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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon (Vǫlsa) 6I

[1] beytil ‘the pintle’: Also attested as a personal nickname, related to bauta ‘beat’ (AEW: beytill), cf. OE bȳtel, bīetl ‘hammer’. The plant name góibeytill, for field horsetail (Equisetum arvense L), which is found in Ldn (ÍF 1, 273) and Bárðar saga (ÍF 13, 110), offers an interesting parallel (Heizmann 1993, 21). The name refers to the fertile sporangial shoots of the plant that appear in the spring. Their phallic shape has given rise to names with a second element referring to the penis, e.g. Ger. dialect Perdsjlöt ‘horse-prick’, Pfåffenschwånz ‘priest-prick’ or Dan. hundepik ‘dog-prick’, rævepik ‘fox-prick’, præstepintel ‘priest-prick’ (see Marzell and Paul 1943-79, II, 237, 245; Lange 1959, 533, 536); cf. also Eng. cuckoo-pintle/pint (Arum Maculatum), containing pintle or pint ‘penis’, also ‘bolt, pin’.


  1. Bibliography
  2. AEW = Vries, Jan de. 1962. Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. 2nd rev. edn. Rpt. 1977. Leiden: Brill.
  3. ÍF 1 (parts 1 and 2) = Íslendingabók; Landnámabók. Ed. Jakob Benediktsson. 1968. Rpt. as one volume 1986.
  4. Heizmann, Wilhelm. 1993. Wörterbuch der Pflanzennamen im Altwestnordischen. Ergänzungsbände zum RGA 7. Berlin: de Gruyter.
  5. ÍF 13 = Harðar saga. Ed. Þórhallur Vilmundarson and Bjarni Vilhjálmson. 1991.
  6. Lange, Johan. 1959. Ordbog over Danmarks plantenavne. Copenhagen: Munksgaard.
  7. Internal references
  8. Not published: do not cite (LdnIV)


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