Glossary of Anglo-Saxon Terms

The following list of terms, as well as all laws from the virtual lawbook, were taken from The Medieval Sourcebook. The full list of laws can be found at:

aetheling a king-worthy man of the extended royal family
aewdas witness, usually by compurgation
aldor elder, senior, lord (often in the form ealdor)
ambihtsmith court smith, court carpenter, court handyman
angylde compensation payment
bell-house belfry
birele cupbearer, steward
boc-lands lands for which charters were held
borh pledge, security, debt
borhbryce breach of surety
bot remedy, relief, compensation
burh dwelling
burh-bryce breach of a dwelling (i.e., "breaking and entering")
burhgate-seat town or fortification gate
canne cup
ceapgeld market price, purchase price
cear-wund badly (perhaps "mortally") wounded
ceorl freeman (of the lowest class)
ceorlish ceorl-like (note that "churlish" in modern English has a much more pejorative tone than ceorlisc)
churchealdor Church-elder
church-frith sanctuary, a special protection under ecclesiastical auspices
church-grith sanctuary
church-hlaford lord of a church
churchscots church tax or payment
churchsocns ecclesiastical jurisdiction, sanctuary
cynebot royal compensation
cynedom royal law, kingdom
cyreath oath of compurgation undertaken by accused and compurgators
drihtinbeah payment to a lord in compensation for killing his freeman
ealdorman noble ruler of a county
edorbryce house-breaking
eorl borrow-word from Old Norse jarl, often used in place of ealdorman in documents from Cnut's reign forward.
eorl-right earl's right, right of an ealdorman
esne slave, servant, retainer
esne-workmen hirelings, mercenaries, day-laborers
fahman foeman, usually the object of a blood-feud
feahfang bribery (especially the act of taking a bribe)
fedesl shouldn't this be "fedels" = feed, upkeep, fatted food animals?
feorm provisions, foodstuffs, a grant of land in exchange for partial usufruct
fioh cattle, chattel, money, riches, fee
flet dwelling, hall
flyma fugitive, outlaw, exile
flyma's-wer legal value (wergeld) of an outlaw
folc-land Eric John's work tries to clarify the meaning of this term, but I don't think anyone really knows precisely what it means
folk-leasing shouldn't this be "folcleasung" = slander?
folkmote folkmoot, meeting of a district (usually a hundred) for legal actions and to hear royal writs
folkright common law, folk law
forlongen ancient, long ago
frith-gewritu peace agreement
frum-gyld first installment of a payment
fryth peace, restoration of rights, amnesty
fyrd military expedition, royal levy (this is another complicated issue)
gaengang return
gafol tribute, tax, debt
gemot meeting
gemot-terms shouldn't this be "gemottermen" = term of the sitting of a district assembly or royal council meeting?
gesithcund retainer-like, fit to be a thegn
hand-grith security, surety given by the king's hand
hand-haebbende a thief caught in the act (e.g., "red-handed").
heals-fang a fine, a preferential share of a wergeld
hearm damage, injury, tort
hloth troop, band, gang (e.g., of thieves or robbers)
hloth-bot penalty for being a member of a band or gang
hold faithful, loyal; holder of an allod
hordere treasurer, steward, hoarder
laadrinc shouldn't this be "ladrinc" = escort?
laeth landed property, a subdivision of the county
lah-slit fine for breach of the law (used in Danelaw)
leod man, people; wergeld for manslaughter
leodgeld wergeld for manslaughter
leud-gelds variant of leodgeld
light-scot light tax (usually in support of lighting for a church or monastery)
lybacs shouldn't this be "lyblac" = witchcraft, magic, sorcery or "lyblaeca" = sorcerer?
lyswe corrupt, pustulent
maeg-burg family, kinship group
maegship kinship
maerra is this "maerac" = boundary-oak, or "maere" = pure, sterling, well-known?
manwyrth value or price of a man
morgengyftt morning-gift
morthdaed murder, mortal sin
morth-worker shouldn't this be "morthweorc" = an act which causes death?
mund protection, brideprice
mundbyrd protection, patronage
mynsterham monastery
nithing coward, outlaw (severe term of opprobrium, often with overtones of sexual deviance)
oferhyrnes disobedience (particularly disobedience of royal laws)
orwige corwardly, unwarlike, free of liability for homicide
portreeve shouldn't this be "portgerefa" = port-reeve, mayor?
riht hamscyld legal means of protecting one's home
rimath oath of compurgation
Rome-feoh Peter's pence
Rom-feoh Peter's pence
sac dispute, jurisdiction, right to empanel a court
scaetts shouldn't this be "sceatt" = coin, money, twentieth part of a shilling
sithcund fit to be a thegn
six-hynde pertaining to the class the wergeld of which was 600 shillings
socn inquiry, right to collect fines
soulscots shouldn't this be "sawolscot" = soulscot, payment to the church for burial
stapela stake, post
stermelda complainant, informer
thegn retainer, minister
theoden chief, king, God
theow-men servants
theow-work slave-work, servant-work
thrymsas tremise (equal to three denarii)
tun farm, manor, dwelling, village
twy-hynde having a wergeld of 200 shillings
ut-ware foreign defense, defense against outsiders
walreaf the taking of spoils from the slain
wed pledge, security, dowry
wedbryce treachery
wegreaf highway robbery
wer man, money value of a man's life
wer-borh pledge for the payment of wergeld
wergeld money value of a man's life
wic-reeve reeve of a wic (village, town), bailiff, tax-collector
witan royal council
wite punishment, penalty, contribution to the king
wither-tihtle counter-charge

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