Interesting Kennings from Norse Literature

Odin the Allfather was the Viking supreme god in Norse Viking mythology. He was the ruler of Asgard and fathered many great sons including Thor, Baldur, Heimdall, etc

In Old Norse Viking literature, kenning was a trend. It was a way to show off one’s creativeness in word choice as well as a way to challenge other writers during that time. This blog post is to present a list of interesting kennings from Norse literature that can help you fully understand some Norse literature.

What are kennings?

Kennings are the stylistic devices or creative word choices by the Old Norse artists. They would choose other way of expression to refer to their ideas. It is a form of periphrasis referring to something indirectly. So instead of calling out the name of that object, the writers would use another special trait of it to illustrate.

For example, they would not say directly “the king” or “the chieftain”. But they would say: “the golden ring giver”, “the ruler of people on earth” or “the securer of glory” to name but a few.

Lists of interesting kennings

Kennings for animals

WhaleSea-pig
Boar of Vidblindi
WolfGreedy One
Heath-Beast
Stud-Horse
The hound of roaring sea of corpses
Witch-beast
Odin’s Hound
BearGib-cat
Bustler
Roarer
Scratcher
Horse chaser
SerpentDragon
Whale of the heath
Adder
Ring of the Meadow
Lind worm
Eagle Inciter
Storm-shearer
Soarer
RavenCrow
Eagle of Odin
Yearly flier

Kennings for description

GoldFire of the River
Shining light of river
Rain of Draupnir
Lair of Fafnir
Serpent’s flame
Sea-flame
Aegir’s fire
Hair of Sif
Freya’s tears
SilverSnow
Hoar-Frost
Ice
Purse-snow
Snow of Flagous
Brave ManMan of War
Tyr-valiant
Weak ManSheath
Son of wretchedness
Sulker
Feeble one
Dog
Vile one
Generous ManDistributor of Gold
Gold-giver
Prince of men
Greedy ManWealth-hiding
Gift tardy
Calculator
FoolClown
Dolt
Oaf
Wise ManWise in Speech
FashionableGlittering
Noisy ManBrawler
Sheath Cleaner
Fawner
FoeAttacker
Shooter against one
FriendBench fellow
Advisor

Kennings for Gods/Goddesses

OdinAllfather
Hanged Gd
Raven god
Father of the slain
Lord of hosts
God of the slain
High One
Ygg
Son of Borr
Victory Father
Valhalla’s ruler
ThorWarder of Earth
Defender of Asgard
Destroyer of trolls
Earth’s son
Helper of men
BaldurThe Shining God
NjordGod of wealth bestowed
FreyrGod of fertile season
FreyaGullveig
Odr’s girl
Crier of gold
HeimdallSon of Nine Mothers
TyrFosterer of Wolf
One handed god
Feeder of Wolf
BragiMaker of Music and Poetry
VidarSlayer of Fenrir
Silent god
ValiSlayer of Hodr
HodrBaldur’s slayer
UllrHunting god
HoenirCompanion of the swift
LokiEvil companion of Odin
Thief of the giants
Father of monsters

Kennings for war

SwordShining Leak
Blood Snake
Man’s Measure
Heimdall’s Head
Wound Wand
Odin’s Fire
Wand of Battle
Wound flame

Battle
Sport of Freyr
Dinning of Showering Weapons
Storm of Odin
Storm of Sheltering Shields
Spear-Storm Clashing
Tempest Crashing Wind
Clash
Helm Cowl
Shield WallHall and Roof
Wall and Floor
ShieldTent
Sun of the Ship
Moon of the Ship
Ship of Ullr
Hrungnir’s Feet
Land of Weapon
ArrowsWound Bees
Hail of the Bow Hail of Battle
Wound Burst
Sleet of Battle
WeaponsFire of Blood

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