Ten words that prove that you speak Vikings without knowing it

Among the words borrowed from foreign languages, many come from the Scandinavian countries. Here is a brief overview of what our language owes to men from the north.

At the end of their stay in Normandy, the Vikings left behind not just simple ships, but words related to the maritime world or Scandinavian culture. Many of them have really entered our language. Le Figaro offers you a little immersion in this amazing vocabulary, a remnant of the influence of warriors from the fjords.

● Iceberg

The word “iceberg” comes from the Norwegian “isberg”, which literally means “iceberg”. This common name with Scandinavian sounds is a good example of terms that run in several languages ​​(Norwegian and English) before finally getting into our vocabulary.

● Wave

Who could have guessed about the Scandinavian kinship of this common word? The general name “wave” really comes from the Old Norse “vágr”, which means sea, wave. It is also interesting to note that the word “river” in Scandinavian is called “floating”. Hence the names of cities on the Normandy coast, founded during the Vikings along the waterways. The name “flower”, formerly “floth”, then “fleu”, is quite common in Normandy in the form of endings. Examples include Barfler, Honfler …

● Foam

From the Scandinavian “skûm”, the word foam already meant in the language of Ragenar white foam, which appears both on the crest of the waves and on the lips of animals infected with rabies.

● Elf

Common imaginary creatures in Norse mythology, elves were represented in English and French through the Scandinavian language. In fact, the elf comes from the word “alfr”, which gave “älf” before it found its final form in modern languages.

● Crab

Crabs, curry crabs … all belong to a family whose genus dates back to the Nordic countries: crabs. And so, the word “crab” comes from the Old Norse “krabbi”, extremely numerous crustaceans on the North Sea coast.

● Skiing

A favorite pastime of the French in winter, skiing – another asset that we owe the Scandinavians. If the origins of skiing are uncertain and differ according to legends between the Nordic countries and Central Asia, the word skiing certainly comes from the Scandinavian countries: “skiing” in the Viking language means “wooden board”.

● Lobster

These crustaceans have already been a popular dish among gourmets from the north. Even if the Scandinavians are not known for their gastronomy, it is clear that it was the Vikings who taught us to label and taste “humor”, which over the centuries has become a “lobster”.

● Packing ice

Despite the fact that for centuries the word icy icy icy icy icy icy ice To understand the modern form of the word, it is important to remember that “p” is pronounced almost as “b” in Scandinavia.

● Harp

During their travels, the Vikings found an instrument that played an important role in the animation of their evenings: the harp. The instrument was so successful that it is also the same word “harf” that meant this instrument, as well as any object that creates music. Therefore, the French returned this Scandinavian word, no doubt to pay tribute to the musical obsession of the Viking warriors.

● Reindeer

Accustomed to deer and stags, thanks to the Vikings, we discovered the existence of reindeer, which are present only in the northernmost parts of the globe. To denote these mysterious animals, the easiest way was to preserve the old Danish term “rendyr”, which has been given to reindeer for many years.


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