adj., n.

Gaw dreʒ; Cl dryʒ; WA dreʒe, superl. dreʒest

‘great; incessant, heavy; unmoved, enduring’ (Modern English dree, dreigh)


Usually derived from ON, cp. OIcel drjúgr ‘abundant, sufficient, lasting, long-lasting; supportive, staunch, dogged, persistent’ (so Knigge 83, TGD, GDS, McGee 326, MED) representing a PGmc adj. *dreuga-, formed on the v. PGmc *dreugan-, as in OE drēogan (str. II) ‘to do, perform; experience, endure, suffer’ (from which OED takes the ME adj. as an independent native derivation). OE also had an adj. gedrēog ‘quiet, calm, sobre; fit, suitable’ which because it is recorded relatively rarely and late cannot strictly be taken as evidence of an indigenous adjectival derivative on *dreug- (though its distribution and productivity make Norse derivation implausible). The best evidence for ON input is in the range of senses of the ME word, most of which (‘great, large, tall; hard, heavy; lasting, long; burdensome, heavy, sorrowful’) compare much more closely with those known in Scandinavia (esp. ‘abundant’ and ‘long-lasting’) than those attached to OE drēog.  Nonetheless MED’s sense 3(a) ‘patient, long-suffering’ (the only meaning in which the ME adj. is attested early and outside N and E texts) may suggest a contribution from the survival of the OE (‘calm’).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

drjúgr 'abundant, sufficient, lasting; supportive staunch, persistent (etc.)'
(ONP drjúgr (adj.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far dr(j)úgvur, Icel drjúgur, Norw drjug, Sw dryg

OE Cognate

gedrēog ‘quiet, calm, sobre; fit, suitable’

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category




Predominantly N and E and alliterative, with the exception of MED’s sense 3(a) ‘patient, long-suffering’, which contains a handful of S citations (the earliest is a1225(?a1200) Trin.Hom.(Trin-C B.14.52)) as well as Gaw 724. EDD records Sc., Ire., N and N/EM dial usage in MnE.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 335, 724, 1031, etc., Pe 823; Cl 342, 385; WA 2091, 4441, 4804

On the sense at Gaw 335 and 724 see PS 335n; on the construction at Gaw 1031 see PSn; and on Gaw 1460 see Wright 1935: 170.  McGillivray (335n) prefers to assign the instance at Gaw 335 to ME drīe (PDE dry) in MED’s sense (7) (‘unfeeling, apathetic, unresponsive’). The D MS of WA has drafe dyntes derfe where A reads derfe dintis & dreʒe at 2091. The instance at WA 4441 is only found in the A MS. Skeat WA prints <drere> at 4804, but notes in the glossary that dreʒe 'is the read of the MS., and should have been retained'.


MED drī(e (adj.2) , drī(e (n.2) , OED dree, dreigh (adj.) , HTOED , HTOED , HTOED , EDD dree (adj.), Dance dryʒe, de Vries drjúgr, Mag. drjúgur, Heid. dreuga-, Orel *ðreuʒaz, Kroonen *dreuga-, DOE gedrēog