81. Heiti for men

Skalds are called bards; and in skaldship it is correct to call any man so whom one will. Those men who served King Hálfr were called Champions.1 and from their name warriors are called champions; and it is correct to call all men so. In skaldship men are called Lofdar also, as is written above.2 Those men were called Skatnar3 who served the king named Skati the Munificent: from his name every one who is munificent is called Skati. They who followed Bragi the Old were called Bragnar.4 They who assess the transactions of men are called taxers. Fyrdar5 and Firar6 are they called who defend the land. Vikings and fleet-men form a ship-army. They who followed King Beimuni were called Beimar.7 Captains of companies are called Grooms, even as he is called who carries home a bride. The Goths are named after that king who was called Goti, from whom Gotland is named: he was so called after Odin’s name, derived from the name Gautr, for Gautland or Gotland was named after Odin’s name, and Sweden from the name of Svidurr, which is also a title of Odin’s. At that time all the mainland which he possessed was called Reid-Gotaland, and all the islands, Ey-Gotaland: that is now called the Realm of Danes or of Swedes.

Young men not householders are called Drengs, while they are acquiring wealth and glory: sea-faring Drengs are they who voyage from land to land; King’s Drengs are they who serve rulers. They also are Drengs who serve wealthy men or franklins; valiant and ambitious men are called Drengs. Warriors are also called Champions and Troops: these are soldiers. Freeholders are called Thanes and Yeomen; those men who go about reconciling men are called Day-Men. These men are they who are called Champions, Kemps, Men of War, Brave Men, Valiant Men, Hardy Men, Overpowerers, Heroes. Over against these are the following terms: Soft, Weak, Unleavened, Leavenless, Melting One, Sheath, Coward, Skulker, Weakling, Qualmish, Caitiff, Scamp, Vile One, Dog, Lout, Feeble One, Paltry’ One, Imbecile, Bungler, Son of Wretchedness.

A good man of his hands is called Munificent, Illustrious, Towerer, Mighty Towerer, Towering Gold-Giver, Prince of Men, Wealthy One, Prosperous, Heaper-Up of Riches, Mighty Man, Chieftain. In contrast to these are they who are called Niggard, Miser, Calculator, Wretched One, Wealth-Hiding, Gift-Tardy One. A man wise in Counsel is called Wielder of Counsel. A witless man is called Clown, Oaf, Gander, Dupe, Boor, Idiot, Dolt, Fool, Madman, Maniac, Moon-Struck. One who thinks much of dress is called Gaudy, Dreng, Glittering One, Careful of Attire, Tricked-Out. A noisy fellow is called Shark-Skin, Braggart, Sheath-Cleaner, Fawner, Brawler, Good-for-Naught, Worthless One. Common-folk are called Country-folk or People. A thrall is called Kept-Man, Serf, Laborer, Servant.

82. Heiti of groups

Each one singly is called man; ‘t is twain if they are two; three are a thorp; four are a group; a band is five men; if there are six, it is a squad; seven complete a crew; eight men make a panel; nine are ‘good fellows;’ ten are a gang; eleven form an embassy; it is a dozen if twelve go together; thirteen. are a crowd; fourteen are an expedition; it is a gathering, when fifteen meet; sixteen make a garrison; seventeen are a congregation; to him who meets eighteen, they seem enemies enough. He who has nineteen men has a company; twenty men are a posse; thirty are a squadron; forty, a community; fifty are a shire; sixty are an assembly; seventy are a line;8 eighty are a people; one hundred is a host.

83. True terms and surnames

Beside these there are those terms which men prefix to the names of men: we call such terms epithets of possession,9 or true terms, or surnames. It is an epithet of possession when one names a thing by its true name, and calls him whom one desires to periphrase Owner of that thing; or Father or Grandfather of that which was named; Grandsire is a third epithet. Moreover, a son is also called Heir, Heritor, Bairn, Child and Boy, Inheritor. A blood-kinsman is called Brother, Twin, Germane, Consanguine; a relation is also called Nephew, Kinsman, Kin, Kith, Friend, Kin-Stave, Descendant, Family-Prop, Family-Stem, Kin-Branch, Family-Bough, Offshoot, Offspring, Head-Tree, Scion. Kinsmen by marriage are further called Sib-folk, Minglers of Blood. A friend is called Counsel-Mate, Counsel-Giver, Adviser, Secret-Sharer, Converser, Bench-Fellow, Fondling, Seat-Mate; bench-fellow also means Cabin-Mate. A foe is called Adversary, Shooter Against One, Hater, Attacker, Scather, Slayer, Hard Presser, Pursuer, Overbearer.

These terms we call epithets of possession; and so also if a man is known by his dwelling or his ship, which has a name of its own, or by his estate, when a name of its own is given to it.

This we call true terms: to call a man Wise Man, Man of Thought, Wise in Speech, Sage in Counsel, Wealth Munificent, Not Slack, Endower, Illustrious One; these are surnames.

84. Heiti for women

These are simple terms for women in skaldship: Wife and Bride and Matron are those women who are given to a man. Those who walk in pomp and fine array are called Dame and Lady. They who are witty of speech are called Women of Wisdom.10 They who are gentle are called Girls; they who are of high countenance are called Proud and Haughty Ones. She who is of noble mind is called Gentlewoman;11 she who is richest, Lady. She who is bashful, as young -maids are, or those women who are modest, is called Lass. The woman whose husband has departed from the land is called Stay-at-Home.

That woman whose husband is slain is called War-Widow: Widow is the term for her whose husband has died of sick ness. Maid means, first, every woman, and then carlines that are old. Then there are those terms for women which are libellous: one may find them in songs, though they be not ill writing. Those women who have one husband in common are called Concubines. A son’s wife is termed Daughter-in-law; the husband’s mother is called Mother-in-law. A woman may also be called Mother, Grand mother, Great-Grandmother; a Mother is called Dam. Woman is further called Daughter, Bairn, and Child. She is also called Sister, [Lady, and Maiden].12 Woman is also called Bed-Fellow, Speech-Mate, and Secret-Sharer of her husband; and that is an epithet of possession.

85. The head and its parts

A man’s head is termed thus: [thus should it be periphrased: call it Toil or Burden of the Neck; Land of the Helm, of the Hood, and of the Brain, of the Hair and Brows, of the Scalp, of Ears, Eves, and Mouth; Sword of Heimdallr, arid it is correct to name any term for sword which one desires; and to periphrase it in terms of every one of the names of Heimdallr]13 the Head, in simple terms, is called Skull, Brain, Temple, Crown. The eyes are termed Vision or Glance, and Regard, Swift-Appraising; [they may he so periphrased as to call them Sun or Moon, Shields and Glass or Jewels or Stones of the Eyelids, of the Brows, the Lashes, or the Forehead]. The ears are called [Listeners or Hearing];14 [one should periphrase t hem by calling them Land, or any earth-name, or Mouth, or Canal, or Vision, or Eyes of Hearing, if the metaphors employed are new-coined. The mouth one should periphrase by calling it Land or House of the Tongue or of the Teeth, of Words or of the Palate, of the Lips, or the like; and if the metaphors used are not traditional, then men may call the mouth Ship, and the lips the Planks, and the tongue Oar or Tiller of the Ship. The teeth are sometimes called Gravel or Rocks of Words, of the Mouth, or of the Tongue. The tongue is often called Sword of Speech or of the Mouth]. The hair which stands on the lips is called Beard, Moustache, or Whiskers. Hair is called Nap; the hair of women is called Tresses. Hair is termed Locks. [One may periphrase hair by calling it Forest, or by some tree-name; one may periphrase it in terms of the skull or brain or head; and the beard in terms of chin or cheeks or throat.]

86. The heart, breast, and feeling

The heart is called grain-sheaf; [one should periphrase it by terming it Grain or Stone or Apple or Nut or Ball, or the like, in figures of the breast or of feeling. More over, it may be called House or Earth or Mount of Feeling. One should periphrase the breast by calling it House or Garth or Ship of the Heart, of Breath, or of the Liver; Land of Energy, of Feeling, and of Memory]. Feeling is affection and emotion, love, passion, desire, love-longing. [Passion should be periphrased by calling it Wind of Troll Women; also it is correct to name what one soever is desired, and to name giants, periphrasing giantesses as Woman or Mother or Daughter of the Giants.] Feeling is also called mood, liking, eagerness, courage, activity, memory, understanding, temper, humor, good faith. It is also wrath, enmity, mischievousness, grimness, balefulness, grief, sorrow, ill-will, spite, falseness, faithlessness, fickleness, light-mindedness, baseness, hasty temper, violence.

87. The hand, the foot

The hand and fore-arm may be called hand, arm, paw, palm. Parts of the arm are called elbow, upper arm, wolf’s joint,15 finger, grip, wrist, nail, finger-tip, hand-edge, quick. [One may term the hand Earth of Weapons or of Defensive Armor; and together with shoulder and arm, the hollow of the hand and the wrist, it may, be called Earth of Gold Rings, of the Falcon and the Hawk, and of all the equivalents thereof; and in new-coined metaphors, Leg of the Shoulder-joint, and Force of the Bow. The legs may be called Tree of the Soles, of the Insteps, of the Ankles, or the like; Running Shaft of the Road or of the Way or the Pace; one may call the leg Tree or Post of all these. The legs are periphrased in metaphors of snowshoes, shoes, and breeks.] The parts of the legs are called thigh, knee, calf, lower leg, upper leg, instep, arch, sole, toe; [one may periphrase the leg in terms of all these, calling it Tree, Mast, and Yard thereof; and in metaphors of them all].

88. Speech and understanding

Understanding is called wisdom, counsel, discernment, memory, speculation, intelligence, arithmetic, far sight,16 craft, word-wit, preëminence. It is called subtlety, wiliness, falsehood, fickleness.

89. Of using what is hidden or punning

Expression is of two kinds: that which is called voice, and that which is called manners; manners is also temper. Reiði17 also has double meaning: reiði17 is the ill humor of a man, and reiði17 is also the rigging of a ship or the driving-gear of a horse. Fár also has double meaning: fár17 signifies wrath, and far17 signifies a ship. Men have made frequent use of such ambiguous expressions as these; and this practice is called punning. [Lith18 is that part of a man where bones meet; lið is a word for ship; lið means people; when a man renders an other assistance, his aid is lið; líð signifies ale. Hlið signifies the gate in a garth; hliðr men call an ox, and hlíð signifies a slope. One may make such use of these distinct meanings in skaldship as to make a pun that is hard to interpret, provided one employ other distinctions than those which are indicated by the half-lines which precede. These cases are there, and many others, in which divers things have the same name in common.

1. Rekkar.

2. See page 232.

3. Plural of Skati = lordly, towering.

4. Heroes.

5. Cf. A.-S. fyrd, firas.

6. Cf. A.-S. fyrd, firas.

7. Heroes, Men

8. Sörvar, plural of sörvi, a lady’s necklace.

9. Vidhenningar: literally, by-periphrases.

10. Snót (plural, Snótir) = a gentlewoman. Cf. Snotr = wise. A popular etymology.

11. Literally = Plowshare. (See Cl.-Vig, p. 498.)

12. Dís; properly = sister. For discussion of these words, see under dís in Cl.-Vig., p. 100.

13. This and other pages in brackets are probably spurious.

14. These are the literal meanings; the meanings, in general usage, coincide: both words signify the inner parts of the ear (Cl.-Vig.).

15. This is the wrist-joint.

16. That is prophecy.

17. These are properly two different words.

18. Lið.



CL.-VIG. = the Cleasby-Vigfússon Icelandic-English Dictionary, Oxford, 1874.

COD. REG. = Codex Regius, one of the manuscripts in which Snorri’s Edda is preserved.

COD. WORM. = Codex Wormianus, another of the manuscripts.

COD. UPSAL. = Codex Upsaliensis, a third manuscript (U).

YNGL. S. = Ynglinga Saga.

GYLFAG. = Gylfaginning.

SKÁLDS. = Skáldskaparmál.

Bellows Corona Edda Eiriksmal Fb Frigg Goddess Eir Hakonarmal Harald Fairhair Havamal Havamol Heathen Heathens Heimdallr Heimskringla Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar I – The First Lay of Helgi the Hunding Sólarljóð – Songs of the Sun Gróttasöngr – The Lay of Grotti Hymiskviða Hyndluljóð Hárbarðsljóð Hávamál Lokasenna Mimir Nine worlds NNV Odin Othin Petition Poetic Edda Prophecy of the Seeress Ragnarök Reginsmál Sacred text Skaldskaparmal Skírnismál Snorri Sturluson social media Study Toughts Vafþrúðnismál Valhalla Viking Völundarkviða Völuspá Yggdrasil Þrymskviða