Hnefi

Old Norse Dictionary - hnefi

Meaning of Old Norse word "hnefi" in English.

As defined by the Cleasby & Vigfusson Old Norse to English dictionary:

hnefi Old Norse word can mean:

hnefi
a, m. the king in a kind of chess played by the ancients, FaS. ii. 68: the game was called hnefa-tafl, n., which is variously spelt—nettafl, Gullþ. 20, and hnettafl, Grett. 144 A (which are contracted or assimilated forms); hneftafl, Mork. 186, FmS. vi. 29, FaS. i. 284; hnottafl (a bad form), FaS. i. 476 in a spurious verse, and in Krók. ch. 10; hnefa-tafl (the true form), FaS. i. 67. The game is best described in Friðþ. S. ch. 3, and in one of the riddles in Hervar. S. (where however the rhymed replies are not genuine): ‘Who are the maids that fight about their unarmed lord, the dark all day defending, but the fair slaying?’ The players were two, as in chess; there was only one king (hnefi), here called the ‘unarmed lord;’ the pieces (töflur) were white and red, the white attacking, the red defending the hnefi; þat er hneftafl, enar dökkri verja hnefann, en hinar hvítari sækja, FaS. i. 474; þat er húninn í hneftafli, 476: pieces made of silver are recorded in Gullþ. S., of walrus-bone in Krók. l. c. For the general use of this game, cp. the dialogue between the two brother kings, Mork. l. c.,—teflig hneftafl betr, era þat minna vert en afl þitt; Sigurðr Ormr í auga ok Hvítserkr hvati sitja at hneftafli, FaS. i. 284: whenever tafl is mentioned, this particular game seems to be understood, e. g. the gullnar töflur and tefldu í túni of the Vsp.; cp. earl Rögnvald’s verse in Orkn. ch. 61; and the fatal game of chess between king Canute and earl Ulf in Roeskilde A. D. 1027 was probably a hneftafl. We see from Mork. l. c. that it was still played at the beginning of the 12th century, but in after times it was superseded by the true chess (skák); both games were probably of the same origin.
hnefi
COMPDS: hnefatafla, hneftöfl, hnettöfl, hnettafla.

Possible runic inscription in Younger Futhark:ᚼᚾᛁᚠᛁ
Younger Futhark runes were used from 8th to 12th centuries in Scandinavia and their overseas settlements

Abbreviations used:

A. D.
Anno Domini.
ch.
chapter.
cp.
compare.
e. g.
exempli gratia.
l.
line.
l. c.
loco citato.
m.
masculine.
n.
neuter.
S.
Saga.
þ.
þáttr.

Works & Authors cited:

Fas.
Fornaldar Sögur. (C. II.)
Fms.
Fornmanna Sögur. (E. I.)
Grett.
Grettis Saga. (D. II.)
Gullþ.
Gull-Þóris Saga. (D. II.)
Hervar. S.
Hervarar Saga. (C. II.)
Krók.
Króka Refs Saga. (D. V.)
Mork.
Morkinskinna. (E. I.)
Orkn.
Orkneyinga Saga. (E. II.)
Vsp.
Völuspá. (A. I.)
➞ See all works cited in the dictionary

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This headword also appears in dictionaries of other languages descending from Old Norse.

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