Mighty Fine Blog

Viking Talk

As an isle that has been fought over many times, it is small wonder that many “foreign” words have crept into the English language. Yet, it may come as a surprise that one of the greatest contributors to our language is the Viking race.

The Vikings were renowned for their barbaric behaviour and it is, therefore, quite fitting that many of the words they bequeathed to us are, actually, quite brutal. For example, slaughter derives from the Old Norse word, slatr, meaning butchering and the word, anger, is a slight variation of the Old Norse verb, angra, which means to grieve, vex or distress. On a less aggressive note, steak comes from steikja, meaning to “roast on a spit” and kindle comes from kynda meaning to kindle or light a fire.

So, here’s a test, can you guess what the following words became in English?

  • Beserkr
  • Uggligr
  • Hel
  • Gunnhildr
  • Lagu

Well, if you opted for berserk (pretty simple!), ugly, hell (again pretty easy), gun and law, you’d be right!

To pick up a few modern day Scandinavian expressions, visit this wonderful part of the world with The Mighty Fine Company.

17. February 2014 by Joanne Wilson

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