr (OE had unresdg, which would have become *Thundersday in Modern English - cf. German Donnersdag); thwart (ME c.1200: thweart) : ON vert, neuter of verr "athwart, converse, adverse" (Norwegian tvert "crosswise, athwart"); tight (ME 1325: tigt) : ON ttr "tight" (cf. Norwegian tett); toss (ME pre-1450: tossen pitch or throw about) : possibly Scand.: cf. dial. Swedish and Norwegian tossa to strew, spread; trust (n) "faith, confidence" (ME c.1200: truste) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON traust "help; confidence", Norwegian trst "comfort, solace"; (vb.) "have faith, confidence in" (ME c.1200: trusten) from a Scandinavian source, cf. ON treysta "trust; make firm"; uggen (ME c.1250) "fear" : ON ugga "fear"; ugly (ME c.1250: uglike, c.1325: ugli "horrible, fearful"; modern sense not until into 1300s) : ON uggligr "frightful" (cf. uggr "fear", OE ege "awe, fear"); tome (ME; - now only in dial. toom - see below) "empty, idle" : ON tmr "empty, vain, idle" (cf. Norwegian tom); umme (ME Ormulum, c.1200; word Northern/Midland ME only) "about" : ON umb "around, about"; wandra (ME) "suffering" : ON vandri "difficulty"; want (ME c.1200: wanten) : ON vanta "lack"; wassail (Early ME 1140: wes heil, c.1200: wshail, later: wasseyl, wassayl) : ON ves heill "be thou hale!" (could be OE wes hl) note the derived verb ME Havelok, c.1275 wesseylen "drink healths"; waythe (ME early 1300s) "hunting" : ON veir "hunting, fishing"; weak (ME c.1300: wayke, c.1325: weke) : ON veikr "weak, feeble" (OE equivalent was wc - this would have become *woak or *woke in Modern English); whisk (ME 1375: wisk, wysk quick sweeping movement) : ON visk wisp; window (ME c.1200: window) : ON vindauga (lit. "wind-eye"; Norse word ousted OE agyrel lit. "eye-opening"); wing (ME c.1175: wenge, c.1200: whing, 1390: winge) : ON vngr "wing" (OE used feera); witerr (ME Ormulum, c.1200: ) "wise" (a common word during the ME period) : ON vitr "wise"; witnen (ME) "witness" : ON vitna "witness, attest"; wr (ME early 1300s) "corner" : ON *wr "corner, nook"; wrong (ME pre-1200: wrang "twisted, crooked", c.1250: wrong, 1325: wrong "bad, immoral") : ON vrangr "injustice, wrong"; wyterly (ME) "plainly; indeed" : ON vitrligr "wise, sensible, judicious" (cf. Norwegian vitterlig "known, obvious").

*Note that these words were merely first recorded in ME literature but no doubt were more ancient in spoken English.

**They are given in their modern forms with ME forms in brackets, where known. Some forms have not survived into Modern English and are given in their recorded ME forms.

 

 

ii) Scots, Northern and Midlands English dialect words

 

One result of the Norse input into the English language is the large number of words in the dialects beginning sc- or sk-. Not all of these are loans from Norse but the presence in the dialects of large numbers of words starting with these letters probably lead to the use of sc- in native words originally beginning sh-.

The northern dialects often have [k] where Standard English has [t] and [g] where Standard English has [dj], for example thack thatch (ON ak), kirk church (ON kirkja), brig bridge (ON briggja).

The fact that such a frequent and fundamental part of speech as an auxiliary verb mun must made into the dialect vocabulary provides some idea of just how deeply Norse penetrated into early English.

The Scandinavian influence has left an indelible mark on the pronunciation of Scots and northern English. In some areas one can still hear forms such as garth yard, garn yarn, kist chest, kirn churn, skift shift, skelf shelf, skrike shriek and scrood shroud.

It is ON -au- that we find in dialectal rowk reek and nowt cattle not the OE cognates with -a-. Norse medial -ei- contributed to the retention in northern dialects of such forms as stain stone, hame home, mair more, ain own and aik oak. The -oo- sound familiar in such dialect words as oot, hoose and doon (feathers) may well have been reinforced by the same sound in the Norse cognates. The lack of a medial guttural -h- (cf. knight, right) sound in Norse probably accelerated the shedding of this feature in medieval English spellings such as dowter and rite are attested from the late 1300s onward in areas most densely settled by the Danes. Native Norse terms not attested in early English at the time of their borrowing are drengr bold man, grss pig, kjt flesh, lyng heather, sild herring and elska to love. All these words can be found in the dialects. The words barn child (cf. Norwegian barn), cwen woman (cf. Norwegian kone), wynstra left (cf. Norwegian venstre), gamol old (cf. Norwegian gammel), gnidan to rub (cf. Norwegian gni, gnide), tygle bridal were once common to both OE and ON, but are now only found in modern Scandinavian and some of the English dialects.

According to Xandry, Westmoreland, County Durham, Cumberland, Lancashire, and Northumberland have best preserved the Norse idiom in their local dialects, followed some way away by Cheshire, Derbyshire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Suffolk.

Of the 1617 words which Joseph Wright labeled as Scandinavian in origin in his Dialect Dictionary, Xandry calculates that 40% can be traced back to ON, 24% are to be found in Norwegian dialects, while 9% and 5% are found in Danish and Swedish respectively. Of these words, Xandry reckons 220 (13.6%) are agricultural expressions, 202 (12.5%) are to do with sailing and fishing, 155 (9.6%) relate to tools, 85 (5.3%) are names of animals, 52 (3.2%) refer to people, children etc., 35 (2.2%) refer to parts of the body, and 25 (1.5%) are plant names.

Many northern words in English dialects (and Scots) only occur in isolated regions or individual counties, so it is not possible to give an exhaustive list here. Some are also obsolete. But an attempt is made below to include dialectal terms from Norse which have at least a fairly wide currency.


addle "earn, procure" : ON la, lask "gain, procure"; air "sandbank" : ON eyrr "sandbank", MDan. r (Norwegian yr); algate "in every way" (ME c.1225: algate, other forms allegate, algates) : ON alla gtu "always" (-s adverbial suffix is native); and "breath" (ME c.1315 and) : ON andi "breath; soul, spirit" (cf. Norwegian nd); arr "scar" : ON rr "scar"; aund "fated, forewarned" : ON auinn "destined" (Norwegian auden, Swedish en); awns "chaff" : ON agnar (sing. gn) "chaff, husks" (Danish avner, Norwegian agner); aye "always" (ME ay) : ON ei, ey "always, ever" (OE "ever" > ME ); bain "flexible, ready, direct" (ME early 1300s bein, bain) : ON beinn "straight, direct" (note Yorksh. bainsome "helpful, at hand", Norwegian beinsam); bairn "child" (ME 1150: barn) : ON barn "child" (partly OE bearn) "child"; bait "graze, send to pasture" : ON beita "cause to bite" (Norwegian beite); bask "thrash, beat severely" : ON (probably from Middle Low German batschen) "thrash, beat" (cf. Norwegian baske "slap", Standard English bash probably derives from the Norse form); batten "thrive" : ON batna "improve"; beck "stream" : ON bekkr "brook, stream" (Norwegian bekk); bigg barley : ON bygg, cf. Norwegian bygg barley; big, biggen "build" : ON byggja, byggva "inhabit; build" (Norwegian bygge, Nynorsk byggje); birr "force, impetus" : ON byrr "favourable wind"; blowt "soft, weak" : ON blautr "soft, weak; wet" (Norwegian blt); brae, bree (mainly Scots.) "hillside, slope, bank; an upland area" (ME 1300s: br, brea) : probably from ON br "eyebrow" or related (cf. Norwegian Nynorsk br "eyelid", English brow < OE br); brat "steep; sudden" : ON brr "sudden, hasty" (Nynorsk br "abrupt, sudden", Norwegian bratt "steep; sudden"); brenn "burn" : ON brenna "burn" (Norwegian brenne); bro "footbridge" : ON br "bridge"; busk "dress oneself" : ON bask "get oneself ready"; cair "drive" (ME kairen, cairen) : ON keyra "drive, thrust; ride" (Norwegian kjre); car "pond, swamp, pool" : ON kjarr "thicket, copsewood" (Danish kr, Norwegian dialect kjerr "bog"); carle "rustic, peasant" : ON karl "man, fellow" (Norwegian kar, Swedish karl "fellow, chap"); carlin, carline (Scots., dial.) "old woman, hag, witch" first recorded in 1300s ME , from ON kerling "old woman, hag" (therefore identical in origin with carling above), cf. Modern Danish klling "hag, crone; old woman", Modern Swedish krring "old woman; crone", Modern Norwegian kjerring "old woman"; chaft jawbone; mouth (in pl.) : ON kjaptr (cf. Norwegian kjft); cled "clothes, apparel" : ON kli "cloth, garment" (Nynorsk klede, Norwegian klr); clegg gadfly : ON kleggi; crake "raven, rook" : ON krkr "crow, raven" (Norwegian krke "crow"); dag "dew" : ON dgg "dew" (Norwegian dugg, dogg); drucken drunken : ON past participle drukinn; ea island : ON ey island (cf. Norwegian y); elding "fuel" : ON eldsneyti, eldvir "wood, material for burning"; elt "slush, mud, quagmire" : from ON verb elta "knead, squeeze" (Norwegian elte "mess, quagmire"); ert "pea" : ON ertr "pea" (Norwegian ert); ettle "intend, propose" : ON tla "intend"; ewer "udder" : ON jgr "udder" (Danish yver, Norwegian jur); far "sheep" : ON f "cattle, sheep; money" (Norwegian fr "sheep"); feal "hide" : ON fela "hide, conceal"; fell "hill, mountain" (ME fell) : ON fell, fjall "hill, fell, mountain" (cf. Norwegian fjell); flit "move" : ON flytja "carry, convey, move" (Norwegian flytte); force "waterfall" (ME fors) : ON fors, foss (cf. Norwegian foss); frae "from" : ON fr (Nynorsk fr, Norwegian fra); frosk "frog" : ON froskr (cf. Norwegian frosk); gain "convenient, handy" : ON gagn "advantage, benefit, profit"; gape "yawn" (ME 1250: gapen) : ON gapa "gape, stare with the mouth open"; gar "make" : ON gera, grva "make, do, construct" (Norwegian gjre); garn, gairn vb. "to darn" and noun "yarn" : ON garn (ME garn; standard English yarn probably derives from OE gearn); garth "field, yard" : ON garr "fence, enclosure; dwelling" (Norwegian grd; cf. modern yard < OE geard); gate "way, street, road" : ON gata "path, way, road"; gaum "heed" : ON gaumr "attention, heed" (Nynorsk gaum; cf. also English gormless from ON gaumr); gawk "cuckoo" : ON gaukr (Norwegian gauk); glatten, gladden "smooth, polish, soften" : ON *gletta (?) (cf. Norwegian glatte, Norw. dial gletten "smooth, slippery", Danish glat "smooth", Middle Dutch glad, glat); gleg "small window" : ON gluggr "window" (Norwegian glugg "small window"); glegg "clear-sighted, sharp" : ON glggr "sharp, clear" (Nynorsk glgg); goadick "mystery, riddle, puzzle" : ON gta "riddle" (Norwegian gte); gool "yellow, fallow" : ON gulr "yellow" (Norwegian gul); grice "pig" : ON grss "hog, pig" (Norwegian gris); grum "angry, surly" : ON gramr "wroth, angry" (cf. OE gram "angry, cruel, fierce"); haaf "open sea" : ON haf "sea, ocean"; hag "to hew" : ON hggva "strike, smite, hew" (cf. Nynorsk hogge, Norwegian hugge); haver "oats" : ON hafre (cf. Norwegian havre); helder "rather" : ON heldr "more, rather" (cf. Norwegian heller); henstee "chicken runway" : ON hnsstgr (?) (Norwegian hnsestige); heppen "tidy" : ON heppinn "lucky, happy" (Nynorsk heppen); hill "cover up, wrap" : ON hylja "hide, cover"; hoast "cough" : ON hsti "cough" (Norwegian hoste); how "hillock" : ON haugr "mound" (Norwegian haug, Danish hj); ing "meadow" : ON eng "meadow, pasture"; intake new enclosure : ON in+taka; keek in "peep in" : late ON derived from MLG kken (cf. Norwegian kikke); kelda "spring" : ON kelda "well, spring" (Norwegian kilde); kenning "knowledge" : ON kenning "teaching, doctrine; hallmark"; ket "carrion" : ON kjt "meat" (Norwegian kjt); kirk "church" (ME 1200: kirke) : ON kirkja; kirn "churn" : ON kjarni "kernel" (Norwegian kjerne, Nynorsk kinne); kist "chest" : ON kista "chest, coffin"; kittling "chicken" : ON kjklingr "chick" (Norwegian kylling); laik, lake "to play, sport" : ON leika "play" (cf. Norwegian leike, leke); lait "search" : ON leita "seek, search" (Norwegian leite); lathe "barn" : ON hlaa "store-house, barn"; lax "salmon" : ON lax (cf. Norwegian lax, German Lachs); lea "scythe" : ON ljr, l (Norwegian lj); leising "freed man" : ON leysingi "freed man"; lift "air, sky" : ON lopt "air, sky; loft"; lig "lie (down)" : ON liggja "lie (down)" (Nynorsk liggje, Norwegian ligge); ling "heather" : ON lyng "heather" (Norwegian lyng); lit "to dye" : ON lita "dye"; lithe, lythe (ME len; now only obsolete dial. form) "listen" : ON hla "listen, obey" (cf. Norwegian lytte "listen"); lop (ME loppe) "flea" : ODan. lopp "flea" (Norwegian loppe); loup "leap, run with strides" : ON hlaupa "run" (Norwegian lpe, lype, ME loupen, Standard English lope, all from hlaupa, English cogate was OE hlapan, modern leap); meal sandbank : ON melr sandhill; mense (ME mensk) "honour, respect, good manners" : OSwed. mnska "goodness"; mickle "great, large" : ON mikill "great, large; much" (Norwegian Bokml meget, mye, Nynorsk mykje); min "less" : ON minnr "less" (cf. Norwegian mindre "less"); minne "lesser" : ON minni (cf. Norwegian mindre "less"); mirk "dark" : ON myrkr "darkness" (cf. Norwegian mrke; this mainly dialect word may in fact derive from OE mirce "darkness, murk"); mun "mouth" : ON munnr "mouth" (cf. Norwegian munn); mun "must" : ON munu "shall, will, must" (cf. Norwegian m "may, must"); mug "fog" : ON mugga "drizzling mist"; naut (Scots), nowt (North. Eng.) "cattle" : ON naut "cattle, livestock" (OE parallel was nat, found in Shakespeare - now obsolete; Norwegian naut, Jutlandic dialect nd); nay "no" (ME 1325: nai) : ON nei; neave, neive "fist" : ON hnefi "fist" (Norwegian neve "fist, handful"); near, niere, nyre kidney : ON nra (cf. Norwegian nyre); oast "cheese" : ON ostr "cheese" (Norwegian ost); oc "and" : ON ok "and, also" (cf. Norwegian og "and"; OE ac "but, and"); ouse "bale out" : ON ausa "to pump, bale" (cf. Nynorsk ause, Norwegian se); ownly "lonely, dreary" : ON aumligr "wretched" (cf. Nynorsk aumleg "wretched", OE earm "poor, wretched"); quey, quee "heifer" (ME cwie) : ON kvga "heifer" (cf. Norwegian kvige "heifer", kveg "cattle"); raun, rown a female fish, esp. the herring or salmon : ON hrogn (cf. Dan. rogn); rawk sea fog, fog : cf. Swed. rk, Danish rg smoke; red up "tidy, clear" : ON reia "shift, convey; lift" (Norwegian rede opp); rig "rye" : ON rugr (Danish ryg, Norwegian rug); roose "praise" : ON hrs "praise"; roose " to praise" : ON hrsa "praise" (cf. Norwegian ros, rose); sammen "together" : ON saman "together, in common" (cf. Norwegian sammen, German zusammen); scar, sker skerry : ON sker skerry; scarn, skarn "dung, filth" : ON skarn "dung" (Norwegian skarn "dirt, filth, dung", Swedish skarn "dung, filth"); scrat goblin : ON skratti devil, demon; seng "bed" : ON sng (found once in OE - see above; Norwegian seng); skep "basket" : ON skeppa "a measure" (archaic Norwegian skjeppe "dry measure"); skoal (Scots - recorded from 1600 onwards) "hail! cheers!" : ON skl "bowl, vessel" (cf. Norwegian skl "bowl" and also "cheers!"); skrellin "weakling, wretch" : ON skrling "native inhabitant of Greenland" (Norwegian skrling "weakling, wretch"; cf. Modern Icelandic skrlingi "barbarian"); slem "mud, sludge, ooze" : cf. Norwegian slam "mud, ooze, sludge, slime", Swedish slem "slime, phlegm"; sniggle "snail" : ON snigill (Nynorsk snigel, Norwegian snegl); spae "foretell" : ON sp "predict, prophesy" (Norwegian sp); spear "ask, enquire" : ON spyrja "ask" (Nynorsk sprje, Norwegian sprre); stang "stake, pole" : ON stng "staff, pole" (Danish stnge "bar, pole, rod, shaft"); stithy, stiddy "anvil" (ME stee, stei, stii) : ON stei "anvil" (Norwegian ste); stive "dust, smoke" : late loan in ON from MLG stof (Norwegian stv, Danish stv); stor "large, big" (ME str "strong, great") : ON strr "big, great" (Norwegian stor); stud "steer, bullock" (ME 1200: stod) : ON sttr "stud" (Norwegian stut); sum "as" : ON sem "as, which, like" (Norwegian som "as, which"); swawl "swallow" : ON svelja (Nynorsk svelgje, Norwegian svelge; Modern Standard English swallow is descended from OE swelgan); swip "likeness" : ON svipr "look, appearance" (cf. Nynorsk svip "resemblance, appearance"); swithen (also swidden and swizzen) "burn superficially, shrivel up, singe, scorch" : ON svina "be singed" (also nouns swidden, swivven "place in a moor cleared by burning"; cf. Nynorsk svide "burn, scorch"); tang spit of land : ON tangi; tarn (ME 1380: terne) "pool" : ON tjrn "small lake, pool" (cf. Norwegian tjrn, tjern "small lake, pond"); tine "to lose" : ON tna "lose, destroy" (cf. Nynorsk tyne "plague, torment; kill, destroy"); toft "homestead" : ON topt "homestead"; toom "empty" : ON tmr "empty, idle, vain" (Norwegian tom); trigg "safe, secure" : ON tryggr "faithful, true" (Norwegian trygg); udal : ON al "ancestral property, inheritance" (Norwegian odel; cf. OE eel "ancestral home"); ug "fear" : ON uggr "fear, apprehension"; veesick "show" : reflexive of ON vsa "show" (Norwegian vise); wale "choose" : ON velja "choose, select, pick out" (Nynorsk velje, Norwegian velge); wath "ford" : ON va (cf. Norwegian vad "ford", OE w "wade, ford"); waur "worse" (ME werre) : ON verr "worse" (Norwegian verre); wick "creek" : ON vk "bay, inlet" (cf. ON vkingr); will "bewildered" : ON villr "bewildered, astray, wild" (cf. Norwegian vill "savage, fierce; unruly"); yammer "moan; bewail, lament" : ODan. imre from MLG jmeren (cf. Norwegian jamre).

 

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Edward Sproston 2011

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