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Iceland Mag

Culture

Here's a list of English words that were adopted from Icelandic

By Staff

  • Geysir The English word geyser (a sprouting hot spring) derives from the Icelandic hot spring Geysir. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

BBC America published an interesting article about 10 English words that were adopted from Icelandic and the other Norse languages.
According to the article, Nordic Vikings not only raided the British isles, they also left behind pieces of their native languages.

The listed words include: Ransack (from the word rannsaka, which mean to search a house), window (from the now defunct word vindauga), slaughter (comes from the Norse word slátra), aloft (loft is the Norse word for the sky, heaven and a loft, while á means on. So bearing something aloft means to carry them up to heaven), husband (from the word húsbóndi), blunder (the word blundra means to shut your eyes and, therefore, to walk around banging into things), happy (happ means good fortune or fate), heathen (The Vikings called those people who lived on heathland or open country heiðinn), scales (as in weighing scales – comes from the word skál, meaning bowl or drinking cup), yule, (from the word jól, or jul).

Here at Iceland Magazine we‘ve added a few more words to the list:

Saga
From the Icelandic word saga, meaning story or tale.

Berserk
To go berserk means to become frenziedly violent or destructive. The word is coined from the words björn (bear) and serkur (shirt). Berserkir were Norse warriors who worked themselves into a frenzy before battle and fought with insane fury and courage.

Read more: 10 words and phrases in Icelandic that don’t exist in English

Geysir
The English word geyser (a sprouting hot spring) derives from the Icelandic hot spring Geysir. The name derives from the Icelandic verb geysa, to gush.

Jökulhlaup
A jökulhlaup, literally meaning glacier run, is a type of glacial outburst flood. It is an Icelandic term that has been adopted in English-language glaciological terminology.

Fellow
The word fellow is derived from the Icelandic word félagi (partner or colleague).

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