Cleasby & Vigfusson Old Norse dictionary
Online version of the classic Old Norse / Old Icelandic dictionary by Richard Cleasby & Gudbrand Vigfusson, originally published in 1874
It is the largest Old Norse to English dictionary. Containing over 35 000 entries with English definitions, it is one of the most important resources for the norse language.Search the dictionary
What is Old Norse?
Old Norse is a dead language, that was the father of modern languages like Icelandic, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Faroese and Elfdalian.
It was spoken by Scandinavians during the Viking Age, making it the "language of vikings".
A sample of Old Norse:
En er þessi tíðindi verða, þástendr upp Heimdallr ok blæss ákafliga í Gjallarhorn ok vekr upp ǫll guðin, ok eiga þau þing saman. þá ríðr Óðinn til Mímisbrunns ok tekr ráð af Mími fyrir sér ok sínu liði. þá skelfr askr Yggdrasils, ok engi hlutr er þá óttalauss á himni eða jǫrðu. Æsir herklæða sik ok allir Einherjar ok sœkja fram á vǫlluna. ríðr fyrstr Óðinn með gullhjálm ok fagra brynju ok geir sinn er Gungnir heitir. Stefnir hann móti Fenrisúlf, en Þórr fram á aðra hlið honum, ok má hann ekki duga honum, því at hann hefir fullt fang at berjask við Miðgarðs-orm.
Excerpt from "About Ragnarøk" in Gylfaginning chapter 51, Prose Edda. Prose Edda was written around 1220, but the stories and poems are thought to be composed over longer period of time, the eldest ones linguistically dating back to the 9th century.
Written language of the dictionary
The dictionary was published in the late 1800's, making the language of the definitions a bit old fashioned. The author also seemed to prefer cognates, meaning that definition may use lesser known English word that happens to have more similar root to the Old Norse word. For example, spyrja is not simply "to ask", but instead "to speer", which is an older English word meaning the same thing.
The Cleasby & Vigfusson book also used modern Icelandic practice of using letter ö to represent the original Old Norse vowel ǫ. Whenever this letter appears in a headword, an automatic alternative form is also provided.
For example, völlr would become vǫllr.
Random entries from the dictionary:
adj. of dark misty colour (of cows).
að, to nap, Skálda 163.
f. an everlasting abode, Hom. (St.)
f. part. one’s own wife, H. E. ii. 111.
m. a hermit, Greg. 70, 655 iii. 4.
(eir-samr), adj. mild.
adj. = eitrfár, Al. 168.
að, to amend (Lat. word), Fb. i. 517.
n. = fáleikr, melancholy.
n. pl. foul language, Nj. 50, 185.
both wrongly as it seems, cp.
m. a fish-spine, Fms. viii. 221.
n. a fishing-vessel, Fms. v. 101.
m. a fishing-boat, 625. 63.
u, f., vide dugga.
f. a fisherman’s abode, Vm. 155.
f. magical art, Edda (pref.)
n. pl., botan. lichen Islandicus.
a, m. a precentor in a church.
n. an old deed.
adj. leaping forward, intruding.
a, m. spirit of peace, Pass. 21. 13.
n. an offer of peace.
n. = friðmark, Þorf. Karl. 422, 625. 9.
m. fornication, whoredom, Jb. 137.
n. = frjáaptan, Hkr. iii. 277, Sturl. ii. 211 C.
adj. very frosty, Sks. 227 B.
f. the first gift, 677. 4.
adj. fenceless, N. G. L. i. 8.
adv. gratis, (mod.)
n. even temper, good temper, Sks. passim.
m. a libertine, Blanda.
n. a white foaming stream, Thom. 303.
part. clad in white.
n. evidence of summons, Grág. ii. 321.
a, m. a kindler, Fb. i. 416.