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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 Viking ship terms, click here.
  • For Viking runes, click here.
  • For more information on the Old Norse language and runes, see the Viking Language Book Series by Jesse L. Byock here.
Abbreviations and symbols used in the dictionary

Abbreviation/Symbol Meaning
ffemale (word gender)
mmale (word gender)
viintransitive verb
vttransitive verb
pppast participle
ordordinal (number)
compcomparative (as in bigger, biggest)
artarticle (e.g., a, the)
(‡)East Norse

Letter Order

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 ofrǫlviThis 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 altogether.  Despite the foregoing, the following order is observed when appropriate, both for the initial letter of Old Norse words and within the words themselves:  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 ligatures “æ” 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. 

English ---    Top a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s sh sk st su t u v w y z Old Norse ---

The Old Norse to English version of the dictionary provides a similar set of Link Bars, listing links for the Old Norse letters.  The "f" bar shown displays a midpoint link for "fœ".

Old Norse --- English --- Top a æ b c d e f g h i j k l m n o œ p r s t u v w y z þ

No Search or Find facility is provided for the dictionary, but the standard key combinations "ctl-f" or "alt-e, f" work pretty well.

Infinitive Verbs

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 dictionary  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 word “sew” 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:

"The following 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)."

Since my 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. 


  • A. 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, http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/lrc/eieol/norol-BF.html
  • E.V. Gordon, An Introduction to Old Norse, Oxford University Press; 2 edition (July 23, 1981), ISBN9780198111849
  • Jesse L. Byock, Viking Language 1, Jules William Press, © 2013, ISBN 9781480216440
  • Ross G. Arthur, English-Old Norse Dictionary, www.yorku.ca/inpar/language/English-Old_Norse.pdf
  • Jackson Crawford, YouTube Old Norse lecture series, Instructor of Nordic Studies and Nordic Program Coordinator, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Regia Anglorum: Mik Lawson: miklawson@yahoo.co.uk, http://www.mun.ca/mst/heroicage/issues/8/sayers.html
  • The Society for Creative Anachronism: http://www.housebarra.com/EP/ep04/12norsecurse.html

  ©   For information contact Jack Garrett at info@vikingsofbjornstad.com