WA sparth, pl. sparrethis, sparthys

'battle-axe' (Modern English sparth)


The only close analogue is in ON, cp. OIcel sparða ‘kind of (Irish) axe’, usually explained as a loan from an Ir word cited as OIr sparth; it has been suggested that the Irish word in turn derives from ON, cp. OIcel barða ‘kind of axe’.  But in fact there is no independent evidence for the existence of such an Ir word, 'OIr sparth' apparently having been invented by Falk (1914: 112), and the ulterior etymology of the ON form is therefore best regarded as obscure; see further Dance.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

sparða ‘kind of (Irish) axe’
(ONP sparða (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Icel sparða

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



First attested in 13c. Anglo-Latin texts with a variety of forms (inc. sparth, spart, sparht, sparcha), then in a range of English texts from the 14c. 

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 209; WA1403, 2458


MED sparth(e (n.) , OED sparth (n.1) , HTOED , Dance sparþe, Bj. 165, 255