'without fear' (Modern English aweless, awless)


Formed on ME aue (PDE awe),   cp. OIcel agi ‘dread, awe and; discipline; enmity’, a masc. n-stem formation on PGmc *ag- and further cp. OIcel agalauss ‘peaceful’.  This stem-formative is only known in Scandinavia, in contrast with the declensional types attested in OE, viz. OE ege ‘fear, awe’ (a str. masc.n. apparently originating in an es-stem *agiz, cp. Go agis), and egesa (a wk. masc. representing an n-stem extension of the same, i.e. *agisan; cp. OS egiso, OHG agiso, egiso); there is threfore a strong case for derivation from ON. An OE n-stem on the same root is nonetheless conceivable, and would have given *aga without i-mutation or palatalization.  

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

agi ‘dread, awe; discipline; enmity’; cp. agalauss ‘peaceful’
(ONP agi (sb.); cp. agalauss (adj.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far agi, Icel agi, Norw age, Dan ave, OSw aghi, Sw aga

OE Cognate

cp. ege (n.) ‘fear, awe’ 

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



The only other occurrence in ME is in the London text (1440) Let.Bk.Lond.K (Gldh LetBk K) (glossed by MED as ‘irreverent’); the simplex ME n. aue is distinctively N and E in earlier ME (first recorded in Orrm), but shows signs of wider acceptance by the later period (incl. Chaucer, in rhyme): see further McGee 507. 

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 2335


MED au(e)lēs (adj.) , OED aweless, awless (adj.) , HTOED , Dance aʒlez