Thanks to a MetaFilter thread of dhartung‘s, I’ve discovered the online version of Zoëga’s Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic. Not a classic work of lexicography like Platts, but a useful one, and I’ve been wanting a copy for quite a while. Chalk another one up for the internet.

Update (Dec. 2019). That link is dead, but thanks to juha here are working ones: Zoega, Cleasby-Vigfusson.


  1. This is really perplexing, I thought I have linked to the dictionary but apparently I haven’t. I have used the online version for a long time… And I have a paper copy too. It’s a neat little volume with quite a lot of info. If you’re looking for a classic work of lexicography, I recommend Cleasby-Vigfusson.

  2. Absolutely. Now who’ll put Cleasby-Vigfusson online?

  3. Lars Mathiesen says
  4. Lars Mathiesen says

    Akismet doesn’t like two links without other text.


  5. Randomly picked a page and found this gem:

    aust-maðr, m., pl. austmenn, in Icel. and in the northern part of the British Islands a standing name of those who came from the Scandinavian continent, esp. Norse merchants, vide the old Irish chronicles, and the Sagas, passim. The English used ‘ easterling’ in the same sense, and sterling is an abbreviation of the word from the coin which the ‘easterlings’ brought with them in trade.

    pound easterling, who would have thought…

  6. Thanks very much! Here are direct links: Zoega, Cleasby-Vigfusson.

  7. SFR: pound easterling, who would have thought…

    Not me, that’s who. Thanks!

  8. pound easterling, who would have thought…

    Alas, too good to be true. OED (emphasis added):

    Etymology: Early Middle English sterling , whence Old French esterlin , medieval Latin esterlingus , sterlingus , sterlinus , Middle High German sterlinc , Italian sterlino . Of uncertain origin, but probably a late Old English formation in -ling suffix1.

    The word, if of English origin, presumably was descriptive of some peculiar characteristic of the new Norman penny. The most plausible explanation is that it represents a late Old English *steorling , ‘coin with a star’ ( < steorra star), some of the early Norman pennies having on them a small star. An old conjecture is that the word is derived < stær a starling (stare n.1), and alludes to the four birds (usually called ‘martlets’) on some coins of Edward the Confessor; but if this were so the early form would normally have been starling. Until recently, the prevailing view was that the word was a shortening of Easterling n. Walter de Pinchebek (c1300) gives this explanation, saying that the coin was originally made by Easterling moneyers; but the stressed first syllable would not have been dropped.

    In Scotland the word was confused with the name of the town of Stirling, anciently Strivelin; hence the β forms common in the 15th and 16th centuries.

    AHD: [Middle English, silver penny : possibly sterre, star; see STAR + –ling, diminutive suff. (from the small star stamped on the coin); see -LING1.]

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