‘clasp, i.e. door-pin’

(Modern English hasp)


Only the metathesized form hæpse ‘fastening, clasp’ is recorded in OE, in contrast to the /sp/-type elsewhere in Gmc, viz. OIcel hespa ‘wisp or skein of wool; hasp, fastening’ (supposing a PGmc by-form *xaspjōn with thematic -j-), OHG haspa ‘reelful of yarn’, MLG hespe, haspe ‘hinge’, MDu haspe ‘door-fastening, skein of yarn’, hespe ‘hinge, joint, ham’, and as a borrowing into MLat haspa, OFr haspe (see AND, FEW, DEAF). Most authorities regard ME haspe as native, implying a non-metathesized OE variant *hæspe (thus OED, TGD, GDS);  but MED includes the ON form in its etymology, as well as a ‘cp.’ to the MLat and OFr, influence from any of which could conceivably have contributed to the frequency of the non-metathesized type in ME. 

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

hespa ‘wisp or skein of wool; hasp, fastening’
(ONP hespa (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far hespa, Icel hespa, Norw hespe, hespa, Dan haspe, Sw hasp

OE Cognate

hæpse ‘fastening, clasp’ 

Phonological and morphological markers


absence of metathesis

] (possibly diagnostic)

Summary category



Widely recorded by MED across ME, from c1225(OE) Wor.Aelfric Gloss.(Wor F.174) onwards.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 1233


MED hasp(e (n.) , OED hasp (n.) , HTOED , Dance haspe, de Vries hespa (1), Mag. hespa (1), Orel *xasp(j)ōn, AEW hæsp, hæpse