As defined by the Cleasby & Vigfusson Old Norse to English dictionary:
- u, f. a concubine, as opp. to a wedded wife; this word is either akin to eljan in the sense of zeal, jealousy, or to the word eligr, as these women were often captives of war and handmaids; cp. the case of Melkorka, Ld., cp. also Gen. xxi. 10:—the word is defined in Edda 109,—þær konur eru eljur, er einn mann eigu, those women are called ‘eljur,’ who are wives of one man; stattú upp ór binginum frá elju minni, Nj. 153; en elja hennar görði henni jafnan skapraun, Stj. 428. 1 Sam. i. 6 (‘and her adversary also provoked her sore,’ of the two wives of Elkanah); systur konu þinnar skaltú eigi taka til elju hennar, Stj. 320, Lev. xviii. 18: in poetry the earth is called the elja of Rinda, one of Odin’s wives, Fms. vi. (in a verse): this word points to the remotest time; the sole passage where it occurs in an Icel. hist, work is Nj. (above), where it is wrongly used, the wedded wife being called the elja by the concubine; cp. arin-elja.
Possible runic inscription in Younger Futhark:ᛁᛚᛁᛅ
Younger Futhark runes were used from 8th to 12th centuries in Scandinavia and their overseas settlements
- Iceland, Icelander, Icelanders, Icelandic.
Works & Authors cited:
- Edda. (C. I.)
- Fornmanna Sögur. (E. I.)
- Laxdæla Saga. (D. II.)
- Njála. (D. II.)
- Stjórn. (F. I.)
Also available in related dictionaries:
This headword also appears in dictionaries of other languages descending from Old Norse.