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List of kennings
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List of kennings

A list of kennings follows.

A key to usage is as follows: AS - Anglo-Saxon N - Norse (generic) Ic - Old Icelandic D - Danish S - Swedish Nor - Norwegian G - Germanic Ce - Celtic X - common across all tongues.

Useful sources and references for further studies of kennings:

Meissner's "Die Kenningar der Skalden" (1921)
Snorri Sturlusson Skáldskaparmál

NB: This is an illustrative list and does not pretend to be comprehensive. Kennings relating to a particular character in the relevant literature are associated with the appropriate article, e.g. the article relating to Odin has a list of kennings with which Odin is associated or by which he is known; only the less obvious ones are given beneath.

Kennings
Kennings Primary meaning Secondary/implied/allusive meaning Source languages Documents and sources
Aegir's daughters waves   N  
Baldur's bane mistletoe The kenning derives from the story in which all plants and creatures swore never to harm Baldur, save the mistletoe which was overlooked and which Loki used to bring about Baldur's death by tricking Hodur. N  
blood-ember axe   N Skaldskaparmal
blood-worm sword   N  
breaker of rings King or chieftain Alludes to a ruler breaking the golden rings upon his arm and using them to reward his followers. AS Beowulf
breaker of trees wind   N  
father of the sea thread Loki, the father of Jormagund, the Midgard serpent   N Thorsdrapa
feeder of ravens warrior   N  
flame-farewelled death Implicitly honourable death N  
Freya's tears gold, sometimes amber Derived from the story of when Freya could not find Odr, her husband, the tears she shed were gold, and the trees which her tears fell upon were transmuted into amber. N  
glory-of-elves sun: Alfrodull   N Skirnismal
Grímnir's lip-streams poetry Grímnir is one of the names of Odin N Thorsdrapa
Gunn's horse wolf Gunn is a valkyrie S Rök Stone
Hanged god Odin   N  
Hrugnir's slayer Thor's hammer, Mjollnir   N Lokasenna
ice silver   N  
Kraki's seed gold Can also be used to imply generosity; q.v. Hrolf Kraki N Skaldskaparmal
Lord of the gallows Odin   N  
raven harvest corpse battle-field corpses N  
serpent's lair gold Serpents (and dragons) were reputed to lie upon gold in their nests N Skaldskaparmal
slaughter-dew blood   N  
slayer of giants Thor felli fjörnets gođa flugstalla (source: Thorsdrapa), is a compound kenning. Literally feller of the life webs (fjörnets) of the gods of the flight-edges, i.e. slayer of giants, life webs (fjörnets) is a kenning in its own right since it refers directly to the operations of the Norns in severing lives, flight-edges (flugstalla) being the high and dangerous places inhabited by eagles and hawks, i.e. the icy mountains of Jotunheim. N Thorsdrapa
spear-din battle   N Skaldskaparmal
steed of the billows ship   N  
taming wand sword   N Skirnismal
valley-trout serpent   N Skaldskaparmal
weather of weapons war   N Skaldskaparmal
whale's way the sea   N,AS Beowulf
wolf's father Loki an allusion to Loki's fathering of Fenrir N Lokasenna
wolf's-joint wrist An allusion to Tyr's loss of his hand when fettering the wolf Fenrir Ic - úlfli›r Gylfaginning


Likely kenning
Beowulf (bee-wolf) Bear A very likely kenning for Bodvar Bjarke whose name means "battle bear", and who is the analogue of Beowulf in Scandinavian sources AS Beowulf
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