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Some fun Anglo-Saxon words

Some words I came across in J. R. Clark Hall’s A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary that struck me as amusing or interesting:

  • alb: white garment
  • brægnloca: brain-house, head
  • cossian: to kiss
  • deaðwang: plain of death
  • dreamcræft: art of music
  • dreamleas: joyless, sad
  • Eastermonað: April
  • faroðstræt: path of the sea
  • felasynnig: very guilty
  • hamfaru: attack of an enemy in his house, a housebreaking
  • handscyldig: condemned to lose a hand
  • insocn: brawl in a house
  • instæpe: entrance
  • lobbe: spider
  • manweorðung: adoration of human beings
  • nydniman: to take by force
  • orðanc: cleverness, skill
  • paddanieg: toad-meadow, frog-island
  • rihtæðelcwen: lawful wife
  • scremman: to cause to stumble
  • tintregðegn: torturer, executioner
  • utlendisc: strange, foreign
  • wælmist: mist of death

The app I didn't release

Update: A donation came in today from a generous benefactor, so I’ll be releasing the app after all (in the near future).

Update 2: I ended up deciding not to release the app (and refunded the donation). It was a fun proof of concept and introduction to iPhone coding, but that’s about it.


For the last six months I’ve been working on Hwaet, an Old English dictionary app for the iPhone. It’s based off Bosworth & Toller (digitized by the Germanic Lexicon Project), and I also got permission from the Labyrinth Library to include their collection of Old English texts.

The app works (it’s fully functional). The dictionary’s there (although there’s still a bit of work to be done cleaning up the imported definitions — mostly errors from the digitization as far as I can tell), some of the texts are there (and I wrote a script that made it super easy to import the rest), and the project was going quite well.

So why am I not going to release it?

Mostly because I wanted it to be a free app. Apple requires developers to pay $100/year (and that’s a totally legitimate cost, considering what you get in return for it — I’m not complaining about the fee), and since I won’t be writing commercial apps anytime soon, I can’t justify spending $100/year on it. Especially not with a baby on the way.

Maybe someday I’ll write a web-based mobile version, but in the meantime, here’s what Hwaet looked like:

Germanic languages

For those doing research in older Germanic languages (Gothic, Old Icelandic/Norse, Middle/Old High German, Frisian, Old English, etc.), Sean Crist’s Germanic Lexicon Project is a great resource for old grammars and primers and dictionaries. He’s scanned several out-of-copyright books and put the images online, with a portion of those OCRed and/or in a nice text/HTML/XML format. My own digitization of Henry Sweet’s An Icelandic Primer is on the site as well (that’s where I originally got the images). I’m considering digitizing an early edition of Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Primer but haven’t made up my mind yet.