Old Norse Vocabulary: The 246 Most Common Words

“The total vocabulary of the sagas is surprisingly small. There are only 12,400 different words in the corpus of the family sagas out of a total word count of almost 750,000. The 70 most frequently used words account for nearly 450,000 or 60% of the total word count… the greatest benefit is found in learning the top 246 words.” – Jesse L. Byock, Viking Language 1

The Old Norse vocabulary below compiles the 246 most common Old Norse words that appear in the family sagas. A more extensive dictionary can be found here.

Additional grammars, and vocabularies can be found as part of the Viking Language Series.

Bolded Old Norse words are among the 70 most frequent words in the sagas.

— A/Á —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
afof; frompreposition
aldrineveradverb
allrallpronoun
annarrother; secondpronoun
aptrbackadverb
atthatconjunction
auðigrwealthyadjective
áon; ontopreposition
áðrbeforeadverb
— B —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
bakbacknoun
báðirbothpronoun
berato carry, bearverb
biðjato ask; tellverb
bjóðato offer; inviteverb
bóndifarmernoun
brottawayadverb
bróðirbrothernoun
farmnoun
búato live, dwell; prepareverb
bæðibothconjunction
bœrfarmnoun
— D —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
dagrdaynoun
dauðrdeadadjective
dóttirdaughternoun
drepato killverb
— E —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
eðaorconjunction
efifpreposition
eigato ownverb
eiginotadverb
einhverrsomeonepronoun
einnone (1)numeral
ekIpronoun
ekkinotadverb
enbutconjunction
endaand yetconjunction
engino (one)pronoun
ennyet, still, moreoverpreposition
eptirafteradverb
erwho, which, that; when; whereconjunction
— F —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
faðirfathernoun
fagrbeautifuladjective
fallato fallverb
farato go, travelverb
to get, obtainverb
fárfewpronoun
ferðjourneynoun
wealth; livestocknoun
fimmfive (5)numeral
fimmtánfifteen (15)numeral
finnato findverb
fjórirfour (4)numeral
fjǫlmennrwell attended; numerousadjective
fótrfootnoun
framforwardadverb
fráfrompreposition
fríðrbeautifuladjective
frændikinsmannoun
fullrfulladjective
fundrmeetingnoun
fyrirbefore; forpreposition
fyrrbeforeadverb
fyrriformeradjective
— G —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
gamalloldadjective
gangato walkverb
gefato giveverb
gerato do; makeverb
getato get, begetverb
góðrgoodadjective
gǫfugrnobleadjective
— H —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
hafato haveverb
haldato holdverb
hannhe, itpronoun
harðrhardadjective
hálfrhalfadjective
heillwholeadjective
heim(to) homeadverb
heitato call; be namedverb
heldrratheradverb
hestrhorsenoun
hérhereadverb
hinnthe otherpronoun
hjáby, nearpreposition
hlaupato leap; runverb
hlutrthing; partnoun
honshe, itpronoun
húshousenoun
hvárgineitherpronoun
hvárrwho, which (of two)?pronoun
hvárrtveggieach of the twopronoun
hvártwhetheradverb
hverreach, every; who?pronoun
hversuhowadverb
hǫfuðheadnoun
hǫggvato strikeverb
hǫndhandnoun
— I/Í/J —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
illabadlyadverb
illrbad, illadjective
inninsideadverb
íin; intopreposition
jarlearlnoun
— K —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
kallato callverb
komato comeverb
konawomannoun
konungrkingnoun
kostrchoicenoun
kunnigrknown; cunning; skilled in magicadjective
kveðato speakverb
kveldeveningnoun
kyrrquietadjective
— L —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
landlandnoun
langrlongadjective
laussloose, freeadjective
látato letverb
leggjato lay, placeverb
leiðpathnoun
leitato searchverb
lengifor a long timeadverb
liðfollowing, troopsnoun
liggjato lieverb
líkligrlikelyadverb
líkralikeadjective
lítilllittleadjective
— M —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
maðrman, personnoun
margrmanyadjective
málspeech; case, matternoun
meðwithpreposition
megamayverb
miðrmiddleadjective
mikillgreatadjective
mikitgreatlyadverb
millibetweenpreposition
minnmypronoun
mjǫkveryadverb
morginnmorningnoun
móðirmothernoun
mótiagainstpreposition
munuwillverb
mælato speakverb
— N —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
nemaexceptconjugation
norconjugation
niðrdownadverb
nóttnightnoun
nowadverb
nærnearlyadverb
næstrnextadjective
nǫkkurrsome, a certainadj. pronoun
— O/Ó —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
ofanfrom aboveadverb
okandconjunction
okkarrus (dual)pronoun
orðwordnoun
órout of, frompreposition
— R —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
ráðadvice; plannoun
ráðato advise; ruleverb
reiðrangryadjective
réttrright, correctadjective
ríðato rideverb
ríkrpowerfuladjective
— S —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
samantogetheradverb
samrsameadjective
sannrtrueadjective
that (one)dem. pronoun
sárrwoundedadjective
segjato sayverb
sekrguiltyadjective
semwho, which, that; asrel. particle
sendato sendverb
setjato setverb
sexsixnumeral
sikhim, himself, themselvesrefl. pronoun
sinnhis/her/their (own)poss. pronoun
sinntimenoun
sitjato sitverb
síðanthenadverb
sjausevennumeral
sjáthisdem. pronoun
sjáto seeverb
sjálfrselfadj. pronoun
skammrshort; briefadjective
skiljato part, separate; understandverb
skipshipnoun
skjǫldrshieldnoun
skulushallverb
skyldrrelated; necessary, obligedadjective
slíkrsuchadjective
sonrsonnoun
spjótspearnoun
spyrjato ask; learnverb
standato standverb
sterkrstrongadjective
stórrbigadjective
sumarsummernoun
sumrsomeadj. pronoun
svarato answerverb
sváso; suchadverb
sveinnboy, ladnoun
sverðswordnoun
sœkjato seekverb
sǫkcause, reasonnoun
— T —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
takato takeverb
tiltopreposition
tíðindinews, tidingsnoun
tíutennumeral
tólftwelvenumeral
tveirtwonumeral
— U/Ú —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
umaboutpreposition
undirunderpreposition
ungryoungadjective
uppupadverb
útoutadverb
útanfrom outadverb
— V —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
vanraccustomedadjective
varrawareadjective
vándrbadadjective
vápnweaponnoun
várspringnoun
várrourpronoun
veitato grantverb
velwelladverb
verato beverb
verðato becomeverb
verðrworthyadjective
vetrwinternoun
viðwith; againstpreposition
viljato wantverb
vinrfriendnoun
vinsællpopularadjective
vitato knowverb
vitrwiseadjective
vígslayingnoun
vísaversenoun
vísscertain; wiseadjective
vænnbeautifuladjective
— Y —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
yðryou (plural)pronoun
yfiroveradverb
— Þ —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
þangatto thereadverb
þarthereadverb
þáthenadverb
þegarat onceadverb
þingassemblynoun
þinnyouposs. pronoun
þóneverthelessconjunction
þóttalthoughconjunction
þrírthreenumeral
þúyoupronoun
þykkjato seemverb
— Æ —
Old Norse WordBasic English DefinitionPart of Speech
ætlato intendverb

Published by Fjorn

Fjorn (aka Steven T. Dunn) is an independent medievalist specializing in Norse history, literature, and lore. He obtained a Master’s degree in History in 2019 from the University of South Florida, which culminated in a thesis titled “Weaponizing Ordinary Objects: Women, Masculine Performance, and the Anxieties of Men in Medieval Iceland.” Outside of academia, however, he is working on a fantasy world inspired by the Norse history, literature, and lore that he has studied. He hopes to write many books and stories set in that world.

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