v. (wk.)

'to fondle, stroke'

(Modern English fawn)


OE had two forms of the v., one with and one without first fronting and consequent palatalization, viz. fægnian, fagnian, mirroring its doublet of the adj. fægen, fagen ‘joyful, glad’ on which it was derived (cp. also the OS adj. fagin, fagan and v. faginōn, faganōn) apparently reflecting suffix Ablaut at an early stage (see Sievers3 §50 Anm. 1, etc.). ME forms of this verb in <ʒ, w> from late OE /ɣ/ are thus best explained as native developments, although some scholarship (Skeat 1882, Klugge 1901: 933, 940, Knigge 75) has accounted for them (or in the case of Bj., their frequency) by adducing ON influence, cp. OIcel fagna ‘to be fain, rejoice; welcome, receive with good cheer’.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

fagna ‘to be fain, rejoice; welcome, receive with good cheer’
(ONP fagna (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far fagna, Icel fagna, Norw fagna, ODan fagne, Sw fägne

OE Cognate

fægnian, fagnian 'to rejoice, be glad, exalt'

Phonological and morphological markers

[absence of palatalization of */ɡ/] (may not be applicable)

Summary category



There are several citations in MED (from a1250 Ancr.(Tit D.18:Morton)) favouring no particular dial, but Gaw 1919 is the only witness to its sense 3, ‘to pat or stroke (a dog)’.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 1919


MED faunen (v.1) , OED fawn (v.1) , HTOED , Dance fawne, Bj. 111-12, de Vries fagna, Mag. fagna, Heid. fagana- (-ena-), Orel *faʒanōjanan ~ *faʒenōjanan, Kroonen *fehan-, AEW fægnian, fagnian, DOE fægnian, fagnian