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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Sól 42VII l. 4

gylfar — of the sea


1. gylfr (noun m.): [sea]


[4] gylfar: gilnar papp15ˣ, gylfu 1441ˣ


[4] gylfar ‘of the sea’: This word occurs only here in OIcel. and does not exist in MIcel. Bugge (1867, 364), though he adduces ON gjálfr ‘the sound of the sea’ and by extension ‘sea’ (LP: gjálfr), reads Gylfar as a gen. pers. n., derived from *Gylfr, meaning ‘gulf, body of water’. However, there is no such word recorded in ON. Falk (1914, 26) relates it to a Norw. dialect word he gives as gyl ‘mountain-cleft’, cf. OED: gill n.2, noting that the entrance to the ON underworld is sometimes envisaged as a headland (Egill St 25V; Fáfn 11/2) and linking a water-filled cleft to the vötn fjalla ‘mountain waters’ of 45/4. LP: Gylfr (?), f. (?) notes the obscurity of the word’s form and meaning. Skj B, as also Skald, gives Gilfar, a pers. n., apparently derived from *Gylfr. Björn M. Ólsen (1915, 43) emends to Gylfa, from Gylfi, a sea-king name, and thus interprets Gylfa straumar ‘the currents of Gylfi’ as a kenning for the sea. It seems likely that the word does have some association with the sea (cf. AEW: Gylfi, which cites gylfr, f. a river name, also ‘wave, sea’ as cognate); whether it is a common noun or a pers. n. is uncertain.



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