AngloSaxon Infopedia

Anglo-Saxon Glossary

aetheling a king-worthy man of the extended royal family
aewda witness, usually by compurgation
after-geld after-payment
aldor elder, senior, lord (often in the form ealdor)
ambihtsmith court smith, court carpenter, court handyman
angylde compensation payment fixed by law
ath   oath
bell-house belfry
birele cupbearer, steward
blot sacrifice or offering to idols
boc-land land held by charter
bold-gaetal lord's estate.
borh pledge, security, debt
borhbryce breach of surety
bot remedy, relief, compensation
brygc, bryc, bric bridge
bryce breach, violation
burh dwelling
burh-bryce breach of a dwelling ("breaking and entering")
burhgate-seat town or fortification gate
canne cup
ceapgeld market price, purchase price
cear-wund badly (perhaps "mortally") wounded
ceorl freeman (of the lowest class), churl
ceorlish ceorl-like (note that "churlish" in modern English has a much more pejorative tone than ceorlisc)
churchealdor Church-elder
church-frith sanctuary, a special protection under ecclesiastical auspices
church-grith sanctuary
church-hlaford lord of a church
churchscots church tax or payment
churchsocns ecclesiastical jurisdiction, sanctuary
cyne kin
cynebot, cynegeld royal compensation
cynedom royal law, kingdom
cyreath oath of compurgation undertaken by accused and compurgators
drihtinbeah payment to a lord in compensation for killing his freeman
drinclean payment due from tenant to lord for ale
ealdorman, ealdor noble ruler of a county, chief, governor of a province
edor homestead, farmhouse.
edorbryce house-breaking
eorl borrow-word from Old Norse jarl, often used in place of ealdorman in documents from Cnut's reign forward.
eorl-right earl's right, right of an ealdorman
esne slave, servant, retainer
esne-workmen hirelings, mercenaries, day-laborers
faehth feud
fahman foeman, usually the object of a blood-feud
fare go
feahfang bribery (especially the act of taking a bribe)
feorm, firma provisions, foodstuffs, a grant of land in exchange for partial usufruct, rent in kind paid by tenants
fioh, feoh cattle, chattel, money, riches, fee, payment
flet dwelling, hall
flyma fugitive, outlaw, exile
flymanfyrmth harboring a fugitive
flyma's-wer legal value (wergeld) of an outlaw
folc-land common land, held by the folk or nation
folkmote folkmoot, meeting of a district (usually a hundred) for legal actions and to hear royal writs
folkright common law, folk law
fore-ath preliminary oath
forlongen ancient, long ago
fosterlean remuneration for rearing a child
frith-gewritu peace agreement
frum-gyld first installment of a payment
fryth peace, restoration of rights, amnesty
ful unconsecrated ground
fyrd military expedition, royal levy
gaengang return
gafol tribute, tax, debt
gemot meeting, court
gesithcund retainer-like, fit to be a thegn
hadbot compensation for injury, to a person in holy orders
hand-grith security, surety given by the king's hand
hand-haebbende a thief caught in the act, e.g., "red-handed"
heals-fang a fine, a preferential share of a wergeld, pillory
hearm damage, injury, tort
hlaford loaf-giver, lord
hloth troop, band, gang (e.g., of thieves or robbers)
hloth-bot penalty for being a member of a band or gang
hold faithful, loyal; holder of an allod
hordere treasurer, steward, hoarder
laet half-free, a class between slaves and freemen
laeth landed property, a subdivision of the county
lah-slit fine for breach of the law (used in Danelaw)
leod man, people; wergeld for manslaughter
leodgeld wergeld for manslaughter
leud-gelds variant of leodgeld
liblac, lyblac witchcraft
light-scot light tax (usually in support of lighting for a church or monastery)
lyswe corrupt, pustulent
maegbot compensation paid to family
maeg-burg family, kinship group
maegship kinship
maerra, maere peningas money of some kind
mancus thirty pennies
manung district over which reeve has jurisdiction
manwyrth value or price of a man
methel council, meeting
morgengyftt, morgengifu morning-gift, gift from husband to wife on the morning after marriage
morth, morthdaed murder, mortal sin
mund protection, brideprice
mundbyrd protection, patronage
mynsterham monastery
nithing coward, outlaw (often with overtones of sexual deviance)
oferhyrnes contempt; disobedience (particularly disobedience of royal laws)
ora sixteen pennies
orwige corwardly, unwarlike, free of liability for homicide, outlawed
reaflac robbery
reeve, gerefa official, especially sheriff
riht hamscyld legal means of protecting one's home
rimath oath of compurgation
Rom-feoh, Rome-feoh Peter's pence
sac dispute, jurisdiction, right to empanel a court
sceat, scaet four sceats equal one penny
scip ship
six-hynde pertaining to the class the wergeld of which was 600 shillings
stapela stake, post
stermelda complainant, informer
thegn knight, nobleman, retainer, minister
theoden chief, king, God
theow-men slave, servants
theow-work slave-work, servant-work
thrymsas tremise (equal to three denarii), three pennies of Mercian money
tun farm, manor, dwelling, village
twy-hynde having a wergeld of 200 shillings
ut-ware foreign defense, defense against outsiders
walreaf the taking of spoils from the slain
wealh, wylisc British, Welsh.
wed pledge, security, dowry
wedbryce treachery
wegreaf highway robbery
wer man, money value of a man's life
wer-borh pledge for the payment of wergeld
wergeld money value of a man's life
wic-reeve reeve of a wic (village, town), bailiff, tax-collector
witan royal council
wite fine, punishment, penalty, contribution to the king
wither-tihtle counter-charge

It should be noted that not all the definitions provided are uncontroversial, since a number of the issues underlying some of these terms are still very much a matter of scholarly debate.

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