Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Sigv Berv 14II

[8] greifum (m. dat. pl.) ‘counts’: The earliest attested occurrence of this honorific in ON (see LP: greifi; Fritzner: greifi). According to Snorri (SnE 1998, I, 80), greifar (either from OE gerēfa ‘reeve’ or from MLG grāve ‘count’; AEW: greifi) were the Saxon equivalents of Engl. barons and Norw. hersar and district chieftains (lendir menn). Such men were appointed by the king to be in charge of the legal and defensive administration of the districts. Sigvatr’s knowledge of the foreign term must stem from his extensive travels on the Continent and in England. His fondness for loanwords is also reflected in st. 18/4 below.


  1. Bibliography
  2. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  3. LP = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1931. Lexicon poeticum antiquæ linguæ septentrionalis: Ordbog over det norsk-islandske skjaldesprog oprindelig forfattet af Sveinbjörn Egilsson. 2nd edn. Copenhagen: Møller.
  4. Fritzner = Fritzner, Johan. 1883-96. Ordbog over det gamle norske sprog. 3 vols. Kristiania (Oslo): Den norske forlagsforening. 4th edn. Rpt. 1973. Oslo etc.: Universitetsforlaget.
  5. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.


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