Field-Names: An abbreviated corpus glossary complete with medieval picture

In case anyone is looking for it, the (very trimmed down) glossary specific to my thesis on medieval field-names in the English Midlands is right here.  I’ve included a picture that may or may not be of any help/interest, but I haven’t yet converted every OE (Old English) character that needs converting.  That’ll be tomorrow’s project.

Calendar page for July: Farm workers scything.

A glossary of p.n./f.n. elements from the corpus
æ þ ð ā ē ō ū ȳ Æ Þ Ð ī

æcer OE, amount of land tillable by a yoke of oxen in one day; ‘a plot of arable or cultivated land, a measure of land (an acre) which a yoke of oxen could plough in a day’;

ald OE (Angl), eald (kt, WSax), adj., ‘old’.

beonet OE ‘bent grass’

beorg, burh, berg (Barroacr’) OE ‘a hill, a mound’

blæc (blacan wk. obl.) OE adj., ‘black, dark-coloured, dark’

bōth ODan, ‘a booth, a temporary shelter’

botm, *boðm OE, ‘a bottom, a valley bottom’

brād (brādan wk. obl.) OE adj. ‘broad, spacious’

brēc OE (Angl, Kt), braēc (WSax), brēche ME, ‘breaking, breach, land broken up for cultivation’

brēr OE (Angl) ‘briar’


brōc OE, ‘a brook, a stream’

brōm OE ‘broom’

būr OE ‘a cottage, a dwelling’

burna OE, ‘a spring, a stream’

butte ME, ‘a strip of land abutting on a boundary’, also ‘a short strip or ridge at right angles to other ridges, a short strip ploughed in the angle where two furlongs meet’

cald OE (Angl), ceald (Kt, WSax), kaldr ON, cald, cold ME, adj., ‘cold’

clæg OE ‘clay, clayey soil’

clif (clifu, cliefu, cleofu OE, klif ON, ‘a cliff, a bank’

cnoll OE ‘a hill-top, the summit of a large hill’, later ‘a knoll, a hillock’, freq. in f.ns.

cot neut. (cote, cotu, cote fem. (cotan, (cotum OE, ‘a cottage, a hut, a shelter, a den’

cress/cresse OE ‘cress’ v. caerse

croft OE ‘a small enclosed field’, dial. croft ‘a small enclosure of arable or pasture land’ and in the NCy often ‘such an enclosure near a house’

cros OIr, kross ON, cros late OE, ME, ‘a cross, the Cross’

crumb OE ‘crooked, twisted, bent’ (esp. in a river or stream); cramb OE ‘land in the bend of a river’

crymel OE, ‘a small piece (of land or water)’, ‘something crumbled’, possibly also in the later sense of ModE crumble ‘fine debris’.

dēop OE, djupr ON, adj., ‘deep’, especially with words for ‘valley’, ‘water’, and ‘ford’.

dīc OE, ‘a ditch’, was used in OE chiefly of ‘an excavated trench’

docce (doccan obl., doccena OE, ‘dock, a dock’

dryge OE adj., ‘dry, dried up’

ecg OE, ‘an edge’, most often in p.ns. of ‘the sharp edge at the top of a hill, esp. an escarpment’

ende OE, aende (ESax), endi ON, ‘end, the end of something, the end of an estate, a district or quarter of a village or town’

eng ON, ‘meadow, pasture’

feld OE, ‘open country’ (see full entry EPNE)

flat, flot ON, ‘a piece of flat level ground’

fox OE, ‘a fox’

furlang, forlong OE, ‘the length of a furrow, a furlong, a piece of land the length of a furrow’

geard OE, ‘a fence, an enclosure, a yard, a courtyard’

græfe OE, ‘a grove, copse, thicket’

gráf, gráfa, gráfe OE, ‘a grove, copse’,

grēne (grénan wk. obl.), groenn ON, adj., ‘green, young, growing’

hæc(c) OE (Angl, WSax), hec(c) (Kt, Merc), ‘a hatch, a grating, a half-gate, a gate’

(ge)hæg OE, (ge)heg (Kt, Merc), hay ME, ‘a fence, an enclosure’

halh (hale, halas, healas, halum, healum OE (Angl), healh (heale (Kt, WSax), ‘a nook, a corner of land, a water-meadow’./ ‘a secluded hollow in a hill-side’ or ‘a small steep valley on the side of a larger one’, but most commonly ‘a remote narrow valley’

hālig (halgan wk.obl.) OE adj., ‘holy, sacred, dedicated to sacred use’

hall OE (Angl), heall (Kt, WSax), ‘a hall, a large residence, a manor house, a place for legal and other public business and in later dial. ‘a farm-house’

hangende OE pres.part., ‘hanging’

hēafod OE, ‘a head’, ‘the upper end or top of something, a hill, an eminence, the end of a ridge’, esp. when combined with topographical els. denoting ‘hill’ and the like; ‘a headland, a spit of land round which a river flows’

hēah OE ‘high’; ‘high, in lofty position’, ‘tall, long’, cliffs, banks, posts, etc.; ‘chief, important’ 2. ‘a high place, a height’

hlæfdige OE, levedi, lavedi, ladi ME, ‘lady, a nun, Our Lady’; in f.ns. it is used of land dedicated to the Virgin.

hlāw, hlaew OE, ‘a mound, a hill’; common literary contexts meaning ‘an artificial mound, a burial mound, a mound in which treasure is hidden’, also ‘hill, a conical hill resembling a tumulus’

hol holh, OE, hol ON, ‘a hole, a hollow’

holegn OE, ‘holly’

hors OE, ‘a horse’

hungor OE, ‘hunger, famine, usually as a term of reproach in allusion to ‘barren ground’

hwæ-te OE ‘wheat’

hwit OE adj., ‘white’

hyll OE, ‘a hill, a natural eminence or elevated piece of ground’

hyrst OE (Angl, WSax), herst (Kt), ‘a hillock, a copse’. The attested meanings of hyrst are: ‘ a hillock, a bank’, ‘ a copse, a wood, a wooded eminence’ and in ME ‘a sandbank’

intak ON, ‘a piece of land taken in or enclosed’

kjarr ON, ‘brushwood’

(ge)lād OE, ‘a water-course, a passage over a river or stream’
læ-s OE, ‘pasture, meadow-land’

land, lond OE, land ON, ‘land’. This el. has in p.ns. a variety of meanings of which the principal ones are: ‘a part of the earth’s surface (as distinct from water), earth, soil, dry land’; a tract of land of considerable extent’ as in county or regional names; ‘an estate or smaller tract of land’, which is no doubt the common one in p.ns.; ‘a strip of arable land in a common-field’

(lane, lone) lanu OE, ‘a lane, a narrow road’

lang (langan wk. obl.) OE adj., langr ON adj., ‘long’, in p.ns. usually means ‘extending over a great distance’

lēah OE masc., lēah OE fem. ‘a wood, a clearing in a wood’

leme ME, ‘an artificial water-course’

hlot OE, allotment, ‘a lot, a share, an allotment’; ‘a piece of land assigned by lot’

lȳtel, lytel, litel OE adj., litill ON adj., ‘little, small’

mæ-d (maedwe, maedwa, maedwum OE (WSax), mēd (Angl, Kt), ‘a meadow’, orginally ‘a piece of meadowland kept for mowing’

mersc, merisc OE, ‘watery land, a marsh’

micel OE adj., ‘big, great’

middel (midlan wk.obl) OE adj., ‘middle’, midlest OE adj. sup ‘middlemost’

munuc OE, monke ME, ‘a monk’

myln, mylen OE (Angl, WSax), meln (Kt), ‘a mill’

park Ofr, ME, ‘an enclosed tract of land for beasts of the chase’

persone OFr, ME, ‘a parson, a beneficed cleric’

pie-2 OFr, ME, ‘a magpie’

pil-āte OE, ‘pill-oats’ cf. ME pilcorn.

pingel ME, ‘a small enclosure’

pise (pisan), pisu, peosu OE, ‘pease, peas’

ruh OE adj., ‘rough’

rydding OE, ‘a clearing’

OE, *sa (EAngl), sáer ON, ‘a sea a lake’.

scēap OE (WSax), scēp (Angl, Kt, late WSax), ‘a sheep’

sīc OE, ‘a small stream, esp. one in a flat marshland;, sik ON, ‘a ditch, a trench’; cf. dial. sike, sitch. In p.ns. sic was often used of a stream that formed a boundary and so came to denote ‘a field, a piece of meadow along a stream’

smið ON, ‘a smith, a worker in metal’

solum, dat. pl. of sol ‘dirty place’, OE ‘mud, slough, a wallowing place’

spring, spryng OE, ‘a spring, a well, the source of a stream’

stān OE, ‘a stone, stone, rock’, has a variety of applications in p.ns. Its common meanings include: ‘rock, stone’ in allusion to the character of the ground, esp. when used as a first el. (almost with the adj. function ‘stony, rocky’

stede, styde OE, ‘a place, a site, a locality’.

stigel, -ol OE, ‘a stile, a place devised for climbing over a fence’, probably also on topographical grounds ‘a steep ascent’

stubbing*, OE adj., ‘a place where trees have been stubbed, a clearing’

swin OE, svin ON, ‘a swine, a pig’

topp OE, ‘top, the top of a bank or hill’

toft, topt (ON); archaeology of ancient building site

torr OE, ‘a rock, a rocky outcrop, a rocky peak’

tūn OE, ‘an enclosure, a farmstead, an estate, a village’, tún ON, ‘an enclosure, a farmstead’

þorn OE, ON, ‘a thorn-tree, the hawthorn’; cf. also blaec-, lús-.

wælla, waelle OE, (Merc) ‘a well, a spring’, also seen as wall, walle v. wella.

wall OE (Angl), weall (Kt, WSax), ‘a wall’

weg OE, ‘a way, a path, a road’, but not usually an urban road; it denotes a great variety of tracks, from one used by animals to a great Roman road like the Fosse Way or the ancient British track of Icknield Way.

wilig OE (Angl), welig (WSax), ‘a willow’.

wulf (wulfes, wulfa OE, ‘a wolf’


2 thoughts on “Field-Names: An abbreviated corpus glossary complete with medieval picture

    1. I wouldn’t say proficient, but if I were to visit Angla-Lond, say for a couple of months, I think I could make my way around. Order a beverage, ask for some books, that kind of thing. 🙂

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