This text includes characters that require UTF-8 (Unicode) file encoding:

Ȝ ȝ (yogh)
œ ǽ (oe ligature, æ with accent)
āēīōū (letters with macron or “long” mark)
ăĕĭŏŭ (letters with breve or “short” mark)
ἄβυσσος, μοναχός (Greek)

Yogh is used in dictionary headwords; the others occur only in etymologies.

If any of these characters do not display properly—in particular, if the diacritic does not appear directly above the letter—or if the apostrophes and quotation marks in this paragraph appear as garbage, you may have an incompatible browser or unavailable fonts. First, make sure that the browser’s “character set” or “file encoding” is set to Unicode (UTF-8). You may also need to change your browser’s default font. All Greek words have mouse-hover transliterations.

For general information on using the Dictionary, and an explanation of the different types of underlining, see the Transcriber’s Notes at the end of this file. In the body of the Dictionary, italics and boldface are as in the original.


List of Sources

Additions and Corrections

Transcriber’s Notes

Dictionary (separate files): A-F; G-Q; R-Ȝ









Oxford University Press Warehouse
Amen Corner, E.C.






FROM A.D. 1150 TO 1580








These our Ancient Words here set down, I trust will for this time satisfie the Reader.”
R. Verstegan, Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, ch. vii (at the end)
“Authentic words be given, or none!”
Wordsworth, Lines on Macpherson’s Ossian


[All rights reserved]


(By Professor Skeat.)

The present work is intended to meet, in some measure, the requirements of those who wish to make some study of Middle-English, and who find a difficulty in obtaining such assistance as will enable them to find out the meanings and etymologies of the words most essential to their purpose.

The best Middle-English Dictionary, that by Dr. Mätzner of Berlin, has only reached the end of the letter H; and it is probable that it will not be completed for many years. The only Middle-English Dictionary that has been carried on to the end of the alphabet is that by the late Dr. Stratmann, of Krefeld. This is a valuable work, and is indispensable for the more advanced student. However, the present work will still supply a deficiency, as it differs from Stratmann’s Dictionary in many particulars. We have chosen as our Main Words, where possible, the most typical of the forms or spellings of the period of Chaucer and Piers Plowman; in Stratmann, on the other hand, the form chosen as Main Word is generally the oldest form in which it appears, frequently one of the twelfth century. Moreover, with regard to authorities, we refer in the case of the great majority of our forms to a few, cheap, easily accessible works, whereas Stratmann’s authorities are mainly the numerous and expensive publications of the Early English Text Society. Lastly, we have paid special attention to the French element in Middle-English, whereas Stratmann is somewhat deficient in respect of words of French origin1. The book which has generally been found of most assistance to the learner is probably Halliwell’s Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words; but this is not specially confined to the Middle-English period, and the plan of it differs in several respects from that of the present work.

The scope of this volume will be best understood by an explanation of vi the circumstances that gave rise to it. Some useful and comparatively inexpensive volumes illustrative of the Middle-English period have been issued by the Clarendon Press; all of which are furnished with glossaries, explaining all the important words, with exact references to the passages wherein the words occur. In particular, the three useful hand-books containing Specimens of English (from 1150 down to 1580) together supply no less than sixty-seven characteristic extracts from the most important literary monuments of this period; and the three glossaries to these books together fill more than 370 pages of closely-printed type in double columns. The idea suggested itself that it would be highly desirable to bring the very useful information thus already collected under one alphabet, and this has now been effected. At the same time, a reference has in every case been carefully given to the particular Glossarial Index which registers each form here cited, so that it is perfectly easy for any one who consults our book to refer, not merely to the particular Index thus noted, but to the references given in that Index; and so, by means of such references, to find every passage referred to, with its proper context. Moreover the student only requires, for this purpose, a small array of the text-books in the Clarendon Press Series, instead of a more or less complete set of editions of Middle-English texts, the possession of which necessitates a considerable outlay of money. By this plan, so great a compression of information has been achieved, that a large number of the articles give a summary such as can be readily expanded to a considerable length, by the exercise of a very little trouble; and thus the work is practically as full of material as if it had been three or four times its present size. A couple of examples will shew what this really means.

At p. 26 is the following entry:—

Bi-heste, sb. promise, S, S2, C2, P; byheste, S2; beheste, S2; byhest, S2; bihese, S; biheest, W; bihese, pl., S.—AS. be-hǽs.’

By referring to the respective indexes here cited, such as S (= Glossary to Specimens of English, Part I), and the like, we easily expand this article into the following:—

Bi-heste, sb. promise, S (9. 19); S2 (1a. 184); C2 (B 37, 41, 42, F 698); P (3. 126); byheste, S2 (18b. 25); beheste, S2 (14a. 3); byhest, S2 (12. 57, 18b. 9, [where it may also be explained by grant]); bihese, S (where it is used as a plural); biheest, W (promise, command, Lk. xxiv. 49, Rom. iv. 13; pl. biheestis, Heb. xi. 13); bihese, S (pl. behests, promises, 4d. 55).—AS. behǽs.’

In order to exhibit the full meaning of this—which requires no further vii explanation to those who have in hand the books denoted by S, S2, &c.—it would be necessary to print the article at considerable length, as follows:—

Biheste, sb. promise; “dusi biheste” a foolish promise, (extract from) Ancren Riwle, l. 19; “and wel lute wule hulde þe biheste þat he nom,” (extract from) Robert of Gloucester, l. 184; “holdeth your biheste,” Chaucer, Introd. to Man of Law’s Prologue, l. 37; “biheste is dette,” same, l. 41; “al my biheste” same, l. 42; “or breken his biheste” Chaucer, sequel to Squieres Tale, l. 698; “þorw fals biheste,” Piers Plowman, Text B, Pass. iii, l. 126; “to vol-vulle (fulfil) þat byheste” Trevisa (extract from), lib. vi. cap. 29, l. 25; “the lond of promyssioun, or of beheste,” Prol. to Mandeville’s Travels, l. 3; “wiþ fair by-hest,” William and the Werwolf, l. 57; “þe byhest (promise, or grant) of oþere menne kyngdom,” Trevisa, lib. vi. cap. 29, l. 9; “y schal sende the biheest of my fadir in-to ȝou,” Wyclif, Luke xxiv. 49; “not bi the lawe is biheest to Abraham,” Wycl. Rom. iv. 13; “whanne the biheestis weren not takun,” Wycl. Heb. xi. 13; “longenge to godes bihese” Old Eng. Homilies, Dominica iv. post Pascha, l. 55.’

We thus obtain fifteen excellent examples of the use of this word, with the full context and an exact reference (easily verified) in every case. And, in the above instance, all the quotations lie within the compass of the eleven texts in the Clarendon Press Series denoted, respectively, by S, S2, S3, C, C2, C3, W, W2, P, H, and G.

The original design was to make use of these text-books only; but it was so easy to extend it by including examples to be obtained from other Glossaries and Dictionaries, that a considerable selection of interesting words was added from these, mainly for the sake of illustrating the words in the Clarendon text-books. These illustrative words can be fully or partially verified by those who happen to possess all or some of the works cited, or they can safely be taken on trust, as really occurring there, any mistake being due to such authority.

A second example will make this clearer. ‘Brant, adj. steep, high, MD, HD; brent, JD; brentest, superl. S2.—AS. brant (bront); cp. Swed. brant, Icel. brattr.’

Omitting the etymology, the above information is given in two short lines. Those who possess the ‘Specimens of English’ will easily find the example of the superl. brentest. By consulting Mätzner’s, Halliwell’s, and Jamieson’s Dictionaries, further information can be obtained, and the full article will appear as follows:—

Brant, adj. steep, high, MD [brant, brent, adj. ags. brand, arduus, viii altus, altn. brattr, altschw. branter, schw. brant, bratt, dän, brat, sch. brent, nordengl. Diall. brant: cf. “brant, steepe,” Manipulus Vocabulorum, p. 25: steil, hoch.—“Apon the bald Bucifelon brant up he sittes,” King Alexander, ed. Stevenson, p. 124; “Thir mountaynes ware als brant upritȝe as thay had bene walles,” MS. quoted in Halliwell’s Dict., p. 206; “Hyȝe bonkkes & brent,” Gawain and the Grene Knight, l. 2165; “Bowed to þe hyȝ bonk þer brentest hit wern,” Alliterative Poems, ed. Morris, Poem B, l. 379]; HD [brant, steep. North: “Brant against Flodden Hill,” explained by Nares from Ascham, “up the steep side;” cf. Brit. Bibl. i. 132, same as brandly?—“And thane thay com tille wonder heghe mountaynes, and it semed as the toppes had towched the firmament; and thir mountaynes were als brant upriȝte as thay had bene walles, so that ther was na clymbyng upon thame,” Life of Alexander, MS. Lincoln, fol. 38]; JD [brent, adj. high, straight, upright; “My bak, that sumtyme brent hes bene, Now cruikis lyk are camok tre,” Maitland Poems, p. 193; followed by a discussion extending to more than 160 lines of small print, which we forbear to quote]; brentest, superl. S2. 13. 379 [“And bowed to þe hyȝ bonk þer brentest hit were (MS. wern),” Allit. Poems, l. 379; already cited in Mätzner, above].’

The work, in fact, contains a very large collection of words, in many variant forms, appearing in English literature and in Glossaries between A.D. 1150 and A.D. 1580. The glossaries in S2, S3 (Specimens of English, 1298-1393, and 1394-1579) have furnished a considerable number of words belonging to the Scottish dialect, which most dictionaries (excepting of course that of Jamieson) omit.

The words are so arranged that even the beginner will, in general, easily find what he wants. We have included in one article, together with the Main Word, all the variant spellings of the glossaries, as well as the etymological information. We have also given in alphabetical order numerous cross-references to facilitate the finding of most of the variant forms, and to connect them with the Main Word. In this way, the arrangement is at once etymological and alphabetical—adapted to the needs of the student of the language and of the student of the literature.

The meanings of the words are given in modern English, directly after the Main Word. The variant forms, as given in their alphabetical position, are frequently also explained, thus saving (in such cases) the trouble of a cross-reference, if the meaning of the word is alone required.

An attempt is made in most cases to give the etymology, so far at least as to shew the immediate source of the Middle-English word. Especial pains have been taken with the words of French origin, which ix form so large a portion of the vocabulary of the Middle-English period. In many cases the AF (Anglo-French) forms are cited, from my list of English Words found in Anglo-French, as published for the Philological Society in 1882.

The student of English who wishes to trace back the history of a word still in use can, in general, find the Middle-English form in Skeat’s Etymological Dictionary, and will then be able to consult the present work in order to obtain further instances of its early use.

The relative share of the authors in the preparation of this work is easily explained. The whole of it in its present form (with the exception of the letter N) was compiled, prepared, and written out for press by Mr. Mayhew. The original plan was, however, my own; and I began by writing out the letter N (since augmented) by way of experiment and model. It will thus be seen that Mr. Mayhew’s share of the work has been incomparably the larger, involving all that is most laborious. On the other hand, I may claim that much of the labour was mine also, at a much earlier stage, as having originally compiled or revised the glossaries marked S2, S3, C2, C3, W, W2, P, and G, as well as the very full glossarial indexes cited as B, PP, and WA, and the dictionary cited as SkD. The important glossary marked S was, however, originally the work of Dr. Morris (since re-written by Mr. Mayhew), and may, in a sense, be said to be the back-bone of the whole, from its supplying a very large number of the most curious and important early forms.

The material used has been carefully revised by both authors, so that they must be held to be jointly responsible for the final form in which the whole is now offered to the public.

1. A new and thoroughly revised edition of Stratmann’s Dictionary is being prepared by Mr. Henry Bradley, for the Delegates of the Clarendon Press.

Note On The Phonology Of Middle-English.

One great difficulty in finding a Middle-English word in this, or any other, Dictionary is due to the frequent variation of the symbols denoting the vowel-sounds. Throughout the whole of the period to which the work relates the symbols i and y, in particular, are constantly interchanged, whether they stand alone, or form parts of diphthongs. Consequently, words which are spelt with one of these symbols in a given text must frequently be looked for as if spelt with the other; i.e. the pairs of symbols i and y, ai and ay, ei and ey, oi and oy, ui and uy, must be looked upon as likely to be used indifferently, one for the other. For further information, the student should consult the remarks upon Phonology in the Specimens of English (1150 to 1300), 2nd ed., p. xxv. For those who x have not time or opportunity to do this, a few brief notes may perhaps suffice.

The following symbols are frequently confused, or are employed as equivalent to each other because they result from the same sound in the Oldest English or in Anglo-French:—

i, y;—ai, ay;—ei, ey;—oi, oy;—ui, uy.

a, o;—a, æ, e, ea;—e, eo, ie;—o, u, ou;—(all originally short).

a, æ, ea, e, ee;—e, ee, eo, ie;—o, oo, oa;—u, ou, ui;—(all long).

These are the most usual interchanges of symbols, and will commonly suffice for practical purposes, in cases where the cross-references fail. If the word be not found after such substitutions have been allowed for, it may be taken for granted that the Dictionary does not contain it. As a fact, the Dictionary only contains a considerable number of such words as are most common, or (for some special reason) deserve notice; and it is at once conceded that it is but a small hand-book, which does not pretend to exhibit in all its fulness the extraordinarily copious vocabulary of our language at an important period of its history. The student wishing for complete information will find (in course of time) that the New English Dictionary which is being brought out by the Clarendon Press will contain all words found in our literature since the year 1100.

Of course variations in the vowel-sounds are also introduced, in the case of strong verbs, by the usual ‘gradation’ due to their method of conjugation. To meet this difficulty in some measure, numerous (but not exhaustive) cross-references have been introduced, as when, e.g. ‘Bar, bare’ is given, with a cross-reference to Beren. Further help in this respect is to be had from the table of 183 strong verbs given at pp. lxix-lxxxi of the Preface to Part I of the Specimens of English (2nd edition); see, in particular, the alphabetical index to the same, at pp. lxxxi, lxxxii. The same Preface further contains some account of the three principal Middle-English dialects (p. xl), and Outlines of the Grammar (p. xlv). It also explains the meaning of the symbols þ, ð (both used for th), ȝ (used for y initially, gh medially, and gh or z finally), with other necessary information.


The Clarendon Press Glossaries.

This work gives all the words and every form contained in the glossaries to eleven publications in the Clarendon Press Series, as below:—

S.—Specimens of Early English, ed. Morris, Part I: from A.D. 1150 to A.D. 1300.

This book contains extracts from:—1. Old English Homilies, ed. Morris, E.E.T.S. 1867-8, pp. 230-241; 2. The Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 1137, 1138, 1140, 1154; 3. Old Eng. Homilies, ed. Morris, First Series, pp. 40-53; 4. The same, Second Series, pp. 89-109; 5. The Ormulum, ed. White, ll. 962-1719, pp. 31-57; 6. Layamon’s Brut, ed. Madden, ll. 13785-14387 [add 13784 to the number of the line in the reference]; 7. Sawles Warde, from Old Eng. Homilies, ed. Morris, First Series, pp. 245-249, 259-267; 8. St. Juliana, ed. Cockayne and Brock; 9. The Ancren Riwle, ed. Morton, pp. 208-216, 416-430; 10. The Wooing of our Lord, from Old Eng. Homilies, ed. Morris, First Series, pp. 277-283; 11. A Good Orison of our Lady, from the same, pp. 191-199; 12. A Bestiary, the Lion, Eagle, and Ant, from An Old Eng. Miscellany, ed. Morris; 13. Old Kentish Sermons, from the same, pp. 26-36; 14. Proverbs of Alfred, from the same, pp. 102-130; 15. Version of Genesis and Exodus, ed. Morris, ll.1907-2536; 16. Owl and Nightingale, from An Old Eng. Miscellany, ed. Morris, ll. 1-94, 139-232, 253-282, 303-352, 391-446, 549-555, 598-623, 659-750, 837-855, 905-920, 1635-1682, 1699-1794; 17. A Moral Ode (two copies), from An Old Eng. Miscellany and Old Eng. Homilies, 2nd Series, ed. Morris; 18. Havelok the Dane, ed. Skeat, ll. 339-748; 19. King Horn (in full).

S2.—Specimens of English, Part II, ed. Morris and Skeat; from A.D. 1298-1393.

This book contains extracts from:—1. Robert of Gloucester’s Chronicle (William the Conqueror and St. Dunstan); 2. Metrical Psalter, Psalms 8, 14(15), 17(18), 23(24), 102(103), 103(104); 3. The Proverbs of Hendyng; 4. Specimens of Lyric Poetry, ed. Wright (Alysoun, Plea for Pity, Parable of the Labourers, Spring-time); 5. Robert Mannyng’s Handlynge Synne, ll. 5575-5946; 6. William of Shoreham, De Baptismo; 7. Cursor Mundi, ed. Morris, ll. 11373-11791 [add 11372 to the number in the reference]; 8. Eng. Metrical Homilies, ed. Small (Second Sunday in Advent, Third Sunday after the Octave of Epiphany); 9. The Ayenbite of Inwyt, ed. Morris, pp. 263-9, and p. 262; 10. Hampole’s Prick of Conscience, ll. 432-9, 464-509, 528-555, 662-707, 728-829, 1211-1292, 1412-1473, 1818-29, 1836-51, 1884-1929, 2216-2233, 2300-11, 2334-55, 2364-73, 7813-24; 11. Minot’s Songs, Nos. 3, 4, 7; 12. William of Palerne, ed. Skeat, ll. 3-381; 13. Alliterative Poems, ed. Morris, Poem B, ll. 235-544, 947-972, 1009-1051; 14. Mandeville’s Travels, Prologue, part of Chap. 12, and Chap. 26; 15. Piers the Plowman, A-text, Prologue, Passus 1, part of Pass. 2, Pass. 3, Pass. 5, parts of Pass. 6 and 7; 16. Barbour’s Bruce, ed. Skeat, Book VII. ll. 1-230, 400-487; 17. Wyclif’s translation of St. Mark’s Gospel, Chapters 1-6; xii Hereford’s version of the Psalms, Ps. 14(15), 23(24), 102(103); 18. Trevisa’s translation of Higden’s Polychronicon, lib. i. c. 41, c. 59, lib. vi. c. 29; 19. Chaucer, Man of Law’s Tale; 20. Gower’s Confessio Amantis, part of Book V.

S3.—Specimens of English, Part III, ed. Skeat; from A.D. 1394-1579.

This book contains extracts from:—1. Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, ll. 153-267, 339-565, 744-765, 785-823; 2. Hoccleve’s De Regimine Principum, stanzas 281-301, 598-628; 3. Lydgate, London Lickpenny, and the Storie of Thebes, bk. ii. ll. 1064-1419; 4. James I (of Scotland), the King’s Quair, stanzas 152-173; 5. Pecock’s Represser, pt. i. c. 19; pt. ii. c. 11; 6. Blind Harry’s Wallace, bk. i. ll. 181-448; 7. Chevy Chase (earlier version); 8. Malory’s Morte Darthur, bk. xxi. c. 3-7; 9. Caxton’s History of Troy; 10. The Nut-brown Maid; 11. Dunbar, Thistle and Rose, and Poem on being desired to be a Friar; 12. Hawes, Pastime of Pleasure, c. 33; 13. G. Douglas, Prol. to Æneid, book xii; 14. Skelton, Why Come Ye Nat to Courte, ll. 287-382, 396-756; Philip Sparrow, ll. 998-1260; 15. Lord Berners, tr. of Froissart, c. 50, c. 130; 16. Tyndale, Obedience of a Christian Man; 17. More, Dialogue Concerning Heresies, bk. iii. c. 14-16; Confutation of Tyndale, bk. iii; 18. Sir T. Elyot, The Governor, bk. i. c. 17, 18; 19. Lord Surrey, tr. of Æneid, bk. ii. ll. 253-382, 570-736, and minor poems; 20. Sir T. Wiat, Three Satires, and minor poems; 21. Latimer, Sermon on the Ploughers; 22. Sir D. Lyndesay, The Monarchy, bk. iii. ll. 4499-4612, 4663-94, 4709-38; bk. iv. ll. 5450-5639; 23. N. Udall, Ralph Roister Doister, Act iii. sc. 3-5; 24. Lord Buckhurst, The Induction; 25. Ascham, The Schoolmaster, bk. i; 26. Gascoigne, The Steel Glas, ll. 418-470, 628-638, 750-893, 1010-1179; 27. Lyly, Euphues and his Ephœbus; 28. Spenser, Shepherd’s Calendar, November, December.

The remaining eight publications in the Clarendon Press Series which have also been indexed are those marked C, C2, C3, W, W2, P, H, and G; i.e. three books containing extracts from Chaucer, two books containing parts of Wyclif’s Bible, part of Piers Plowman, Hampole’s Psalter, and Gamelyn; the full titles of which are given below.

We also give all the important words occurring in CM (Chaucer, ed. Morris); and in addition to this, and for the purpose of illustration, forms are given from various texts and Dictionaries, and from the Glossaries to B (Bruce), PP (Piers Plowman), and WA (Wars of Alexander).

Walter W. Skeat.




Note.—The abbreviations referring to the authorities for the forms of English words (A.D. 1150-1580) are printed in italics. (CP = Clarendon Press.)

1. Alph.: Alphita, a Medico-Botanical Glossary, ed. Mowat, 1887. CP.

2. Anglo-Saxon Gospels, in AS. and Northumbrian Versions, ed. Skeat.

3. Apfelstedt: Lothringischer Psalter (des XIV Jahrhunderts), 1881.

4. B: Barbour’s Bruce, ed. Skeat, 1870, EETS. (Extra Series xi).

5. Bardsley: English Surnames, 1875.

6. Bartsch: Chrestomathie de l’ancien français (glossaire), 1880.

6*. BH: Bartsch and Horning, Langue et Littérature françaises, 1887.

7. Bosworth: Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, 1838.

8. Brachet: French Dict., 1882. CP.

9. Brugmann: Grundriss, 1886.

10. BT.: Bosworth-Toller AS. Dict. [A-SAR]. CP.

11. C: Chaucer; Prol., Knight’s Tale, Nun’s Priest’s Tale. CP.

12. C2: Chaucer; Prioress, Sir Thopas, Monk, Clerk, Squire. CP.

13. C3: Chaucer; Man of Law, Pardoner, Second Nun, Canon’s Yeoman. CP.

14. Cath.: Catholicon Anglicum (A.D. 1483), ed. Herrtage, 1881. EETS (75).

15. Chron.: Two Saxon Chronicles, ed. Earle, 1865. CP.

16. CM: Chaucer, ed. Morris, 1880.

17. Constans: Chrestomathie de l’ancien français (glossaire), 1884.

18. Cotg.: Cotgrave, French and English Dict., 1611.

19. Curtius: Greek Etymology, ed. Wilkins and England, 1886.

20. CV: Icelandic Dictionary, Cleasby and Vigfusson, 1874. CP.

21. DG: Davies, Supplementary English Glossary, 1881.

22. Diez: Etymologisches Wörterbuch, 1878.

23. Douse: Introduction to the Gothic of Ulfilas, 1886.

24. Ducange: Glossarium, ed. Henschel, 1883-7.

24*. Ducange: Glossaire Français, ed. 1887.

25. EDS: English Dialect Society.

26. EETS: Early English Text Society.

27. Fick: Wörterbuch der indogermanischen Sprachen, 1874.

28. Florio: Italian and English Dict., 1611.

29. G: Tale of Gamelyn, ed. Skeat, 1884. CP.

30. Godefroy: Dictionnaire de l’ancienne langue française [A-LIS].

31. Grein: Glossar der angelsächsischen Poesie, 1861.

32. Grimm: Teutonic Mythology, ed. Stallybrass, 1883.

33. H: Hampole, Psalter, ed. Bramley, 1884. CP.

34. HD: Halliwell, Dict. of Archaic and Provincial Words, 1874.

35. Heliand, ed. Heyne, 1873.

36. JD: Jamieson, Scottish Dictionary, 1867.

37. Kluge: etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, 1883.

38. Leo: angelsächsisches Glossar, 1877.

39. Manip.: Manipulus Vocabulorum, Levins, ed. Wheatley, EETS, 1867.

xiv 40. MD: Mätzner, altenglisches Wörterbuch [A-H], 1885.

41. Minsheu: Spanish and English Dict., 1623.

42. ND: Nares, Glossary, 1876.

43. NED: New English Dictionary, ed. Murray [A-BOZ]. CP.

44. NQ: Notes and Queries.

45. OET: Oldest English Texts, ed. Sweet, 1885, EETS (83).

45*. ONE: Oliphant, The New English, 1886.

46. Otfrid: Evangelienbuch, glossar, ed. Piper, 1884.

47. P: Piers the Plowman (B-text), ed. Skeat. CP.

48. Palsg.: Palsgrave, Lesclaircissement de langue francoyse, ed. 1852.

49. PP: Piers the Plowman, glossary by Skeat, 1885, EETS (81).

50. PP. Notes: by Skeat, 1877, EETS (67).

51. Prompt.: Promptorium Parvulorum, ed. Way, Camden Soc., 1865.

52. Ps.: (after French forms), see Apfelstedt.

53. RD: Richardson’s English Dictionary, 1867.

54. Roland: Chanson de Roland, ed. Gautier, 1881.

55. S: Specimens of Early English, Part I, ed. Morris, 1885. CP.

56. S2: Specimens of Early English, Part II, ed. Morris and Skeat, 1873. CP.

57. S3: Specimens of English Literature, ed. Skeat, 1879. CP.

58. SB: Sinonoma Bartholomei, 14th Cent. Glossary, ed. Mowat, 1882. CP.

59. Schmid: Gesetze der Angelsachsen (glossar), 1858.

60. SD: Stratmann, Dict. of the Old English Language, 1878.

61. Sh.: Shakespeare Lexicon, by Schmidt, 1875.

62. Sievers: Grammar of Old English, ed. A. S. Cook, 1885.

63. SkD: Skeat, Etymological Dict. of Eng. Lang., 1884. CP.

64. Skeat, English Words in Norman-French, 1882, Phil. Soc.

65. Skeat, Mœso-gothic Glossary, 1868.

66. SPD: Smythe Palmer, Dictionary of Folk-Etymology, 1882.

67. Spenser: Faery Queene, glossaries to Books I and II, 1887. CP.

68. Sweet: AS. Reader, 1884. CP.

69. Tatian: Evangelienbuch, ed. Sievers, 1872.

70. TG: Trench, Select Glossary, 1879.

71. Trevisa: version of Higden, Rolls’ Series (41).

72. Voc.: Wright’s Vocabularies, ed. Wülcker, 1884.

73. VP: Vespasian Psalter, as printed in OET., see 45.

74. Vulg.: the Vulgate Version of the Bible.

75. W: Wycliffe, New Testament (Purvey’s revision), ed. Skeat, 1879. CP.

76. W2: Wycliffe, Job, Psalms, &c. (revised by Hereford and Purvey), ed. Skeat, 1881. CP.

77. WA: Wars of Alexander, ed. Skeat, 1887, EETS (Extra Series xlvii).

78. Weigand: deutsches Wörterbuch, 1878.

79. Windisch: Glossary added to Old Irish Texts, 1882.

80. WW: Wright, The Bible Word-Book, 1884.

81. ZRP: Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, ed. Gröber.




AF: Anglo-French, see 64.

AS.: Anglo-Saxon, see 10, 31, 45, 62.

Church Lat.: Ecclesiastical Latin, see 24, 74.

Goth.: Gothic, see 23, 65.

Gr.: Greek, see 9, 19, 27.

Icel.: Icelandic, see 20.

It.: Italian, see 28.

Lat.: Latin.

Late Lat.: Post-classical Latin, of Latin origin, see 24, 72, 74.

Low Lat.: Latin derived from the later European languages, see 1, 14, 24, 51, 58.

ME.: Middle English.

North.E.: Northern English, see 4, 36.

OF.: Old French, see 3, 6, 17, 18, 22, 24, 30, 48, 54.

OHG.: Old High German, see 37, 46, 69, 78.

OIr.: Old Irish, see 19, 79.

OMerc.: Old Mercian, see 2 (Rushworth version), 45, 73.

ONorth.: Old Northumbrian, see 2.

OS.: Old Saxon, see 35.

OTeut.: Old Teutonic (as restored by scholars), see 27, 43.

Sp.: Spanish, see 41.


In the etymological part three stops are used as symbols in connexion with the cognate forms cited, namely the comma, the semi-colon, and the colon. The comma is used to connect various spellings of a word, as well as parallel forms cited from nearly connected languages; for instance, s.v. daunger, the OF. forms are so connected. The semi-colon between two forms denotes that the two forms are phonetically equivalent, and that the preceding one is directly derived from, and is historically connected with the one following this symbol; for instance, s.v. bugle, the OF. bugle is the phonetic equivalent of the Lat. buculum, and is immediately derived therefrom. The colon between two forms denotes that the two forms are phonetically equivalent, and that the form following this symbol is an earlier, more primitive form than the one preceding, without an immediate interborrowing between the languages being asserted; for instance, s.v. demen, the Goth. dómjan is an older form than the AS. déman, but déman is not borrowed from the Gothic. The abbreviation ‘cp.’ introduces other cognate forms, and has the same value as the symbol + in Skeat’s Dictionaries.

The asterisk * at the beginning of a word denotes a theoretical form, assumed (upon scientific principles) to have formerly existed. The sign = is to be read ‘a translation of.’ ‘(n)’ after Prompt., Cath. and other authorities refers to foot-notes or other notes citing the form in question.



This section, originally printed at the end of the book, is included for completeness. All changes have been made in the text. Corrections are marked with mouse-hover popups, while additions are shown as outlined paragraphs.

A, prep. of, S2, S3, PP; see Of.

A, adv. ever, S; aa, S; a buten, ever without, S; see O.

Accompt, sb. account, S3; see Acounte.

Accompted, pp. accounted, S3; see Acounte.

Ace, sb. a jot, S3; see As.

Addledd, pp. earned, S; see Adlen.

Æn, num. and indef. art. one, S; ænne, S; see Oon.

Æness, adv. once, S; see Oones.

Afingret, pp. an-hungered, NED, HD; see Of-hungred.

Afyrst, pp. athirst, PP; afurst, PP; afrust, PP; see Of-þurst.

Agreþed, pp. made ready, S2; see A-graythen.

Ah, pr. s. owes (as a duty), S; ahen, pr. pl., are obliged, S; see Owen.

Aht, sb. aught, anything; ahte, S; ahct, S; see Ought.

Ak, sb. oak, Voc.; akis, pl., S3; see Ook.

Akennet, pp. born, S; see A-cennen.

Almain. For almain-lean read almain-leap.

Anaunter, for an aunter, a chance, S2; see Auenture.

Ande, sb. breath, H; see Onde.

Anfald, adj. single, simple, S, HD; see Oone-fold.

Anhed, sb. unity, H; see Oonhed.

Anleth. For v. read sb.

Anwalde, sb. dat. power, S; anwolde, S; see On-wald.

Are, sb. oar, MD; see Ore.

Athamaunte, sb. adamant, C; see Adamant.

Atteir, sb. attire, S3; see Atyre.

Aual, imp. s. fell, cause to fall, S; see A-fallen.

Auhte, pt. s. ought, S; aucte, owned, S; see Owen.

Auote, adv. on foot, S2; see A-fote.

Autorite, sb. authority, C; see Auctoritee.

Autour, sb. author, S3; see Auctour.

Aw-; see Au-.

Aynd, sb. breath, B; see Onde.

Aynding, sb. smelling, B; see Onding.

Ayr, sb. oar, B; see Ore.

Belde, adj. big, blustering, S; see Bold.

Belt, pp. built, S3; see Bilden.

Beode, v. to pray, S; see Bidden.

Bersten, v. to burst, S, C; see Bresten.

Betaken, v. to betoken, S2; see Bi-toknen.

Bi-healde, v. to behold; bihalden, S2; see Bi-holden.

Bilæde, pt. s. enclosed, S; see Bi-leggen.

Bilæuen, v. to remain, S; see Bi-leuen.

Billet, sb. a piece of firewood; byllets, pl., S3 (26. 785).

Binam, Binom; pt. s. of Bi-nimen.

Bi-soȝte, pt. s. of Bi-sechen.

Bituhhe, prep. between, S; see Bi-twiȝe.

Blane (for blan), pt. s. of Bi-linnen.

Blynke. For sie read see.

Bod, pt. s. waited, S2; bode, waited for, S2; see Biden.

Bounden, pp. bound, S, C2; see Binden.

Breas, sb. brass, S; see Bras.

Breggid, pt. s. shortened, W; see Abregge.

Bulde, pt. s. built, C; see Bilden.

Bye, v. to buy, S2; by, C3; see Biggen.

Camel. The regular OF. equivalent for Lat. camēlum was chameil. In OF. camel the termination -el is due to analogy with French forms derived from -ālem. See BH, § 43.

Canoun. Church Lat. canonicus did 271 not mean originally ‘one on the church-roll or list,’ but one who was bound to observe a certain rule of life (canon, κανών). OF. chanoine is not the precise equivalent of canonicum, but represents a Latin type *canonium. See Scheler’s Dict. (ed. 3).

Cherche, sb. church, S2, C3; see Chirche.

Clomben, pp. climbed, C; see Climben.

Daw, sb. day, S2; see Day.

Deburs, v. disburse, pay, S3; see Disburse.

Dedeyn, sb. disdain, W, H; see Disdeyn.

Degyset, pp. disguised, S2; see Disgysen.

Deserited. For Desheriten, read Disheriten.

Dide, pt. s. did, caused, put, S; see Don.

Dilitable, adj. delightful, S2; see Delitable.

Diuise, v. to tell of, describe, S2; see Deuisen.

Druiȝest, 2 pr. s. art dry, S2; see Drye.

Dunt, sb. blow, S, S2; see Dent.

Effnenn, v. to make equal or even, S; see Euenen.

Ernes. A derivation of this word from the French has not been proved.—OF. ernes does not exist.

Falten. The form falt should be taken away from this article and placed under Folden. The words falt mi tunge mean ‘my tongue gives way.’ For the various meanings of this verb folden, see MD (ii. 68). This correction is due to the kindness of Prof. Napier.

For-swinken, v. to exhaust with toil; forswonke, pp., S3 (p. 364, l. 24).

Frayd, pp. frightened, S3; fraid, scared, S3; see Afrayen.

Habide, v. to abide, resist, S2; see A-biden.

Hagt. Dr. F. Holthausen suggests that this word means ‘danger, peril,’ comparing this ME. hagt with Icel. hætta which has the same meaning. Kluge connects this hætta with Gothic hāhan, to hang, so that it may mean radically ‘a state of being in suspense.’ The word must have come into England in the form *haht, before the assimilation of ht to tt.

Hal, adj. all, S2; see Al.

Ham, 1 pr. s. am, S; see Am.

Haxede, pt. s. asked, S; see Asken.

Here, adv. before, S; see Er.

Heremyte, sb. hermit, S2; heremites, pl., P; see Ermite.

Hulpen. (To be placed more to the right.)

Ich, adj. each, S, S2; see Eche.

Ieden, pt. pl. went, S; see Eode.

Joutes. For jutā read jūta. For other cognates of this wide-spread word, see Kluge (s.v. jauche). See also s.v. käse, where Kluge remarks that Icel. ostr, cheese, and Finnish juusto, cheese, are etymologically connected with G. jauche, and Latin jus.

Kepen. AS. cépan, to keep, should be kept quite distinct from AS. cýpan, to sell. AS. cýpan is the phonetic representative of OTeut. kaupjan, whereas cépan, to keep, represents an OTeut. *kōpjan. Cp. E. keen, the representative of AS. céne, OTeut. *kōni (G. kühn). See Kluge’s note in P. & B. Beiträge, viii. 538.

Mo. Add ) at the end.

Note, sb. nut. A better explanation of not-heed is ‘with the hair of the head closely cut.’ The verb to nott means to cut the hair close. ‘Tondre, to sheer, clip, cut, powle, nott’; Cotgrave.

Onond, prep. as regards, respecting, S; onont, S; see An-ent.

Quene. It should be noted that E. queen is not precisely the same word as E. quean. For queen is the phonetic equivalent of AS. cwén, Goth. kwēns, whereas quean represents AS. cwĕne, Goth. kwĭno.

Senged, pp. sun-burnt, S3 (p. 364, l. 29); see Sengin.

Sisour, sb. juror, PP; sysour, P; see Asisour.

Stok. Prof. Napier maintains that the stokess of the Ormulum cannot be identified with AS. stocc, as the gemination of the consonant persists in the Ormulum. He suggests that stokess means ‘places,’ comparing the use of stoke in place-names, e.g. Wude stoke in Chron. (Earle, p. 249), He also cites in illustration AS. stoc-weard, ‘oppidanus,’ see Leo, p. 206.

Sum (1). Delesumere, dat., S;’

Twichand, pres. pt. touching, regarding, S3 (13. 271).

Tyred, pp. attired, dressed, S2; see Atyren.


Urþe (written Vrþe), sb. earth, S2; see Erthe.

Whicche, a chest, trunk, box; whucche, PP; whyche, Prompt.; hoche, Prompt.—AS. hwicce; ‘Clustella, hwicce;’ Engl. Studien, xi. 65.

Wike, sb. pl. the corners of the mouth, S (4 a. 49).—Cf. Icel. munnvik, pl., the corners of the mouth; see CV (s.v. munnr). The word wikes is still in use in this sense at Whitby. See Whitby Glossary (E.D.S.).

Wone, adj. one, S3 (7. 97); see Oon.

Wyne-grapis, sb. pl. vine-grapes, S3 (13. 99).

Transcriber’s Notes:


Underlining in the Dictionary

All underlining was added by the transcriber. You will see the following forms:

errors noted by transcriber

errors noted by author

links between files

ambiguous hyphens (underlining intentionally faint)

Greek words (underlining should be invisible in most browsers)

text from Additions and Corrections (outlined as a block)

Errors and Inconsistencies

For errors corrected by the authors, see the Additions and Corrections section; for errors in cross-references, see below.

Typographical errors are shown in the text with mouse-hover popups. Most errors are trivial, such as missing or incorrect punctuation or misplaced italics. Variant abbreviations such as “O.H.G.” for “OHG.” have been regularized to the forms given in the Authorities and Language lists. The word “invisible” in corrections means that there is an appropriately sized blank space in the printed text.

Errors in Greek accents were silently corrected. A few minor variations were retained, including:

“hedgehog” or “hedghog”
Cf. or Cp.
(n) or (n.)
pt. pr. or pt.-pr.

Alphabetization in the Dictionary

Unless otherwise noted, words are spelled and alphabetized as originally printed. Note in particular:

The letter Æ æ is alphabetized as ae.

The letter I is alphabetized according to its phonetic value, vowel before consonant. J is not used.

Thorn Þ þ and eth ð (capital Ð does not occur) are alphabetized as th.

The letters U and V are shown with the form used in their source documents, but are alphabetized by phonetic value. A few sequences such as initial Su- do not make this distinction.

Yogh Ȝ ȝ is alphabetized after y.


All cross-references are linked directly to the referenced word. When the word is located in your current file (A-F, G-Q, R-Ȝ) the link is highlighted; when it is in one of the two other files, the link is underlined. These settings may be overridden by your personal browser preferences. Your browser may take a short while to find the word, especially if it is opening a file for the first time, so you will generally see the beginning of the new file before being taken to the right location.

When there is an error in the cross-reference, the word is shown in its original form, while the link leads to the correct form. Simple corrections are shown in mouse-hover popups with two standard wordings: headword spelled ‘Mous’ means that the referenced form exists but is not the primary entry; error for ‘Mous’ means that the spelling in the cross-reference is not used.

Most errors are minor lapses in editing, such as adding or omitting a final e or n (in verbs), or forgetting that the text does not use the letter J. More serious errors, such as references to words that could not be found in the Dictionary, are explained in separate paragraphs immediately following the entry.

Technical Note

Anchors of Dictionary headwords are in the form word_entry (lower case) with these modifications:

æ, ð, þ, ȝ have been expanded to ae, dh, th, gh

— diacritical marks and medial hyphens have been omitted

— spaces (only in phrases) have been changed to _ lines

— duplicate headwords are identified by part of speech and, if necessary, by number: word_thanne_adv; word_on_prefix_1. If the text uses numbers, as with groups of identically spelled prefixes, the anchor will use the same number.

Hyphens At Line-End

The book’s two-column format resulted in a great many line-end hyphens. Most hyphenated words were unique, so the ordinary tests (“Is this word, or a structurally similar one, hyphenated on its other occurrences?”) could seldom be used.

Line-end hyphens in cross-references (“see”, “see also”, “cf.”) were kept or omitted based on the form of the cross-referenced headword. Note that hyphenization in this situation is very inconsistent. Except in the Additions, cross-references often omit a mid-line hyphen that is present in the referenced word, or include one that is absent.

Line-end hyphens were retained in past participles in i-, y- and equivalent, and after the prefixes out- and to-; they were omitted before common endings such as -lich, -ship, -ness, -full. They were removed after Middle English un-, but retained after Anglo-Saxon un-.

The remaining line-end hyphens were omitted unless they were in the same location (morphological boundary) as the hyphen in the headword, or if the hyphenated word was a compound. Within these two groups, final decisions were based on more fluid criteria such as internal consistency within an entry, or hyphenization of other words from the same source. Words printed with these types of ambiguous hyphens are lightly underlined in the e-text. The position of omitted hyphens is generally obvious, and has not been explicitly marked.

Beginning of these notes
Beginning of this file