Updated 19 October 2000


Viking Vocabulary based on English-Icelandic Dictionary (1993)

English, Icelandic

arise..... risa
arrow..... or
beer..... bjor
button........hnappur
drink..... drykkur
drunk..... drukkinn
food..... matur
girl..... stelpa
Goodbye.......vertu saell
Greetings.....kvedja
He..... hann
hero..... hetja
honey..... hunang
men..... manour
No..... ju
shame..... skomm
sail..... segl
she..... hun
ship..... skip
spear..... spjot
tent..........tjald
thank you.....pakka per fyrir
victory..... sigur
vulgar..... donalegur
war..... strio
water..... vatn
women..... kvenfolk
Yes..... ja
You..... bu




More Vocabulary from other sources...
one edge sword...... sax
two edged sword......handsax
thrusting spear......lagvapn
throwing spear.......skotvapn
arrow................flein
leather quiver.......malr
battle axe...........battlox kyrtil...............woman's gown
bloeja...............woman's apron





Viking Riddles from

The Viking Age: The Early History, Manners, and Customs of the Ancestors of the English-Speaking Nations.

written by Paul B. Du Chaillu
Published in 1889 by John Murray, London.

Heidrek, a king of Reidgotaland, was credited with having been able to unravel any riddle that had ever been propounded to him.

A man named Gest the blind was a powerful hersir in Reidgotaland, but wicked and overbearing; he had kept back the tribute belonging to King Heidrek, and there was great enmity between them. The king sent him word that he must come to him and submit to the judgment of his wise men, or fight.

... When he arrived the king said "If you wilt come with a riddle which I cannot guess, and thus procured thyself peace." Two chairs were brought on wihch they sat down Gest then propouded his riddles (hervarar Saga, ch. 15).




Gest
I should wish to have
That which yesterday I had;
Try to know what it was,
Peace-maker among men!
Tamer of words,
And starter of words,
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
Ale changes the temper
and quickens prattle,
But in others the tongue is wrapped around the teeth.


Gest
I went from home,
I travelled from home,
I looked on the road of roads,
Road was above,
Road was beneath,
And road in every direction.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
A bird flew above,
A fish swam beneath,
Thou walkedst on a bridge.


Gest
What kind of drink was it
I drank yesterday?
It was neither water nor wine,
Mead nor ale,
No kind of food. However, I went thirstless thence.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
Thou went'st into sunshine,
Hiddest theyself in the shade'
There fell dew in the valleys;
Then thou didst taste
The night-dew,
Cooling thy throat by it.


Gest
Who the shrill one
That on hard road walks
On which he has been before
He kisses rather roughly,
Has two mouths;
And walks on gold only.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
The hammer walks
On the fire of the Rhine River
[where gold is hidden]
It sounds loudly
Falling on the anvil.


Gest
What wonder is that
Which I saw outside
Before the door on the ground
Two lifeless ones
And breathless,
Seethed sword wound.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
There has neither breath nor heat
In the bellows of the smiths,
They have neither life nor power;
Howevber one can before them
Make a sword
By the wind they give


Gest
What wonder is it
I saw outside
Before the door on the ground
It has eight feet,
Eyes four,
And bears its knee higher than its belly.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
From east thou went'st
To the door of a house
To see the hall;
Thou camest thereto
Where the king of Spider webs
Wove a web from its bowels.


Gest
What wonder is it
I saw outside
Before the doors of Delling?
It turns its head
On the way to Hel
and its feet to the sun.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
The head of the leek turns
Towards the bosom of the earth



Gest
What wonder is it
I saw outside
Before the doors of Delling?
Harder than horn,
Blacker than raven,
Brighter than shield, Straighter than arrow shaft.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Now thy riddle-making
Begins to slacken;
Why should a man tarry?;
Thou lookedst on the roads,
There lay raven-flint.
Glittering in a sunbeam.



Gest
Two bondwomen,
Light-haired maidens,
Carried ale
To the woman's house;
It was not touched with hand,
Nor hammer shaped;
The wave-breasting one who made it
Was on the sea
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
White-fathered skin
Have swans
Which by islands
Sit on the sea;
Nest they built,
But with no hands,
The swan who beget the eggs
Is breasting the waves outside the islands



Gest
Which beast is that
Which defends the Danes?
It has a bloody back
And shelters men,
Meets the weapons,
Exposes its life,
Man lays his body
Against hits palm
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
The shields shine
In battles and protect those who wield them.



Gest
Who are the play sisters
That pass over lands
And play much at will?
They wear a white shield
In winter,
But a dark one
In summer.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
Ptarmigans call
The sons of men
Feather-wearing birds
Their feathers become black
In summer-time
But white during the winter when bear's sleep



Gest
Who are the maidens
That sorrowful go
To seek their father?
To many they have
Harm done,
Passing their life therein.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is guessed;
The evil-minded
Maidens of the Sea
Slay many men.



Gest
Who are the maidens
Going many together
Seeking their father?
They have light hair,
Harm done,
these white-hooded ones,
Men cannot be safe against them.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
Gymnir, the sea
By Ran, the wife of the sea, has begotton
Wise-minded daughters;
Billows they are called,
And also waves;
No man can be safe against them



Gest
Who are the widows
That all go together
To seek their father?
They are seldom gentle,
To men,
these white-hooded ones,
And they must be awake in the wind.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
These are the waves,
Daughter of Aegir, the sea
They let themselves fall heavily.




Gest
Who are the maidens
That walk over reefs
And journey along the fjords?
These white-hooded women
Have a hard bed,
And make little stir in calm weather
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
Billows and waves
And all breakers
At last lay themselves on rocks
Their beds are
Rocks and stone-heaps,
But the calm sea stirs them not.



Gest
Who lives on high mountains?
Who lives in deep dales?
Who lives without breath?
Who is never silent?
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
Ravens live on high mountains;
Dew falls in deep dales;
Fish life without breath in water;
But the sounding waterfall
Is never silent.



Gest
Four are walking,
Four are hanging,
Seeking their father?
Two showing the way,
Two keeping dogs off;
One lags behind
All his days,
That one is always dirty.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
A cow is that beast
Which though didst see
Walk on four feet,
Four teats hang,
And horns defend her;
Her tail hung behind.



Gest
What kind of wonder is it
I saw outside
Before the door of Delling?
It had ten tongues,
Twenty eyes;
Forty feet
Thbat being moves forward.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
If thou art the one that sayest,
Then thou art wiser
Than I expected!
Thou talkest of
A sow outside
Which walked in the yard;
She was slaughtered;
At the will of the king, And she was with nine pigs.



Gest
Who are these two
That go to the thing?
They have three eyes both,
Ten feet,
And one tail have they both.
Thus they pass over lands.
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
Good is thy riddle,
Gest the blind!
It is Odin
When riding along on Sleipnir
He has one eye,
His horse has two eyes,
The horse runs on eight feet Odin has two feet
The horse had one tail



Gest
Tell me that only,
As thou seemest to be
Wiser than any king;
What did Odin say
Into the ear of Baldr
Before he was carried on the pyre?
King Heidrek,
Think of the riddle.

Heidrek
This is wonder and wickedness,
And cravenness only,
Jugglery and trickery only;
But no man knows those words of thine
Except thyself,
Thou evil and wretched being





The king burnt with anger of the last riddle. He drew his sword and tried to strike Gest; But Gest turned himself into the shape of a hawk, And thus saved his life. The hawk attemped to escape by the light-holes, but the kng struck after him and cut off the tip of his tail. And shortened his feathers, Therefore the hawk has a docked tail.




Heidrek struck carelessly and his sword hit a man of the hird, and he was at once slain. Odin said: Because thou, King Heidrek, drewest thy sword and wantedst to slay me, and thyself brokest the truce which thou hadst set between us, the worse of thralls shall be thy slavers. Then Odin flew away, and thus they parted. Hervarar Saga, c.15)