Old English Core Vocabulary (2023)

The list below presents some 500 Old English words which could be regarded as literary core vocabulary. Some of the words are among the most frequent in Old English literature; some are of particular importance on account of their literary or linguistic usage. The reference ‘poet.’ signals predominant usage of a word in poetry. The cognates in a number of related languages are intended to make memorisation of the words easier. A word signalled as ‘hapax legomenon’ is found only once in the entire Old English corpus, and was possibly coined for the passage in question.

This list of Old English Core Vocabulary is intended as a teaching aid: the idea is that students learn this list of words by heart. It can be used in undergraduate or postgraduate Old English teaching, either for compulsory or optional assessments, or just for background. Tests can be made easier or harder, depending on whether the examined translation is from Old English to Modern English, or vice versa, or both, and depending on how much time students are allowed to memorise the vocabulary.

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I try to keep the word list as stable as possible; the insertion of updates and corrections is limited to one week during the summer, when students are unlikely to be using it formally. There are no plans for moving this page to another address. If you have any corrections, comments, or questions, please feel free to contact me by emailing cr30@st-andrews.ac.uk.

(Video) 600 English Words for Everyday Life - Basic Vocabulary #30

Languages are abbreviated as follows: OE = Old English; MnE = Modern English; MnG = Modern German; MnDu = Modern Dutch; MnDa = Modern Danish; MnScots = Modern Scots; MnSw = Modern Swedish; L = Latin; MedL = Medieval Latin; MedGr = Medieval Greek.

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Old English Core Vocabulary

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abutan, adv., about, around
ac, conj., but, however
acennan, verb, bring forth, give birth to
acwellan, verb, to kill
adl, noun, f., sickness, disease
agen, adj., own
aglæca, noun, m., monster, combatant, the terrible one (poet.)
ahwær, adv., anywhere
alimpan, verb, befall, come to pass
alyfan, verb, to permit, allow
amyrran, verb, to wound (cp. MnE to mar)
an, numeral, a, an, one
and, conj., and
anda, noun, m., malice, hostility
andgit, noun, n., meaning, sense
andsaca, noun, m., enemy, adversary (cp. MnG Widersacher)
andswarian, verb, to answer
andweard, adj., present
andwlita, noun, m., face (cp. MnG Antlitz)
andwyrdan, verb, to answer (cp. MnG antworten)
anfeald, adj., simple, onefold (cp. MnG einfältig)
anfloga, noun, m., solitary flier (hapax legomenon, The Seafarer)
angel, noun, m., hook (cp. MnE angle)
anginn, noun, n., beginning
anhaga, noun, m., solitary one, one who dwells alone (poet.)
anlicnes, noun, f., image
anræd, adj., resolute
anwealda, noun, m., ruler, Lord (poet.)
ar, noun, n., copper (cp. MnE ore)
ar, noun, f, honour, mercy, favour, prosperity
ar, noun, f., oar
ariht, adv., properly
arisan, verb, to arise

arleas, adj., dishonourable
arlice, adv,. honourably, kindly
arod, adj., bold
arweorþe, adj., honourable
asecgan, verb, to say, tell

astyrian, verb, to remove, to move (cp. MnE to stir)
atelic, adj., horrible, dreadful
ateon, verb, to draw, unsheathe
atol, adj., terrible, hateful (poet.)
attor, noun, n., venom (cp. MnG Eiter)
, noun, m., oath
awiht, noun, n., anything (cp. MnE aught)
axian, verb, to ask
æ, noun, f., law (cp. MnG Ehe)
æcer, noun, m., cultivated field (cp. MnE acre)
æfæst, adj., pious
æfen, noun, m., evening (cp. MnE even, eve)
æfre, adv., forever, always, ever
æfter, prep., after
æfterfylgan, verb, to follow, to come after
æghwa, pron., everyone, everything
æghwær, adv., everywhere
ægþer, pron., each, both, either
æht, noun, f., possessions, property
æl, noun, m., eel
ælc, pron., adj., each, every
ælfscyne, adj., beautiful as a fairy (3 occurrences, poet.)
ælmihtig, adj., almighty
æmettig, adj., empty
ænig, adj., any
ær, adv., before, previously (cp. MnE ere)
ærende, noun, n., message (cp. MnE errand)
ærest, adj., first
ærgewinn, noun, n., ancient hostility (hapax legomenon, The Dream of the Rood)
ærgod, adj., good from old times (5 occurrences, only in Beowulf)

ærnan, verb, to run
æsc, noun, m., ash tree, spear
æscplega, noun, m., spear-fight, battle (hapax legomenon, Judith)
æscrof, adj., brave in battle
æstel, noun, m., ?pointer used to keep one’s place as one reads (4 occurrences)
æt, prep., at
ætgædere, adv., together
ætsomne, adv., together
ætywan, verb, to appear, to show
æþele, adj., noble
æþeling, noun, m., prince, atheling
æþelo, noun, n. pl., origin, descent, noble lineage
baldlice, adv., boldly
bana, noun, m., slayer (cp. MnE bane, poet.)
banhus, noun, n., body (‘bone-house’, 6 occurrences, poet.)
banloca, noun, m., ‘bone-enclosure’, ?muscles, ?body (5 occurrences, poet.)
bar, noun, m., boar
bat, noun, m., boat
baþian, verb, to bathe
bæc, noun, n., back
bæcere, noun, m., baker
bæl, noun, n., fire, funeral pyre (poet.)
bærnan, verb, to burn
bæþ, noun, n., bath
be, prep., about, concerning
beacen, noun, n., beacon, sign
beadu, noun, m., battle (15 occurrences, poet.)
beadurinc, noun, m., warrior (3 occurrences, poet.)
beadurof, adj., bold in battle (8 occurrences, poet.)
beag, noun, m., circular ornament (around neck, wrist, finger etc.), ring (cp. MnE bagel)
beaggyfa, noun, m., ring-giver, lord (7 occurrences, poet.)
beaggyfu, noun, f., ring-giving, generosity (hapax legomenon, poet.)
beaghord, noun, n., ring-hoard, treasure (3 occurrences, all in Beowulf)
bealdor, noun, m., lord (10 occurrences, poet.)
bealu, noun, n., misery, harm, injury, enmity
bealuhygdig, adj., intending evil, hostile (hapax legomenon, Beowulf)
bealusiþ, noun, m., painful journey, bitter experience (2 occurrences, poet.)
beam, noun, m., tree, cross
bearm, noun, m., bosom, lap
bearn, noun, n., child, son (cp. MnE dialect bairn)
bearu, noun, m., grove
bebeodan, verb, to command
gebed, noun, n., prayer
bedælan, verb, to deprive
begen, adj. and pron., both
begeondan, prep., beyond
begietan, verb, to get, to acquire
beginnan, verb, to begin
begnornian, verb, to lament
beheafdian, verb, to behead, decapitate
behreowsian, verb, to repent
benc, noun, f., bench
benn, noun, f., wound (9 occurrences, poet.)
beon, verb, to be
beor, noun, n., beer
beorg, noun, m., hill, mound, mountain (cp. MnG Berg)
beorgan, verb, to save, protect
beorht, adj., bright
beorn, noun, m., man, warrior (poet.)
gebeorscipe, noun, m., beer party
beot, noun, n., vow, boast
beran, verb, to carry, bear
berstan, verb, to burst
beswican, verb, to deceive, ensnare
bet, adv., better
gebetan, verb, to improve, remedy
betweonan, prep., between (cp. MnE between)
betweox, prep., between
bidan, verb, to await, experience
biddan, verb, to ask, bid
gebiddan, verb, to pray
bifian, verb, to shake (cp. MnG beben)
bigong, noun, m., worship
bill, noun, n., sword (poet., cp. MnG Beil)
bisgu, noun, f., occupation (cp. MnE busy)
bitan, verb, to bite
blac, adj., pale (cp. MnE bleak)
blawan, verb, to blow
blæc, adj., black
blæd, noun, m., glory
bletsian, verb, to bless
blod, noun, n., blood
boc, noun, f., book
bodian, verb, to preach (cp. MnE to bode)
bolster, noun, n., pillow (cp. MnE bolster)
bricg, noun, f., bridge
brim, noun, n., sea (poet.)
broga, noun, m., terror, danger
broþor, noun, m., brother
brucan, verb, to use, enjoy, benefit from (cp. L fruor, MnG gebrauchen)
brun, adj., brown, black, purple, red (cp. MnE brown)
brytta, noun, m., distributor, one who hands out (poet.)
burh, noun, f., stronghold, enclosure (cp. MnE borough, MnG Burg)
butan, prep., without, except, but
byrgan, verb, to bury
bysig, adj., busy
bysmor, noun, m., disgrace, mockery
casere, noun, m., emperor (cp. MnE Caesar, MnG Kaiser)
ceald, adj., cold
geceapian, verb, to buy (cp. MnE cheap)
ceaster, noun, f., town (cp. L castrum, MnE -chester, eg. Manchester, Winchester)
cempa, noun, m., warrior
cicen, noun, n., chicken
cirice, noun, f., church (cp. MedGr kuriakon)
clipian, verb, to call
clyppan, verb, to embrace (cp. MnE paperclip)
gecnawan, verb, to recognise, perceive, understand
cniht, noun, m., boy, youth
cringan, verb, to fall, perish (poet., cp. MnE cringe)
cuman, verb, to come
cunnan, verb, to know
cunnian, verb, to find out
cwellan, verb, to kill
cwen, noun, f., woman, queen (cp. MnE gynaecology)
cwic, adj., alive (cp. MnE quick)
cyning, noun, m., king
cyse, noun, m., cheese (cp. L caseum)
cyþan, verb, to make known, inform, reveal
dæd, noun, f., deed
dæg, m., day
dæl, noun, m., part, portion (cp. MnE deal)
dema, noun, m., judge (cp. MnE to deem)
deofol, noun, m. or n., devil
deop, adj., deep
deor, noun, n., wild animal (cp. MnE deer, MnG Tier)
deorc, adj., dark
digol, adj., secret
dom, noun, m., judgement (cp. MnE doom)
don, verb, to do
dream, noun, m., joy, delight
dreogan, verb, to suffer (cp. MnScots adj. driech)
dreor, noun, m. or n., dripping blood (11 occurrences, poet., cp. MnE dreary)
drihten, noun, m., lord
dugan, verb, to be of use (MnG taugen, tüchtig)
duguþ, noun, f., troop of seasoned retainers, mature men (MnG taugen, tüchtig, Tugend)
durran, verb, to dare
duru, noun, f., door
gedwyld, noun, n., heresy, error
dyre, adj., dear (cp. MnG teuer)
dyrne, adj., secret
dysig, adj., foolish (cp. MnE dizzy)
ea, noun, f., river (cp. L aqua)
eac, adv., also
eadig, adj., blessed, happy (Ead-, cp. Christian names Edward, Edwin)
eald, adj., old
ealdor, noun, m., leader, prince (cp. MnE alderman)
ealdor, noun, n., life, age
eallwealda, noun, m., all-ruler, the Lord (poet.)
earfoþ, noun, n., work, hardship (MnE robot, MnG Arbeit)
earm, adj., poor (MnG arm)
ece, adj., eternal
ecg, noun, f., edge, sword
eft, adv., again
ege, noun, m., fear
ellen, noun, n., courage, strength
engel, noun, m., angel
ent, noun, m., giant (cp. Tolkien’s Ents)
eorl, noun, m., nobleman
faran, verb, to go, travel (cp. MnE farewell)
fæder, noun, m., father
fæger, adj., beautiful, pleasant (cp. MnE fair)
, noun, f., virgin, woman
feax, noun, n., hair (cp. Tolkien’s Shadowfax)
fela, pron., many
feond, noun, m., enemy
feor, adj., far
feorh, noun, n., life
ferhþ, noun, m., spirit, mind (poet.)
fleogan, verb, to fly
folde, noun, f., earth, ground
folme, noun, f., hand (MnE palm)
fon, verb, to catch, seize
forhtian, verb, to fear
forlætan, verb, to abandon, let go, neglect
forma, adj., first
forst, noun, m., frost
frætwe, noun, f. pl., ornaments (poet.)
frea, noun, m., lord (poet., cp. MnG Frau)
fremde, adj., strange (cp. MnG fremd)
fremman, verb, to do, perpetrate (cp. MnG fromm)
friþ, noun, m., peace (cp. MnG Frieden)
frod, adj., old, wise (poet., cp. Tolkien’s Frodo)
frofor, noun, f., consolation
fruma, noun, m., beginning
fugol, noun, m., bird (cp. MnE fowl)
fultum, noun, m., help, support
fus, adj., eager
fyr, noun, n., fire
fyren, noun, f., crime, wickedness
galan, verb, to sing (cp. MnE nightingale, to yell)
gamol, adj., old, ancient (poet.) (cp. MnDa gammel, MnG vergammeln)
gan, verb, to go
gar, noun, m., spear (poet., cp. Hrothgar in Beowulf)
gast, noun, m., spirit, soul, angel, ghost
gear, noun, n., year
geard, noun, m., yard, enclosure (cp. Tolkien’s Isengard)
geomor, adj., sad (poet., cp. MnG Jammer)
geond, prep., through, throughout
geong, adj., young
georn, adj., eager (cp. MnE to yearn, MnG gerne)
giedd, noun, n., word, speech, riddle (poet., cp. MnE to gather)
giefu, noun, f., gift
giet, adv., yet, still
gif, conj., if
gioguþ, noun, f., youth, young people
gnornian, verb, to mourn
god, adj., good
god, noun, m., God

grædig, adj., greedy
griþ, noun, n., truce
guma, noun, m., man (poet., cp. MnE ?bridegroom, MnG Bräutigam)
guþ, noun, f., battle, war (poet.)
gylp, noun, m., boast, pride (cp. MnE to yelp)
gyse, adv., yes
habban, verb, to have
hal, adj., safe, unhurt (cp. MnE whole)
halig, adj., holy
ham, noun, m., home
hat, adj., hot
hatan, verb, to command, order, call, name (cp. MnG heissen)
hælan, verb, to heal
Hælend, noun, m., Saviour (cp. MnG Heiland)
hæleþ, noun, m., hero (poet., cp. MnG Held)
hæþen, adj., heathen
heafod, noun, n., head
heah, adj., high
hearh, noun, m., heathen shrine (cp. place-name Harrow)
heaþorinc, m., warrior (poet.)
helm, noun, m., protection, cover, helmet
heofon, noun, m., heaven
heorot, noun, m., deer, stag (cp. MnE hart, Heorot in Beowulf)
here, noun, m., army (cp. MnG Heer)
hergian, verb, to ravage (cp. MnE to harry)
hild, noun, f., battle (cp. Christian name Hilda)
hlaf, noun, m., bread (cp. MnE loaf)
hlaford, noun, m., lord (cp. OE hlaf, bread, hlaford=hlafweard, the one in charge of the bread)
hlæw, noun, m., mound, barrow (cp. place-names Lewes, Wilmslow, Ludlow)
hleo, noun, n., protection, shelter
holt, noun, n., wood, forest (cp. MnG Holz)
hord, noun, n., hoard
hu, adv., how
hund, noun, m., dog (cp. MnE hound)
hus, noun, n., house
hwa, pron., who
hwæt, pron., what
hwær, adv., where
hwæþer, conj., whether
hwelc, pron. and adj., which
hwil, noun, f., while
hycgan, verb, to think, plan
hyge, noun, m., mind, heart, courage (poet., cp. MnDu geheugen, Hygelac in Beowulf)
hyht, noun, m., joy, bliss, hope
hyrde, noun, m., guardian, keeper (cp. MnE shepherd)
hyse, noun, m., warrior (poet.)
ic, pron., I
ides, noun, f., lady (poet.)
ilca, adj. and pron., same (cp. MnE ilk)
isen, noun, n., iron (cp. MnG Eisen, Tolkien’s Isengard)
lac, noun, n., play, sacrifice, offering (cp. MnE to lark)
laf, noun, f., remnant, what is left (cp. MnE to leave)
lagu, noun, f., law
lar, noun, f., teaching (cp. MnE lore)
laþ, adj., hateful, hostile (cp. MnE loathsome, Tolkien's Lathspell)
læne, adj., temporary, transitory, granted, lent
leas, adj., devoid of (cp. MnE -less)
leax, noun, m., salmon (cp. MnSw gravad lax)
leode, noun, pl., people (cp. MnG Leute)
leof, adj., beloved, dear (cp. MnE love, MnG lieb)
leoht, noun, n., light
leoþ, noun, n., song, poem, poetry (cp. MnG Lied)
lic, noun, n., body (cp. MnG Leiche)
lichama, noun, m., body (cp. MnG Leichnam)
lif, noun, n., life
lind, noun, f., shield (of lindenwood)
lof, noun, n., praise (cp. MnG Lob)
lofgeorn, adj., eager for praise (cp. Beowulf 3182)
lufu, noun, f., love
lyft, noun, f., air, sky, breeze (cp. MnG Luftwaffe)
magan, verb, to be able, can, be competent (cp. MnE may)
man, n., crime
manig, adj., many
mann, n., person, human being
maþelian, verb, to speak (poet.)
maþm, m., treasure
mæg, noun, m., kinsman
mægen, n., strength, power, army (cp. MnE main)
mægþ, noun, f., maiden
mære, adj., famous, glorious, notorious (cp. MnG Märchen)
mearc, noun, f., boundary, region, border (cp. MnE Denmark)
mearh, m., horse (cp. MnE mare)
mece, noun, m., sword (poet.)
meodo, noun, m., mead (cp. Tolkien’s Meduseld)
meotod, noun, m., creator (poet., literally ‘the measurer’, cp. MnE meted out)
mere, noun, m., pool, lake
micel, adj., great, large, much
mid, prep., with, amid, among
middangeard, noun, m., world, middle earth (cp. Tolkien’s middle earth)
miht, noun, f., might
mod, noun, n., spirit, courage, mind (cp. MnE mood)
modig, adj., brave, bold, arrogant (cp. MnE moody)
modor, noun, f., mother
mona, noun, m., moon
morþor, noun, n., crime, violence, torment (cp. MnE murder, Tolkien’s Mordor)
motan, verb, to may, be allowed to (cp. MnE must)
mund, noun, f., hand, protection (cp. MnG Vormund)
gemynd, noun, n., mind, remembrance
mynster, noun, n., monastery, church (cp. MnE minster)]
nædre, noun, f., snake, serpent
næss, noun, m., headland, bluff (cp. Fife Ness)
neah, adj., near
neorxnawang, noun, m., Paradise (OE wang, noun, m., field)
niman, verb, to take (cp. MnE numb, MnG nehmen)
niþ, noun, m., hatred, malice, trouble (cp. MnG Neid)
genog, adj., enough
nu, adv., now
nytt, noun, f., use, utility (cp. MnG Nutzen, MnDu nuttig)
ofer, prep., over
ofermod, noun, n., pride, arrogance, overconfidence (cp. The Battle of Maldon 89)
offrian, verb, to offer
oft, adv., often
onfon, verb, to receive, accept, take up (cp. MnG empfangen)
ongean, adv., back, again
ongietan, verb, to understand, perceive
onginnan, verb, to begin
ord, noun, m., point, spear, vanguard
oþer, adj., other
oþ þæt, conj., until
oþþe, conj., or
pæþ, noun, m., path
penig, noun, m., penny
preost, noun, m., priest (cp. MedL presbyter)
rand, noun, m., shield, shield-boss (poet.)
ræd, noun, m., advice (cp. MnG Rat)
rædan, verb, to read, instruct, give counsel, rule
gereord, noun, n., speech, voice
rice, noun, n., kingdom (cp. MnE bishopric, MnG Reich)
rice, adj., powerful, great (cp. MnE rich)
rinc, noun, m., man, warrior (poet.)
rod, noun, f., rood, cross
rodor, noun, m., sky, heaven
run, noun, f., secret meditation (cp. MnG raunen)
sacu, noun, f., battle
samod, adv., together, too, at the same time
sar, adj., sore
sarig, adj., sorrowful (cp. MnE sorry)
sawol, noun, f., soul
, noun, f. and m., sea
sceadu, noun, f., shadow
scealc, noun, m., man, warrior (cp. MnE marshal=officer of state)
sceat, noun, m., surface, region (cp. MnE sheet)
sceatt, noun, m., money, payment (cp. MnE scotfree)
sceþþan, verb, to injure (cp. MnE scathing)
sceawian, verb, to see, look at (cp. MnE to show, MnG schauen)
scieppan, verb, to create (cp. MnG schöpfen)
sculan, verb, to must, have to (cp. MnE shall, should)
se, seo, þæt, pron., the
secan, verb, to seek
secg, noun, m., man, warrior (poet.)
secgan, verb, to say
sefa, noun, m., heart (poet.)
sele, noun, m., hall, house (poet.)
sellan, verb, to give, sell
sendan, verb, to send, throw, hurl, cause to go
seon, verb, to see
gesib, adj., related (cp. MnE sibling)
sibb, noun, f., peace (cp. MnE gossip)
sige, noun, m., victory (cp. Christian name Siegfried, MnG Sieg)
simle, adv., always
sinc, noun, n., treasure
singal, adj., perpetual
siþ, noun, m., journey, fate, lot, venture
siþþan, adv., since, afterwards, later
slean, verb, to strike, beat (cp. MnE slay)
smeagan, verb, to think, examine
snottor, adj., wise (poet.)
sona, adv., immediately, soon
sorg, noun, f., sorrow, grief, trouble
soþ, adj., true (cp. MnE sooth)
sped, noun, f., success, quickness (cp. MnE good speed, Godspeed, MnG sputen)
spell, noun, n., story, message (cp. MnE gospel, OE god + spel=good message, Tolkien's Lathspell)
sprecan, verb, to speak (cp. MnG sprechen)
stan, noun, m., stone
stefn, noun, f., voice (cp. MnG Stimme)
stow, noun, f., place (cp. place-names Felixstowe, Walthamstow)
stræl, noun, m. or f., arrow (cp. MnG Strahl)
sum, adj. and pron., a, a certain, some
gesund, adj., unharmed, whole, uncorrupted (cp. MnE sound)
sunne, noun, f., sun
sunu, noun, m., son
swa, adv., so, thus
sweart, adj., dark, black (cp. MnE swarthy)
swefn, noun, n., dream
swelc, adj., such
sweord, noun, n., sword
sweostor, noun, f., sister
sweotol, adj., clear, manifest
swincan, verb, labour, toil, struggle
swiþe, adv., very, greatly
symbel, noun, n., feast
syn, noun, f., crime, sin
teon, verb, to draw, drag (cp. MnG ziehen)
tid, noun, f., time (cp. MnE tide)
til, adj., good
tir, noun, m., glory (cp. MnG Zier)
torht, adj., bright
treow, noun, n., tree
treow, noun, f., faith, trust, loyalty (cp. MnE truth)
tun, noun, m., town, village
tungol, noun, n., star
twegen, num., two (cp. MnE twain, Mark Twain)
tweo, noun, m., doubt, uncertainty
þa, adv. and conj., then, when
þær, adv. and conj., there, where
þeah, adv., though
þeaw, noun, m., custom, practice
þegn, noun, m., thane, nobleman, retainer, warrior
þeod, noun, f., people, nation (cp. MnG Deutsch, Dietrich)
geþeode, noun, n., language
þeoden, noun, m., prince, lord (cp. Tolkien’s king of Rohan)
þeow, noun, m., slave, servant (cp. Wealhtheow in Beowulf)
þolian, verb, to suffer
þonne, adv., then
þrowian, verb, to suffer
þrym, noun, m., glory
þurfan, verb, to need
þurh, prep., through
uhta, noun, m. or f., period just before dawn (cp. MnDu ochtend)
uncuþ, adj., unknown, strange (cp. MnE uncouth)
ut, adv., out
wæl, noun, n., slaughter, carnage (cp. MnE Valkyrie)
wæstm, noun, m., fruit
wealdan, verb, wield, control (cp. MnE to wield, MnG Walter, Gewalt)
wealdend, noun, m., ruler, Lord
weard, noun, m., guardian (cp. MnE ward)
weaxan, verb, to grow (cp. MnE to wax)
wen, noun, f., expectation, hope (cp. MnG Wahnsinn)
wendan, verb, to go, turn, translate, change (cp. MnE to wend one’s way, Butts Wynd)
weorþan, verb, to become, happen (cp. MnG werden)
wer, noun, m., man (cp. MnE werewolf, L vir)
werod, noun, n., troop, company
wic, noun, n., abode (cp. place-names Ipswich, Norwich, Greenwich)
wif, noun, n., woman, wife
wig, noun, n., war, battle
wiga, noun, m., warrior (poet.)
wiht, noun, f. and n., creature, being (cp. MnG Wicht)
willan, verb, to want
wine, noun, m., friend, lord (poet., cp. names Edwin, Godwin)
gewinn, noun, n., war, battle, strife
winnan, verb, to struggle, fight
gewinnan, verb, to conquer, win
wita, noun, m., wise man, counsellor (cp. OE witenagemot, Anglo-Saxon national assembly)
witan, verb, to know
wite, noun, n., punishment
wiþ, prep., against, from, with
wlanc, adj., proud
wolcen, noun, n. or m., cloud, sky (cp. MnG Wolke)
woruld, noun, f., world
wraþ, adj., hostile (cp. MnE wroth)
wræcca, noun, m., wanderer, exile
wrecan, verb, to avenge
writan, verb, to write (cp. MnG ritzen)
wudu, noun, m., wood, forest, tree
wuldor, noun, n., glory
wundor, noun, n., wonder, miracle
wunian, verb, to dwell (cp. MnG wohnen)
wynn, noun, f., joy (cp. MnE winsome)
wyrcan, verb, to make, form, produce
wyrd, noun, f., fate, event (cp. MnE weird)
wyrm, noun, m., worm, serpent
wyrt, noun, f., herb, plant, vegetable (cp. MnE wort)
yfel, adj., evil (cp. MnG übel)
ymb, prep., about, concerning
yrmþu, noun, f., hardship
yrre, noun, n., anger
, noun, f., wave

(Video) The origins of English: A short introduction to Old English

(Video) Pronouncing some Anglo-Saxon Words


What was the approximate vocabulary of Old English? ›

The Thesaurus of Old English (TOE), with which you will be working, contains almost 34,000 different word forms, whereas a modern desk dictionary might contain 80,000. Some of these words have more than one meaning, i.e. they are polysemous: TOE contains just over 50,000 meanings altogether.

What are the 850 words of Basic English? ›

I , ice , idea , if , ill , important , impulse , in , increase , industry , ink , insect , instrument , insurance , interest , invention , iron , island . jelly , jewel , join , journey , judge , jump . keep , kettle , key , kick , kind , kiss , knee , knife , knot , knowledge .

How many words of Old English survive in modern English? ›

In numerical terms, the total number of English words of native Anglo-Saxon origin in use today is around 4,500. Which may seem a small number in a language which counts some 130,000 words in total current use. But most significantly, these 4,500 comprise the fundamental basis of English and, indeed, its grammar too.

How many words are in the Basic English core vocabulary? ›

This is a list of the 850 words in the Basic English core vocabulary. These words all denote simple concepts commonly used in everyday life.

What is the 7 in Old English? ›

Etymology. From Middle English seven, from Old English seofon (“seven”), from Proto-West Germanic *sebun (“seven”), from Proto-Germanic *sebun (“seven”), from Proto-Indo-European *septḿ̥ (“seven”).

How can I estimate my English vocabulary? ›

To find your vocabulary, count how many words you know among the words numbered 1 through 40, and multiply by 150. Then count the number of words that you know among words 41 through 70 and multiply by 600. Add the two subtotals together and this is your vocabulary.

Can I learn 100 English words a day? ›

But you can certainly learn 100 words in a day. Sure, you can't learn everything you could ever need to know about these 100 words, and memorise all that information, but you can certainly get a basic understanding of 100 words in a day.

How many words are enough for fluent English? ›

Some linguists believe that 800 words are enough to hold a basic conversation. However, your vocabulary should be over 8,000 words if you want to speak a language as well as a native speaker.

Is 3000 words enough for speaking English? ›

People who know 250 to 500 words are beginners. Those who know 1,000 to 3,000 words can carry on everyday conversations. Knowing 4,000 to 10,000 words makes people advanced language users while knowing more than 10,000 words puts them at the fluent or native-speaker levels.

What percentage of English words come from Old English? ›

A significant portion of the English vocabulary comes from Romance and Latinate sources. Estimates of native words (derived from Old English) range from 20%–33%, with the rest made up of outside borrowings.

What is Oldest Old English word that is still in use today? ›

According to a 2009 study by researchers at Reading University, the oldest words in the English language include “I“, “we“, “who“, “two” and “three“, all of which date back tens of thousands of years.

What is the oldest English word that is still in use? ›

Scientists at the University of Reading have discovered that 'I', 'we', 'who' and the numbers '1', '2' and '3' are amongst the oldest words, not only in English, but across all Indo-European languages.

How many vocab words do you need to be fluent? ›

An advanced speaker of a language is also categorized as fluent. Fluency means you've reached 10,000+ words and have reached the highest level of mastering a language without being a native speaker.

How many words you should know for C1 English? ›

The C1 Advanced Reading and Use of English paper is in eight parts and has a mix of text types and questions. Lengths of texts: 3,000–3,500 words to read in total.

How much vocabulary is enough for bank exams? ›

How many questions from vocabulary can be expected in the Bank exams? You can expect around 4-8 questions from vocabulary in bank exam prelims. But in the Mains exams, you can expect somewhere between 8-15 questions from the vocabulary. You need to prepare in a focused way to score well in this section.

What is the rarest letter? ›

The rarest letters in English are j, q, x, and z.

How do you say 19 in Old English? ›

Four to NineteenEdit
  1. fēoƿer - four.
  2. fīf - five.
  3. siex - six.
  4. seofon - seven.
  5. eahta - eight.
  6. nigon - nine.
  7. tīen - ten.
  8. endleofan - eleven.

What is 40 called in English? ›

Forty (40) is the number that follows 39 and precedes 41. Though it's related to the number “four” (4), the modern spelling of 40 is forty. The older form, fourty, is treated as a misspelling today. The modern spelling could reflect a historical pronunciation change.

Is B2 English level good? ›

Level B2 corresponds to a more advanced, more independent level than previous levels. A B2 user can communicate easily and spontaneously in a clear and detailed manner. This is not yet an experienced speaker, but a B2 user is able to understand and be understood in most situations.

How many words does a C1 speaker know? ›

When you reach C1, you should have a working vocabulary of about 8000 words – almost double that of B2! It takes approximately 700-800 hours with the language to pass the C1 Cambridge examination.

Is English B1 level good? ›


Is able to understand the main points of clear texts in standard language if they are about topics with which they are familiar, whether in work, study or leisure contexts. Can cope with most of the situations that might arise on a trip to areas where the language is used.

Does English have the richest vocabulary? ›

Number of words in the English language: 500,000 according to the number of words in the Oxford English Dictionary.

What is the newest word in the English language 2022? ›

Our Favorite Merriam-Webster Dictionary Additions for 2022
  • Because (conjunction) ...
  • TBH (abbreviation) ...
  • Fluffernutter (n) ...
  • Amirite (interjection) ...
  • Copypasta (n) ...
  • Deplatform (v) ...
  • Whataboutism (n) ...
  • FTW (abbreviation)
22 Mar 2022

Can I speak English fluently in 30 days? ›

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix or easy go-to solution to learn English in 30 days. However, you can vastly improve your English language skills with a little bit of motivation and a lot of dedication. You won't be fluent in English in 30 days - but you could be a lot closer to your goal than you are today.

Is 1000 words enough in English? ›

Remember that 300 to 600 words may be enough to travel, but at least 1,000 words are necessary for a conversation. The most important thing is not knowing how many words you need to speak a language, but which words to know. To begin, choose the most common words to maximize your progress and avoid wasting time.

How many words does a B2 speaker know? ›

Level B2: Basic Fluency

Reaching B2 is generally considered by most people as having basic fluency. You'll have a working vocabulary of around 4000 words.

Can I be fluent in English in 3 months? ›

You will not be able to speak English perfectly after 3 months. But, it's likely you won't speak English perfectly after 3 years, or even 30 years, either. After 3 months, you should expect to make mistakes, but you should be confident that you will be understood.

What is the average vocabulary of an English person? ›

According to lexicographer and dictionary expert Susie Dent, “the average active vocabulary of an adult English speaker is around 20,000 words, while his passive vocabulary is around 40,000 words.”

What is the average English vocabulary size? ›

Most adult native test-takers range from 20,000–35,000 words. Average native test-takers of age 8 already know 10,000 words.

Is 100 words enough to speak a language? ›

Looking at the figures given in the previous paragraph, we can see that 100 words will not be enough to express yourself in any language, no matter how briefly. Let's take a look at this analytically by applying the 80/20 rule (also called Pareto's law), to the use of languages.

What two languages make up 60% of English words? ›

Over 60 percent of all English words have Greek or Latin roots.

What is the hardest language to learn? ›

Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

How much of English is actually English? ›

Around 80% of words in the English dictionary are borrowed from other languages, mainly Latin – in fact it's thought that over 60% of all English words have classical Latin or Greek roots. Today, many terms used in the science and technology industries (over 90%) have Latin roots.

What is the shortest word? ›

The shortest word is a. Some might wonder about the word I since it consists of one letter, too. In sound, a is shorter because it is a monophthong (consists of one vowel), while I is a diphthong.

What's the oldest swear word? ›

Fart, as it turns out, is one of the oldest rude words we have in the language: Its first record pops up in roughly 1250, meaning that if you were to travel 800 years back in time just to let one rip, everyone would at least be able to agree upon what that should be called.

What is the first word ever spoken? ›

Also according to Wiki answers,the first word ever uttered was “Aa,” which meant “Hey!” This was said by an australopithecine in Ethiopia more than a million years ago.

What was the first human word? ›

Mother, bark and spit are some of the oldest known words, say researchers. Continue reading → Mother, bark and spit are just three of 23 words that researchers believe date back 15,000 years, making them the oldest known words.

How much of a language can you understand with 3000 words? ›

3000 words allow you to understand about 95% of most ordinary texts (Hazenberg and Hulstijn, 1996). It seems like a lot. Sure, on this level, you will be able to hold a decent conversation.

How many words can an average person Memorise? ›

The average is about 7 items, plus or minus 2, depending on the individual. You can easily confirm this by reading someone a series of words that have no connection with one another, then asking this person to repeat them. Start with 1 word, then 2 different words, then 3 different words, and so on.

How much vocabulary is enough for a day? ›

Research shows the average person speaks at least 7,000 words a day, with many speaking much more than that. Think about what that means to you. Those 7,000 words (at least) you speak each day are your imprint on the world. They dictate how people perceive you – and largely define you.

Is B2 fluent or C1? ›

Difference between B2 and C1

Based on a CEFR scale, the B2 level corresponds to the term being fluent. If a learner is fluent in their target language, then they know between 5,000 and 10,000 words in that language. As for the C1 level, it corresponds to being proficient in the target language.

Is fluent C1 or C2? ›

Level C1 corresponds to users who can express themselves fluently and spontaneously.

Is C1 level fluent? ›


He/she can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for the right expression. He/she can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.

Which paper is best for vocabulary? ›

Newspapers that can enhance your vocabulary for competitive exams
  • The Indian Express. Indian Express is also a leading English daily. ...
  • Times of India. Times of India is like a darling newspaper for those who want a wrap of everything. ...
  • The Statesman. ...
  • Hindustan Times.

How can I score good marks in vocabulary? ›

15 tips to get more marks in Reading comprehension passage.
  1. Eliminate the words or phrases. ...
  2. Find your strengths first. ...
  3. Improve Your Vocabulary: ...
  4. Use a pen while reading: ...
  5. Do a mental math quickly: ...
  6. Most Reading Comprehensions are complex: ...
  7. Focus: ...
  8. Improve reading Speed:

Is 5 Months enough for bank exams? ›

In total, you have to cover 5 months of current affairs for the particular exam. Currently, upcoming bank exams are IBPS PO, IBPS Clerk, IBPS RRB Mains, and IBPS SO in which the General Awareness section is asked.

How long was Shakespeare's vocabulary? ›

In 1986 McCrum et al. said this to a Public Broadcasting System audience of millions: Shakespeare had one of the largest vocabularies of any English writer, some 30,000 words. (Estimates of an educated person's vocabulary today vary, but it is probably about half this, 15,000)' (2002 [1986], 102).

What is the percentage of words which are from Old English? ›

A significant portion of the English vocabulary comes from Romance and Latinate sources. Estimates of native words (derived from Old English) range from 20%–33%, with the rest made up of outside borrowings.

What was the average vocabulary during Shakespearean times? ›

"Fact: People in Shakespeare's time had working vocabularies of around 54,000 words....

How long was Old English spoken? ›

Old English – the earliest form of the English language – was spoken and written in Anglo-Saxon Britain from c. 450 CE until c. 1150 (thus it continued to be used for some decades after the Norman Conquest of 1066).

What level of English is Shakespeare? ›

The language in which Shakespeare wrote is referred to as Early Modern English, a linguistic period that lasted from approximately 1500 to 1750. The language spoken during this period is often referred to as Elizabethan English or Shakespearian English.

What is the vocabulary of the average person? ›

Most adult native test-takers have a vocabulary range of about 20,000-35,000 words. Adult native test-takers learn almost 1 new word a day until middle age. Vocabulary growth stops at middle age.

What is the oldest English word we still use? ›

According to a 2009 study by researchers at Reading University, the oldest words in the English language include “I“, “we“, “who“, “two” and “three“, all of which date back tens of thousands of years.

How many words are in the average British vocabulary? ›

According to a recently conducted study by The Economist, most adult native speakers of the English language, who took their vocabulary test, have a range from 20,000 to 35,000 words. The average of native test-takers of the age 8 was 10,000 words and 4-year-olds have already a considerate amount of 5,000 words.

Which accent is closest to Old English? ›

The West Country includes the counties of Gloucestershire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, and the dialect is the closest to the old British language of Anglo-Saxon, which was rooted in Germanic languages – so, true West Country speakers say I be instead of I am, and Thou bist instead of You are, which is very ...

What language is closest to Old English? ›

Old English is one of the West Germanic languages, and its closest relatives are Old Frisian and Old Saxon.


1. The origins of English: A short introduction to Old English
(Dr Thijs Porck)
2. 800 English Words for Everyday Life - Basic Vocabulary #40
(Learn English with EnglishClass101.com)
3. English for babies and toddlers (0-3 years) - Basic vocabulary
(Baby Nenes)
4. Where did English come from? - Claire Bowern
5. Old Norse Influence on Northern English
(Simon Roper)
6. 440 English Words for Everyday Life - Basic Vocabulary #22
(Learn English with EnglishClass101.com)
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