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8 Anglo Saxon Words we Need to Bring Back

By July 24, 2016April 10th, 2018Language

The English language is a fluid thing, it is in a constant state flux, evolving all the time with words falling out of favour and new ones replacing them, archaic words enjoying a resurgence and acronyms being recognised as a word in its own right. But what of early English, I’m talking about Anglo Saxon English from way back in time some 1,000 years ago?

Here are 8 Anglo Saxon words that I think we should bring back into use.


Literally meaning poison head, attercope was first discovered in a medical textbook from the 1100s and survived as a regularly used term well into the 1600s although it is now only used by a very few dialects, it means, spider.


Referring to the heart, or the soul which was thought to reside within the heart Breóst-hord means breast treasure, or basically that which makes you, you.


A union of two words cuma meaning a stranger, or perhaps a houseguest and feorm which referred to food or supplies prepared for a journey. So a Cumfeorm was simply a form of hospitality whereby food and entertainment would be offered to strangers


Adding the suffix ling to the old English Aers which meant arse makes earsling a word meaning to go in the direction of your arse, or rather, to go backwards. The term survives among a few English dialects as arseling.


Eaxle was an Old English word used to describe your shoulder or armpit so an Eaxl-gestealle is literally a “shoulder-friend” or, your very best buddy


Nowadays it’s better known as bumfluff; that is, the fluffy fuzzy hair that a young boy will display upon his face when first attempting to grow a beard.


Meaning shelter feather, Hleów-feðer was often used in Anglo Saxon literature to represent putting a protective arm around someone.


And to finish us off, a quintessentially English word. Unweder is that special kind of weather that is just so awful that it can no longer be described as weather and so becomes Unweder.

Oh how I would have loved to have been around when these and other words, which have probably been lost for all time, were in regular use.

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One Comment

  • And when the weather gets bad, it’s no longer “weather” but “un-weather”— an Old English word for a storm. Next time you spot a misbehaving child, or you want to seize the night rather than the day, you’ll have the perfect phrase at hand.

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