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Thursday, September 23, 2010

To Go Aviking

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine, "From the fury of the Northmen deliver us, O Lord."

Norway was first inhabited over 10,000 years ago during the Ice Age. However, the country’s greatest impact on world history came during a never to be forgotten 250 year period – known as the Viking Age - from 800 to 1050 AD.

Fearless sailors with a knowledge of ship building called clinker built ships that was way ahead of its time, the Vikings were presumed pirates but sported a much more complex culture than most believe.

My current wip is set in the Viking era about a Viking maid who declares war on her own people and like the age of sail, I have found myself engrossed with this fascinating history.

What else is fascinating about this culture and people are the fact that many of the words and phrases we use today came from the Vikings and the Viking saga’s. So as a little history lesson I thought to compile and share my little findings. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

WEDNESDAY- From Viking meaning Woden's Day or Odin's Day.

THURSDAY- From Viking meaning "Thor's Day."

FRIDAY- From "Frey's Day." Frey was a male god who gave his sword to a mortal (Skirnir) who lost the sword - so Frey could not battle in Ragnarok (that was the final battle or twilight of the gods). Another possibility is that it comes from Frigg's day - she was the wife of Odin, the Queen of the heavens and the goddess of love and the household.

Phrases in the Viking Saga’s:

Birds of a feather flock most together. Njal's Saga

When ill seed has been sown, so an ill crop will spring from it. Njal's Saga

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Njal's Saga,

Better is one crow in the hand than two in the wood. Laxdaela Saga,

Luck accompanies wisdom. The Saga of Olaf Haraldsson

A small bird makes a small catch. Fljotsdale Saga

A wise man does all things in moderation. Gisli Sursson's Saga

There is a time for everything. Grettir's Saga

Beggars always want to be choosers. Örvar Odd's Saga

Don't bite the hand that feeds you. Volsunga Saga

Quality over quantity. Volsunga Saga

the tables often turn. Volsunga Saga

Common words we use:

anger – (ON angr ‘grief’) [1220-1250]

birth – (ON burðr) [1016-1150]

bleak – (ON bleikr ‘pale’) [1250-1300]

bloom – (ON blóm) [1016-1150]

call – (ON kalla) [before 1016]

cast – (ON kasta) [1016-1150]

crawl – (ON krafla) [c.1350]

crook – (ON krókr) [1016-1150]

die – (ON deyja) [1016-1150]

fellow – (ON félagi) [before 1016]

gear – (ON gervi ‘equipment’) [1300-1450]

get – (ON geta) [c.1250]

hit – (ON hitta ‘to come upon’) [1016-1150]

husband – (ON hús ‘house’ and bóndi ‘householder’) [before 1016]

ill – (ON illr) [1016-1150]

kid – (ON kiþ) [1220-1250]

kindle – (ON kynda) [1016-1150]

knife – (ON knífr) [1016-1150]

law – (ON lag ‘law’)

leg – (ON leggr) [1016-1150]

lift – (ON lypta) [1250-1300]

loan – (ON lán) [1016-1150]

loose – (ON lauss) [1300-1450]

low – (ON lágr) [1016-1150]

meek – (ON mjúkr ‘gentle, soft’) [1016-1150]

rag – (ON rögg) [1016-1150]

raise – (ON rísa to rise) [1016-1150]

ransack – (ON rann-saka ‘to search a house’) [1220-1250]

sale – (ON sala) [1016-1150]

scare – (ON skjarr ‘timid’) [1016-1150]

seem – (ON sæma ‘to conform to’) [1250-1300]

skill – (ON skil) [1016-1150]

skin – (ON skinn) [1016-1150]

skirt – (ON skyrt) [after 1450]

sky – (ON skie ‘cloud’) [1220-1250]

slaughter – (ON sláter ‘butcher’s meat’) [1300-1450]

sly – (ON slœgr) [c.1250]

snare – (ON snara) [1016-1150]

take – (ON taka) [1016-1150]

thrive – (ON þrífa ‘to grasp’) [1016-1150]

trust – (ON traust) [c.1250]

ugly – (ON uggr ‘fear’) [1220-1250]

wand – (ON vöndr) [1016-1150]

want – (ON vanta) [1016-1150]

weak – (ON veikr) [1250-1300]

window – (ON vindauga ‘wind eye’) [1220-1250]

wing – (ON vengr) [1016-1150]

wrong – (ON rangr ‘awry, unjust’) [before 1016]

Also some others I could not find the origin of are husband, berserk, shirt, egg, plough, ugly, and steak.

Interesting stuff, what have you run across in your research that surprised you, good or bad. Share it with us here.

Please note much of this came from www.vikingrune.com and the Viking Answer Lady at http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/index.shtml


  1. Very cool post!
    In town, there is a little craft/antique shop and it's named Rannsaka - little did I know I'd find it here in your list!!
    rann-saka -- I'm tickled that the word has actual meaning. Prior to your post I thought it was just a clever sniglet. Thanks!

  2. I love it when you post your research, especially since we write in different time periods and cultures.

  3. LOL I am soo happy I could help out a little Xeranthemum. History is full of little tidbits we just have to dig them up!

    And thanks Samatha. I probably spend more time researching my novels than writing them lol. There's just nothing quite as fun as stumbling across something in history that gets the old wheels turning.

    Thanks for stopping by you guys and sharing my little historical treasure with me!

  4. Very cool, Melissa! I love the list of words. Tons I never would have thought of. :)

  5. Research can be soooo seductive. LOL And when it leads from one exciting tidbit to another one and then another one. . .Ahem. I'm definitely a research junkie!

    I liked the variation up there of "Beggars always want to be choosers". It seems so much kinder than telling beggars they CAN'T be choosers. LOL Just because you're poor doesn't mean you don't like to have choices!