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  • noun [ masculine ]
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Wright's OE grammar
a divinity, god, the Anglo-Saxon form of a word whose existence in Gothic is inferred from a passage in Jornandes, 'Gothi proceres suos quasi qui fortuna vincebant non pares homines sed semideos, id est, Anses vocavere.' The Icelandic, which throws out n before s, as the Anglo-Saxon does (cf. Icel. gás: A. S. gós), has áss; pl. æsir, a term which has an application in the opening chapters of the Yngling Saga very similar to that attributed to anses among the Goths: Odin, Thor, and other personages of the Scandinavian mythology are the Æsir. Particularly apparently did the term refer to Thor, so that the proper name Ás-björn is used as the equivalent of Þor-björn. As the first part of Scandinavian proper names it occurs frequently, and it is in the same dependent character that it mostly, if not exclusively, is found in Anglo-Saxon and O. H. German. Thus Ós-beorn, Ós-lác, Ós-wine, Ós-weald preserve the word which is found in Ás-björn, Ás-lákr, Ás-mundr, and this is certainly the independent áss. The O. H. Ger. Ans-gár shews the same word. Whether ós in the sense of god occurs as an independent word is doubtful. It is the name of the Rune RUNE, which in the Runic poem is accompanied by the following verse
Show examples
  • 'Ós byþ ordfruma ǽlcre sprǽce Wísdómes wraðu and witena frófur And eorla gehwam eádnís and tóhyht.' Runic pm. Kmbl. 340,

      5-10; Rún. 4.

    Kemble translates ós by mouth (as if the Latin word had been taken?), but if the verse is old, the reference might be to Woden. Cf. the account of Óðinn in the Yngfinga Saga: þar þóttust Ódins menn eiga ale traust, er hann var, c. 2. Óðinn var göfgastr af öllum, ok af honum námu þeir allir íþróttirnar: því at hann kunni fyrst allar ok þó fiestar. . . . Hann ok hofgoðar hans heita ljóðasmiðir, því at sfi íþrótt hófst af þeim í norðrlöndum, c. 6. See also c. 7, and Salm. Kmbl. p. 192: Saga mé hwá ǽrost bócstafas sette? Ic ðe secge Mercurius ( = Woden) se gygand. Further in Lchdm. iii. 54, in a charm, occurs a genitive pl. ésa :-- Gif hit wǽre ésa gescot, oððe hit wǽre ylfa gescot, oððe hit wǽre hægtessan gescot, nú ic wille ðín helpan. Ðis Ðis ðé tó bóte ésa gescotes, &c. . . . But though on the comparison of other forms, a nom. pl. és might be inferred for Ís, the change of vowel would not occur in the genitive, which should be ósa. Ésa would point to a singular és (cf. ést; Goth. ansts). The meaning however of the word is that given toós . See
      Grmm. D. M. p. 22.
Linked entries
v.  ésa.
Full form


  • ós, n.