Erk crosse


(Modern English cross)


Late OE cros (attested only in place-names) and ME cros derive ultimately from Lat crux (oblique stem cruc-) ‘cross’, but there are a variety of possible proximate sources, chiefly: (1) Olr cros (see AEW, Serjeantson 1936: 60, followed by Kastovsky 1992: 319) and (2) ON, represented by OIcel kross, most likely borrowed from it (on other possible sources see de Vries, Mag., Hellquist, Torp, Falk-Torp, Nielsen). AF crosce, cross (variants of the more common croiz) and medieval Lat cros might suggest further possibilities, unless they represent loans of the ME word themselves. Arguments have been made for multiple inputs (thus Diensberg 1997: 459–61, 2006: 51, MED) but it is simpler to suppose a single Hiberno-Norse source (thus e.g. OED, TGD, GDS, Dance 2003: 417–18, Durkin 2014: XX §4.1 n. 6) and this hypothesis is consistent with the circumstantial evidence of place-name distribution in England (see attestation).

PGmc Ancestor

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

kross 'cross'
(ONP kross (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far krossur, Icel, Norw kross, Dan kors, Sw kors

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



There are three occurrences of late OE cros in place-name forms, all in 12c. manuscripts and associated with Peterborough; in onomastic usage cros is esp. frequent in the NW (see EPNE).  Common and widespread throughout ME; the earliest MED record is as a surname in (1199) CRR(1) 2.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 762; Erk 2

On the phrase ‘Cros Kryst’ see Emerson 1922: 374, TGD 762n; it is sometimes hyphenated (e.g. by GDS, Vant).


MED cros (n.) , OED cross (n.) , HTOED , Dance cros, de Vries kross, Mag. kross, Nielsen kors, Hellquist kors, Torp NnEO kross, Falk-Torp kors, AEW cross, DOE cros, EPNE cros, AND croiz (1), FEW crŭx, eDIL cros , LEIA cros