Most times, the English language and its origins can be traced back to Latin and Greek words, but sometimes other languages creep into our vocabulary, like French, Indian, Middle Eastern and now Old Norse, which was spoken by Scandinavians in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
The word ‘Viking’ is an old norse word for ‘pirate raid’, with the Vikings controlling much of the Eastern English seaboard from the years 600 AD up until 990 AD. About 20% of the English language is made up Old Norse words, around 5000 in total.
The word ‘wrong’ comes from the Norse word “rangr”, which the Danish later translated into “vrang”. ‘Cake’ might seem like a fairly clear English word, but it too is taken from the Old Norse word “kaka”, which translate to little cake. And something which is found in a cake is ‘Egg’, which could come from two different places, “egius” by The Greek (meaning beginning of life) or the Danish word “æg”.
If you were a Viking, you had to be intimidating towards your enemies, like the New Zealand rugby team are during their haka to their enemies/rivals on the sports field. The word ‘Ugly’ is taken from the Old Norse word “ugga” which means “to fear”. The word ‘Husband” translates from “húsbóndi” which means “master of the house” from ‘hus’ meaning house and ‘bondi” which is occupier.
There has been words for swords, daggers and sharp implements for centuries, but a ‘Knife’ is an old Norse word which is derived from “knifr”; the word ‘Happy’ is from the Danish “happ”, which means good fortune (usually after a successful raid), and ‘Window’ is from “vindauga” which when broken down is “vindr” (wind) and “auga” (eye).
If you look forward to Friday’s, and find ‘Thursday’ another hurdle to get over, remember the Old Norse word “Þorsdagr” which translates as “Thor’s Day”, named after the Norse god of Thunder Thor. And when the Vikings wanted to give a ‘Gift’ to someone, we took that word from their “gipt”, which means to give a gift to someone.
What old words do you know about, and their origins? Let us know!
Taken from the article on Ancient Origins:
By Gavin Ryan