Standard English words which have a Scandinavian Etymology

Actions and States of Things

Abbreviations: E = English. ME = Middle English. SE = Standard English.Ice = Icelandic. Swe = Swedish. O Swe = Old Swedish. Dan = Danish. Nor = Norwegian. Scan = Scandinavian (in general). Fr = French. Du = Dutch. vb = verb. n = noun. adj = adjective. advb = adverb.

 

Standard English Source or present-day associations 
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akimbo (advb) With hands on hips, elbows turned outwards. Scan => ME. Ice kengboggin (bent into a crook).
anger (n, vb) Ice angr (grief), Dan anger, Swe ng (regret).
askew (advb) Not straight, out of position. Ice sk (on the skew, on the slant). Compare Yorkshire dialect skew-whiff (aslant, cockeyed).
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bang (vb, n) To beat. O Swe bng, Ice bang (a hammering). 
baffle (vb, n) To foil, to confuse. An earlier meaning was 'to disgrace'. Ice bagr (awkward, clumsy), bgr (uneasiness, strife). As a noun, a baffle is now a technical structure used to impede flow (for example, of gases) or reduce noise (as in a vehicle exhaust system).
bask (vb) From Scan into ME baske. Ice baa sik (to bathe oneself), Swe dialect 'a basa sig I solen' (to bask in the sun).
baste (vb) To beat. Ice beysta (to beat), Swe bsta (to thump). Not to be confused with baste (to pour fat over meat while it is cooking). A corruption may have given 'to paste' as in 'they gave him a right pasting', for 'a beating'.
bawl (vb) To call out loudly, to weep noisily. Ice baula (to low, as a cow does), Swe bla (to roar).
bet (n, vb) To wager. May be from Scan => Fr. Short for 'abet' in the sense to maintain or 'back'.
batten (vb) To grow fat. Ice batna (to grow better, recover, improve).
big (adj) Large. May be from Scan => ME. Ice belgja (to inflate, puff out), Nor belga (to fill one's maw, cram oneself), Swe dial blgig, bulgig (big).
bait (n, vb) A lure, usually of food, for catching prey, especially as in angling. Literally 'to make bite'. Ice beita (to make to bite), Swe bete, Dan bed (a bait). Compare Yorkshire dialect (to feed, to offer food, a packed lunch usually carried in a bait-tin).
blab (vb) To tell tales, to inform on someone, to reveal confidences. May be from Scan => ME blabbe. Dan blabbre (to babble), Swe dialect blaffra. Compare with Gaelic plab (a soft noise) and blabhdach (babbling, garrulous).
blunder (vb, n) To flounder about, to err. May be from Scan => ME blondern (to pore over a thing). Ice blunda (to doze, slumber), Swe blunda (to shut the eyes), Dan blunde (to nap).
blunt (n, vb) Dull, not sharp. May be from Scan => ME blunt, blont. Ice blunda.
bluster (vb, n) Ice blstr, Swe blst (wind, weather). Associated with SE blast. The verb form in modern E  describes the behaviour of a person whose speech is noisy, self-assertive or threatening.
bloat(ed) (vb, n) To swell, puffed out. Ice blautr (soft, effeminate) and blotna (to become soft, lose courage), Swe blt, Dan bld (soft, pulpy). Ruminant animals filled with gas as a result of overfeeding are said to be suffering from bloat.
bondage (n) Servitude, slavery, subjection to any constraining force. May be from Fr => Scan => ME bondage (servitude) borrowed from Ice bndi (a husbandman, a tiller of soil).
bound (vb) Ready to go. May be from Scan => ME boun (ready). Ice binn (prepared). Compare Yorkshire dialect bun (to have the intention of going).
both (adj) From Scan => ME bae. Ice bair (both - dual adjective), Dan baade, Swe bda.
box (vb) To fight with fists. Scan => ME box. Dan baske (to slap, strike), Swe basa (to whip, flog, beat).
braze (vb) To harden. May be Fr => Scan. Ice brasa (to harden by fire). Also E 'to braze' (to solder using brass). A brazier is a metal basket containing hot coals.
build (vb) To construct, to erect something. Scan => ME bulden. O Swe bulja (to build), O Swe bol (a house, dwelling), Ice bl (a house), Dan bol (a small farm).
bustle (vb) To make a show of activity, to hurry about. Scan (to dash about - literally, 'to splash about like a fish'). Dan buse (to bounce), Swe dialect busa (to strike, thrust). Probably allied to E busy.
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champ (vb) To chew, to munch noisily; also, to show impatience from a horse 'champing (chewing) at the bit', i.e., being anxious to move off.. Swe dialect kmsa (to chew with difficulty), Ice kiaptra (jaw).
clip (vb, n) To hold things together; a device for holding things together. Scan => ME klippen. Ice klippa, Swe klippa, Dan klippe (to clip or shear hair). The original sense was 'to draw tightly together', hence 'to draw together' the edges of shears to make a cut.
clumsy (adj) Lacking in dexterity and grace. Scan => ME clumsed, clomsed (benumbed, hence 'benumbed fingers' are clumsy). Swe dialect klumsen (made numb), Ice klumsa (lock-jaw), from the Teutonic base klam or kram (to pinch or be clamped-up).
cower (vb) To crouch or shrink back, especially in fear. to huddle up. Scan => ME couren. Ice kra, Dan kure (to doze, lie quiet) and Swe kura (to doze, roost, settle to rest). Compare Yorkshire dialect cahr (be quiet, settle down).
cow (vb), cowed (adj) To dishearten, to be disheartened. Ice kga (to tyrranise over), Dan kue (to coerce, subdue).
crash (vb, n) Swe krasa, Dan krase (to crackle). Allied to SE crack and craze.
craze(d) (vb, n, adj) Scan => ME crased (cracked). Swe krasa, Dan krase.
cuff (vb) To strike. Swe kuffa (to thrust, push).
cunning (n, adj) Sly and clever. Modified from Ice kunnandi (knowledge). Ice verb kunna (to know).
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dash (vb) To throw about, as in 'water dashing against rocks'. Scan => ME daschen. Dan daske (to slap), Swe daska (to beat).
daze (vb, n) Scan => ME dasen. (to stupefy). Swe dasa (to lie idle), Ice dasask (to be wearied - literally 'to daze oneself'). The original sense is to be stupid, to doze.
depth, deepness (n) Scan. Ice dp (depth).
daggle (vb) To moisten. Literally 'to wet with dew or spray'. From Swe dagg and Ice dgg (dew). Compare Yorkshire dialect deg (to sprinkle) and deggin-can (watering-can).
dank (adj) Scan => ME dank (wet). Swe dialect dank (marshy ground), Ice dkk (a pool).
dangle (vb) Scan. Dan dangle, Swe dialect dangla (to swing about), Ice and Swe dingla.
doze (vb) Ice dsa (to doze), Swe dialect dusa, Dan dse (to doze, to mope),
drip (vb, n) Scan => ME drippen. Dan drippe (to drip), Ice drop-i (to drip).
droll (adj) Ice troll (a hobgoblin, a merry imp), Dan trold, Swe troll. May have come through the route Scand => Du => Fr => ME.
droop (vb) Scan => ME droupen. Ice drpa (to droop).
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eddy (vb, n) Ice ia (an eddy, a whirlpool).
egg (vb) As in 'to egg someone on to do something'. Ice eggja (to goad on). Allied to SE edge as in 'to edge towards'.
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fast (adj) Scan. A peculiar use of fast as, for example, Ice drekka fast (to drink hard), sofa fast (to be fast asleep) and fastr verkum (hard at work). It means, in this sense, firm, close, urgent or quick. Compare Yorkshire dialect 'the gate's fast', meaning the gate is closed firmly or 'it's fast on that piece of wood' (it is caught firmly or tightly on the piece of wood).
fidget (vb) To move restlessly or nervously. Scan => ME fiken (to fidget, to hasten). Ice fika (to climb about nimbly, as a spider). Swe fika (to actively hunt after something).
flash (vb, n) To blaze suddenly. Swe dialect flasa (to burn violently), Ice flasa (to rush) and flas (swift running). The noun form is used as in, for example, 'it happened in a flash' for 'it happened suddenly or quickly'.
flare (vb, n) Nor flara (to blaze), the same as the Swe dialect flasa (see flash above).
flat (adj) Scan => ME flat. Ice flatr, Swe flat, Dan flad.
flng (vb, n) Swe flnga (to use violent action, to romp or race about).
flit (to move about) (vb) Swe flytta (to flit about, to move from place to place). Compare Yorkshire dialect use where flit has the more specialised meaning of 'to move to another house' and a 'moonlight flit' is to vacate a house secretly, still owing rent.
flounce (vb) The earlier meaning was 'to plunge about'. Swe dialect and O Swe flunsa (to plunge). Allied to SE flounder.
flurry, flurried (vb, adj) Swe flurig (disordered, dissolute), Nor flurutt (shaggy, dishevelled, disordered).
flush (to blush) (vb, n) Scan => ME flushen (to redden, as in anger or embarrassment). Swe dialect flossa (to burn to flare), Nor flosa (passion, vehemence). Allied to SE flash.
fluster (vb, n) Allied to SE flush and flash.
fledge (vb) Ice floggr (able to fly).
flee (vb) Ice flja, floeja (to flee), Dan flye (to flee). Allied to Ice fljga (to fly).
flippant (adj) Ice flippa (to prattle), Swe dialect flepa (to talk nonsense).
fond (adj) Came from Scan into ME in the sense of 'foolish'. Swe fne (a fool), Ice fni (a bouyant person).
frisk (to skip about) (vb) Ice friskr, Swe and Dan frisk.
frown (vb, n) May be Fr => Scan => ME frounen. Swe dialect fryna, Nor fryna (to make a wry face).
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gabble (vb) To prattle. Scan => ME gabben (to lie, delude). Ice gabba (to mock) and gabb (mockery). Compare with Irish Gaelic cab, gob (the mouth). Allied to SE gobble and gape.
gain (vb, n) To profit from something. Scan => ME gain. Resembles the Fr gagner in both form and sense.
gasp (vb, n) Ice geispa, Swe gspa, Dan gispe (to yawn). From an old form gaspa, allied to gapa (to gape).
gaunt (adj) Thin, lean. An older spelling is gant. Scan. Nor gand (a thin stick, a tall thin man), Swe dialect gank (a lean half-starved horse).
gaze (vb, n) Scan => ME gasen. Swe dialect gasa (to gaze, to stare at).
garish (adj) Obtrusively bright, showy, gaudy. Scan. From the verb gare (to stare) and allied to SE 'to gaze'.
geld (vb) To emasculate, castrate. Scan => ME gelden. Ice gelda, Dan gilde, Swe glla. May be related to the Gothic giltha (a sickle). Hence gelding, a castrated male horse.
gibe, jibe (vb, n) To mock. Scan from Swe dialect gipa (to gape, also to talk foolishly or rashly). Ice geipa (to talk nonsense), geip (idle talk). Also gives the SE gibberish.
glance (vb, n) A swift dart of light or a quick look. Scan. Swe glans (lustre) and glnsa (to shine), Dan glands (lustre, gloss).
glimmer (vb, n) To shine, often in the sense of 'to shine weakly'. Scan => ME glimeren. Dan glimre, Swe dialect glimmer and Swe glimma (to shine). Allied to SE gleam.
glint (vb, n) To shine, to glance. Swe dialect glinta (to shine) a nasalised form from Ice glita (to shine).
gloat (vb) Earlier meaning was to stare or gaze with admiration. But now used to indicate looking down contemptuously, from a superior position, on someone who has failed or been beaten. Ice glotta (to grin, smile scornfully), Swe dialect glotta and glutta (to peep).
glum, gloomy (adj) Came from Scan into ME as glommen (to look gloomy). Swe dialect glomma (to stare), Swe glmug (gloomy).
gnash (vb) To grind one's teeth together. Scan => Me gnasten (to gnash the teeth). Swe knastra (to crush between the teeth), Dan knaske (to gnash), Ice gnastan (a gnashing, a cracking).
gad (e.g. to gad about) (vb) Literally, to run like cattle stung by flies. Ice gadda (to goad). Associated with SE goad and goading.
grab (vb, n) To grasp, take hold of roughly. Swe grabba (to grasp). Allied to SE gripe.
grate (vb) To rub or scrape. Swe kratta, Dan kratte (to scrape). Compare with Yorkshire dialect scrattin which probably has an intrusive initial /s/ from the original, meaning to scrape, and which may in turn be related to SE scratch.
gruesome (adj) Dan gru (horror) with suffix -som, as in verk-som (active), also Dan grue (to dread), gruelig (horrid).
guess (vb, n) Scan => ME gessen. Dan gisse, Swe gissa (to guess).
gush (vb) Ice gusa (to gush). Allied to Ice gjsa (to gush) and gjta (to pour).
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hale (adj) As in 'hale and hearty' (in good condition, healthy). Scan => ME heil. Ice heill, Dan heel, Swe hel.
hail (vb) To greet, to call out to. Scan => ME heilen. A verb coined from the Ice heill (see hail, above). Swe helse, Dan hilse (to greet). Associated with the Anglo-Saxon wes hl (realised in modern orthography as wassail), a greeting which literally means 'be whole'.
harsh (adj) Scan => ME harsk. Dan harsk (rancid), Swe hrsk (rank, rancid, rusty).
hit (vb, n) To light upon, to strike. Scan => ME hitten. Ice hitta (to hit upon), Dan hitte.
hoot (vb, n) Scan => ME houten. O Swe hutta (to hoot), Swe hut ! (begone !). Compare with the Welsh hwt ! and Irish Gaelic ut ! (expressions of dislike).
hurry (vb, n) Not allied to harry but formed from an older word hurr. Swe hurra (to swing, whirl about).
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irk, irksome (v, adj) Came from Scan to ME as irken (to tire). Swe yrka (to urge, enforce, press, press upon). In modern SE, tiring or patience-testing.
jabber (vb) To chatter. Scan. Formerly jaber and jable, weakened forms of gabber and gabble. Based on gab- as seen in the Ice gabba (to mock). See also gabble, above.
jam (vb, n) To press, to squeeze. Scan. The same word as champ and chomp (to chew).
jaunt (vb, n) To ramble or play around, taking part in light-hearted excursion. Swe dialect ganta (to play the buffoon, to sport, to jest). Ice gan (frantic gestures).
jib (1) (vb, n) To shift a sail from side to side. Also spelt jibe, gybe. Dan gibbe (to jibe). Allied to Swe dialect gippa (to jerk up). Compare with Yorkshire dialect 'to gip' (to vomit' and Swe guppa (to move and down).
jib (2) (vb) To move restively, as a horse. Fr => Scan => ME. Also used in E in the sense of 'to refuse' as in 'the horse jibbed at jumping the fence'.
jumble (vb, n) To mix together confusedly. Scan.
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ken (vb, n) To know. From the same root as cunning. Swe knna, Dan kiende (to know). Found mainly in Scottish dialects now.
kidnap (vb) To steal someone away. Scan.
kill (vb, n) To cause to die. Scan => ME killen or cullen. The earlier sense was merely to strike. Ice kolla (to hit on the head, to harm), Nor kylla (to poll trees, from koll = top, head, crown, poll).
kindle (vb) To ignite. Ice kyndill (a candle, a torch). Probably borrowed from the Anglo-Saxon candel (a candle) as in candelmesse (Candlemass) whence Ice kyndillmessa.
kneel (vb) To fall on the knees. Dan knle, formed from kn (knee).
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low, lowly (adj) Humble, inferior. Scan. Ice lgr (low), Swe lg, Dan lav. The original sense is 'that which lies low or lies down', from Ice liggja (to lie).
lift (vb) To elevate. Scan. Ice lypta, lyfta (to lift), Dan lfte (from loft), Swe lyfta (from loft).
loose (adj) Not fastened, insecure, detached or detachable from its place, slack, relaxed. Ice lauss, Swe and Dan ls (loose). An early Gothic version meant 'empty'; compare this with the Yorkshire dialect verb 'to loose' = to empty, to leave, as in 't' football match 'is loosin' (the game has ended and the crowd is leaving).
lug (vb) To drag about. Swe lugg (to pull by the hair), from lugg (the forelock). Also Nor lugga (to pull by the hair). Compare Yorkshire dialect use of lugs (knots or tangles in the hair which are pulled by a comb) and luggy (descriptive of hair with tangles and knots).
lull (vb, n) To sing; to rest. Scan. Swe lulla, Dan lulle (to hum). From the repetition of 'lu-lu' in lulling children to sleep, hence lullaby. A lull is a quiet or peaceful pause in an otherwise ongoing activity.
lumber, lumber about (vb) To make a great noise. Swe dialect lomra (to resound), Swe ljumm (a great noise), Ice hljmr (a sound, a tune). In modern E usage, it indicates a blundering action or a clumsy way of moving about, as in 'he came lumbering down the lane'. Associated with the SE loud.
lurch (vb) Scan. A sudden roll sideways. May be associated with lurk.
lurk (vb) To lie in wait. Scan. Swe dialect luska, Dan luske (to lurk, to sneak around, to eavesdrop or listen in), Ice hlra (to listen).
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mash (vb, n) E or Scan. To beat into a mixed mass. A 'mash' is properly 'a mixture' and 'to mash' was 'to mix'. Compare Yorkshire dialect 'to mash the tea'. Swe dialect mask and msk (brewers' grains), Dan mske (to mash, fatten pigs with grain). Compare also with Scottish and Irish Gaelic masg (to mix, infuse, steep).
mawkish (adj) Scan with E suffix. The older sense is loathsome, literally meaning 'full of maggots'. Ice makr, Dan maddick, when Nor makk. Compare with Yorkshire dialect mawk (maggot; a surly, unfriendly person) and mawky, the adjective of this.
meek (adj) Ice mjkr (soft, agile, meek, mild), Swe mjuk, Dan myg (soft).
     
muggy (adj) Damp and close, humid. Ice mugga (soft drizzling mist) hence mugguver (humid, misty weather). Compare Dan muggen (musty, mouldy) and mugne (to grow musty). Perhaps allied to E muck/mucky.
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nab (vb) To seize, grab. From Swe nappa, Dan nappe (to catch, snatch at). Also used colloquially to mean 'to arrest'.
nasty (adj) Formerly also nasky. Scan. Swe dialect naskug and snuskig (nasty, dirty) and also Se dialect snaska (to eat like a pig, be slovenly), Dan snaske (to eat like a pig).
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odd (adj) Not even, strange. Scan. Ice oddi (a point of land, a triangle). Metaphorically (as in a triangle with 3 sides) an odd number. Hence the phrase standask odda (to be at odds with); and oddamar (the odd man out; the one who has the casting vote).
pore (vb) To look steadily, to gaze at, to visually study. Swe dialect pora, pura, pra (to work slowly and gradually).
prate (vb) To talk too much, to chatter, to talk foolishly. O Swe prata, Dan prate (to prate, to talk), Swe and Dan prata (to talk).
paltry (adj) Worthless. Scan. From palter (rags) which is still preserved in Dan and Swe as pielter, paltor.
queasy (adj) Nauseous, sickly, physically unsettled. Nor kveis (sickness after a debauch), Ice ira-kveisa (colic), Swe dialect kvesa (soreness).
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ransack (vb) To pillage, to plunder, to search thoroughly. Ice rannsacka (to search a house, ransack), Dan ransage.
rap (vb, n) To strike smartly. Scan. Dan rap (a tap), Swe rapp (a blow) and rappa (to beat).
rape (vb, n) Seizing by force, having sex without consent and usually involving violent force. Ice hrap (ruin, falling down), hrapar (a hurry). The word has been affected by popular etymology connecting it with the Latin rapere, to which it is really unrelated.
rash (adj) Headstrong, uncaring, ill-judged.. Dan and Swe rask (quick, rash), Ice rskr (vigorous).
rife (adj) Widespread. Ice rfr (abundant, munificent), O Swe rif (rife).
rig (vb, n) To fit out a ship. Nor rigga (to bind or wrap up, also to rig a ship). Compare with Swe dialect rigga (to harness a horse).
rinse (vb, n) To wash out with clean water, to wash out soap etc. May be from both Fr and Scan. Ice hreinsa (to cleanse), Dan rense, Swe rensa.
raise (vb) To lift, to heighten, to increase. Ice reisa (to make rise), Dan reise, Swe resa (to raise).
rive (vb) To pull apart or tear. Ice rfa (to rive, pull apart), Dan rive, Swe rifva. Associated with the SE rift.
rip (vb, n) To tear. Nor ripa (to scratch), Swe dialect ripa (to scratch, pluck asunder), Dan oprippe (to rip up). Allied to Ice rfa (see rive, above).
rivet (vb, n) A metal fastening device. Fr and Scan. Ice rifa (to tack, fasten together).
rock (vb) To shake, totter. Scan. Dan rokke (to shake, to rock), Swe rockera (to rock about).
rotten (adj) Bad, decomposed, corrupt. Ice rottin, Swe rutten, Dan raaden.
rugged (adj) Rough, uneven surface; irregular and strongly marked. From the Swe ruggig (rough, hairy).
rouse (vb) To excite, to wake up. Swe rusa (to rush), Dan ruse (rush). Allied to SE arouse.
rush (vb, n) To move swiftly forward. O Swe ruska.
rustle (vb, n) To make or cause a gentle sound, as of dry leaves blown in a wind. Swe rusta (to stir, make a noise). A varient of O Swe ruska (to shake, to rush).
ruthless (adj) Without pity. Ice hrygg (sorrow). The -less suffix is E.
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sag (vb) To hang or subside loosely and unevenly. Swe sacka (to settle, sink down).
scant (adj) Insufficient. Ice skamt (brief). In Nor nt appears for mt as in skant (a dole) and skanta (to measure closely).
scowl (vb, n) A sullen or bad-tempered look. Dan skule (to scowl, cast down the eyes).
scream (vb, n) To cry out loudly and shrilly. Ice skrma, Swe skrma, Dan skrmme (to scare, cry out loud).
screech, shriek (vb, n) To cry out shrilly. Ice skrkja (to shriek), Swe skrika, Dan skrige. Compare with Yorkshire dialect skrike (to cry out shrilly).
scare (vb, n) To frighten, to alarm. Ice skjarr (timid, shy) allied to skirrask (to shun, literally 'to sheer away from').
scarf (vb) To join timber boards or planks together (hence 'scarf joint' in woodwork). Swe skarf (a seam, a joint), Dan skarre (to join as in join edges together), Ice skr (a rim, edge, joint in planking).
scraggy (adj) Lean, rough. Swe dialect skraka (a great dry tree, a long lean man). Allied to Swe dialect skrokk (anything shrunken) and skrukka (to shrink together) and shrugeg (crooked). All from Nor skrekka (to shrink). Associated with the E 'to shrink' from the Anglo-Saxon scrincan.
scrape (vb) Originally to scratch with something sharp. Ice skrapa, Swe skrapa, Dan skrabe (to scrape). Compare E scrabble.
scud (vb) To run quickly. Dan skyde (to shoot). Allied to SE scuttle.
scuttle (vb) To hurry along. See scud, above.
scuffle (vb, n) A confused struggle or fight at close quarters. Swe skuffa (to push, shove, jostle). Associated with SE shuffle.
shallow (adj) Lacking depth. Ice sklgr (oblique, awry). Hence sloping, shelving as a shore. Compare Swe dialect skjalg (oblique, on a slant).
shiver (vb, n) To tremble. Ice kippa (to pull, snatch, quiver compulsively), Swe kippa (to snatch, to twitch). Compare the Ice use of k in words such as kona (= E queen) where the relationship of kippa to quiver becomes clear.
shrill (n, vb) As a noun, to cry aloud, but mainly used as an adjective in modern SE, as in 'a shrill cry'. Nor skryla, skrla (to cry shrilly). Compare with Lowland Scots skirl, as in 'the skirl of the bagpipes'.
shrivel (vb) To dry up and shrink in size. Nor skrypa (to waste), Swe dialect skrypp (to shorten, to contract), Swe skrplig (feeble), Dan skrbelig (infirm). Associated with the Old Northumbrian screpa (to pine away) and SE shrimp. Compare with Ice skrjpr (brittle, frail).
shrug (vb, n) The old sense is to shrink or shrink up. Dan skrugge, srukke (to stoop), Swe dial skrukka, skruga (to huddle oneself together). Allied to skrinka (to shrink).
shunt (vb, n) To turn aside, to push to one side. Ice skunda (to speed). Allied to SE shun.
shy (adj, vb) The earlier meaning was scrupulous, shunning evil. Dan sky (shy), Swe skygg (skittish, shy, coy).
simper (vb) To smirk. Nor semper (fine, smart), Dan dialect semper, simper (affected, coy, prudish), O Swe semper (one who affectedly refrains from eating). Formed from O Swe sipp, simp (an affected woman). All from the notion of sipping, or taking only a little at a time, hence prudish, coy, affected, as in 'a simpering person' or a 'simpering attitude'.
skim (vb) To take off a layer. Dan skumme, Swe skumma (to skim), from skum (scum = that which is skimmed off).
skittish (adj) Lively, playful, nervous. Scan (to flounce, caper about). Swe dialect skytta, skyttla (to run about) and skutta, sktta (to leap about). Associated with the Swe skjuta (to shoot).
slam (vb, n) To close or cause to come together forcefully, as when shutting a door hard. Nor slemba, slemma (to smack, bang, slam a door), Swe dialect slmma (to push hastily), Ice slamra (to slam), Swe slammer (a noise). Allied to SE slap.
slant, slanted (n, adj) To slope. Swe dialect slenta, slnta (to slide, to slip), Swe slinta (to slip, glance aside). Allied to the SE slide and aslant (on the slant) and slink.
slaughter (vb, n) To kill. Ice sltr (slaughter), Dan slagt.
slaver (vb) To drool or slaver at the mouth. Ice slafra (to slaver).
sleek, slick (adj) Smooth, glossy. Ice slkr (sleek, smooth).
slobber, slupper (vb) To do carelessly. Dan slubbre, Swe dialect slubbra (to be disorderly). Probably allied to Swe dialect slubba (to mix carelessly).
slouch (vb) The earlier meaning was 'to have a clownish look or gait'. Ice slkr (a slouching fellow) allied to slakr (slack). Compare with Swe sloka (to droop), slokig (hanging, slouching), Dan slugret (having drooping ears).
sly (adj) In a cunning, secretive way. Ice slgr (sly, cunning), Swe slug, Dan slug, slu.
smack (vb, n) To give a sounding blow. Allied to Swe smacka (to smack), Swe dialect smakka (to throw down noisily) and smkka (to hit smartly).
smash (vb, n) To break into pieces, to destoy, to defeat, to strike or move with great force. Swe dialect smaske (to kiss with a sounding smack), smask (a slight report, noise) and smiska (to slap).
smelt (vb) To fuse ore. Dan smelte (to smelt), Swe smlta (to smelt). Properly a Swe word.
smug (adj) Self-satisfied, pleased with oneself. Dan smuk (pretty, fine, fair), O Swe smuck (elegant, fair).
smuggle (vb) To import or export secretly and illegally. Dan smugle (to smuggle), smug-handel (contraband trade), Swe smuga (a lurking-hole), Ice smuga (a hole to creep through). Associated with Ice smjga (to creep, to creep through a hole).
sniff (vb, n) To scent. Ice snefja (to sniff) - a lost verb, whence snafr (sharp-scented), Dan snive (to sniff). Compare with Swe snyfta (to sob).
snivel (vb, n) Allied to sniff.
snob (n) Originally meant a vulgar person. In modern E, one who despises those he/she of as inferior, one who has an exaggerated respect for social status or wealth. Ice snpr (a dolt, with the notion of impostor, a boaster), Swe dialect snppa (to cut off, to make stumpy, in which sense it is allied to the E to snub = to ignore or 'cut dead').
snort (vb, n) To snore. Dan snorke (to snort), Swe snorka (to threaten - originally to fume, be angry).
snub (vb, n) To check, to reprimand. Dan snibbe (to reprimand), Swe snubba, Ice snubba (to sub, to chide). Originally 'to snip off' the end of something. Compare with Ice snubbttr (snubbed, nipped, with the tip cut off).
snuff (vb) To put a candle by snipping off the top of the wick May be allied to the original sense of snub, above.
snug (adj) Cosy, comfortable. Ice snggr (smooth - said of wool or hair. Compare with Yorkshire dialect snod = smooth, bald). O Swe snygg (short-haired, trimmed), Swe snygg (cleanly, neat, genteel), Dan sng, snk (neat, smart).
sound (vb) To measure the depth of something, especially of water. Ice, Swe and Dan sund (a strait, a narrow channel). In the same sense, 'to find out' or 'measure' as in 'sounding out their views'.
splash (vb, n) To dash water or other substance about. Swe plaska and Dan pladske (to splash), Swe dialect pltta (to trap, to pat). The initial /s/ in the E is for added emphasis.
split (vb, n) Dan splitte (to split), Swe dialect splitta (to disentangle or separate yarn).
spout (vb, n) To squirt out; to rush out of a pipe as a liquid. Scan. This word has lost an /r/ as it stands for sprout. The Swe sputa is occasionally used for spruta (to squirt), Dan sprude (to spout, to squirt).
sprawl (vb, n) The earlier meaning was 'to toss about the limbs', but in modern usage it describes a more passive action suggesting being spread about untidily, as in 'She was sprawled across the sofa'. Swe sprattla, dialectally spralla (to sprawl), Dan sprtta, sprlle (to sprawl, to flounder).
spry (adj) Lively, active. Swe dialect sprygg (very active, skittish). Allied to Swe dialect sprg, sprk (spirited, mettlesome).
squabble (vb, n) To wrangle. Swe dialect skvabble (a dispute).
squall (vb, n) To cry out. Swe sqvala (to gush out violently; a rush of water), Dan sqvaldre (to clamour). Allied to SE noun squall (a violent shower of rain).
squander (vb) To dissipate, to waste - especially of resources or money. Originally to disperse or scatter abroad. Dan sqvatte (to splash, squirt about; to squander), Ice skvetta (to squirt out).
squeak (vb, n) To cry out shrilly. Swe sqvka (to croak), Nor skvaka (to cackle), Ice skvakka (to sound like water shaken in a bottle).
squeal (vb, n) Similar to squeak. Swe sqvla, Nor skvella (to squeal). Usually applied in E to a continuous cry. Allied to squeak, above.
squeamish (adj) Easily upset, from Scan over-nice, easily upset. Ice sveimr ( bustle, a stir), allied to Ice svimi (a 'swimming' feeling in the head), Dan svimmel (giddiness, dizziness) and svime (fainting).
squint (vb, n) To look askew. Swe svinka (to shrink or flinch, hence the notion of looking aside), O Swe svinka (to beguile).
stale (adj) Of something which has been kept too long, especially food. Swe stalla (to put into a stable), Dan stalde (to stall-feed animals). From Swe stall and Dan stald (a stable, a stall). Stale is that which reminds one of a stable smell, tainted.
stagger (vb, n) To reel; to vacillate. Ice stakra (to push, to stagger). Allied to Ice stjaki (a punt pole for pushing and shoving).
stifle (vb) To gag, to put a stop to something or suppress something. Ice stfla (to dam up, to choke), Nor stivla (to stop, to hem in; literally, to stiffen), Dan stive (to stiffen).
stumble (vb) To almost fall. Ice stumra, Nor stumra (to stumble), Swe dialect stambla, stomla, stammra (to stumble, to falter). Allied to SE stammer (hesitant speech).
stutter (vb, n) To stammer, i.e., a speech impediment which is mainly shown by the involuntary repetition of the initial consonants in syllables. Ice stauta (to beat, to strike; also to stutter), Swe stta, Dan stde (to strike against).
swagger (vb, n) To sway from side to side. Allied to sway, below.
sway (vb, n) To swing, incline. Ice svegja (to bend aside), sveggja (to make to sway or swing), Swe dialect sviga (to bend), Swe svag (weak, pliant), Dan svaie (to sway, to swing).
swirl (vb, n) To whirl, as in an eddy. Nor svirla (to whirl around). Allied to SE swerve.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
talk (vb) The act of speaking. Scan and Lithuanian. In popular etymology this is connected with tale and tell, but wrongly. Swe tolka, Dan tolke, Ice tlka (to interpret, to explain, to plead).
taut (adj) Tight, under tension. Dan tt (tight). See tight, below.
teem (vb) To empty. Scan =>ME tom, toom. Ice tma, Dan tmme, Swe tma. The commonest use in E now is in relation to it raining heavily as in 'it is teeming down'. But in northern E dialects, especially Yorkshire, the original meaning is more closely preserved as in 'teem it down the sink'.
thrive (vb) To grow well. Ice rifa (to clutch, grasp, grip, seize) - hence 'to seize or make out for oneself' or 'to get on'.
thrum (vb) To play noisily. Ice ruma (to rattle, to thunder), Swe trumma (to beat, to drum), Dan tromme (a drum). Not associated with the E noun thrum.
thump (vb, n) Allied to Ice dumpa (to thump), Swe dialect dompa (to thump) and dumpa (to make a noise).
tight (adj) Close, compact. Properly thight, but as Swe and Dan put /t/ for /th/ it became tight. Ice ttr (tight, watertight), Swe tt (close, tight, solid, compact), Dan tt (tight, close, compact, watertight).
till To the time when. Scan => ME til, chiefly in the northern E dialects. Ice, Dan til, Swe till.
tip (vb) To tilt, generally as in the phrases 'to tip up' and 'to tip over'. Swe tippa (to tap, tip, strike gently, touch lightly), Ice tapsa (to tap).
tipple (vb) To drink habitually. Nor tipla (to tipple) from tippa (to drip from a tap or a point).
tipsy (adj) Slightly drunk. Scan. Probably associated with tipple, above.
trudge (vb) To march heavily. Possibly Scan. Perhaps originally to walk in heavy shows from Swe dialect truga, trudja (a snow-shoe). Compare Nor truga, Ice rga (a snow-shoe).
trust (vb, n) Firm belief in the reliability, truth, honesty, etc., of a person or thing. Ice traust (trust, protection, firmness), Dan and Swe trst (consolation). From the same base as true.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
ugly (adj) Frightful. Scan => ME ugly, uglike. Ice uggligr (fearful, dreadful) from Ice uggr (to fear).
ungainly (adj) Awkward. Scan with E suffix -ly.
until To the time when. Scan and Old Low German. See till.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
wag (vb) To wave back and forth. Scan => ME waggen. O Swe wagga, Swe vagga (to sway, to rock, to wave).
waggle (vb) To wag frequently. See wag.
wall-eyed (adj) With diseased eyes. Ice valdeygr (corruption of vagleygr = wall-eyed, said of a horse).
weak (adj) Not strong, lacking, deficient. The Scan form has ousted the ME wook. Ice veikr, Swe vek (weak), Dan veg (pliant).
wee (adj) Tiny. Scan ? More commonly found in Scottish and some northern E dialects than in SE.
welcome (vb, n) Put for 'well-come'. Ice velkommen, Swe vlkommen, Dan velcommen. The same meaning and construction as other Germanic forms, e.g. as in German and Dutch.
whelm (vb) To overturn, cover over by something that is turned over; to overwhelm, to submerge. Scan => ME whelmen (to turn a hollow vessel upside down; to turn over). O Swe hvalma (to turn and cock hay), Ice hvlf, hlf (a vault) and hvlfa (to turn upside down). Compare with Yorkshire dialect wemmle (to overbalance, overturn) and associated adj wemmly (wobbly, unsteady, liable to overturn).
whir (vb) To buzz. Scan. An imitative word like whiz. Dan hvirre (to whirl, twirl), Swe dialect hvirra (to whirl). Allied to whirl in SE.
whirl (vb, n) To rotate quickly, to throw about. Scan => ME whirlen. See whir. The noun form in modern usage is as in 'give it a whirl', i.e. 'to have a fling, to take on chance on trying something new', often in the sense of enjoyment.
whisk (vb) To move or sweep quickly. The /h/ is intrusive in E. It is properly wisk. Dan viske (to wipe, rub, sponge), Swe viska (to wipe; also to wag the tail), Ice visk (a wisp of hay - in the sense of something to wipe with).
wicker (adj) Made of pliable twigs, as in basketwork. E or Scan => ME wiker (a pliant twig). Dan dialect vegre (a pliant rod), Swe dialect vekare, vikker (willow) from Swe veka (to bend, ply).
 
- 14. august 2004 -