Pe pl. daleʒ

‘(bottom of) valley’ (Modern English dale)


The widespread ME n. dale could be explained as a direct reflex of the reasonably common OE dæl (nom./acc. pl. dalu) ‘valley, pit’ (thus TGD, GDS); cp. OIcel dalr ‘valley; hollow, depression (in the landscape)’, Go *dals (or perhaps *dal neut.; attested in oblique and derived forms only), OFris del, OS dal, OHG tal. However given its productivity as 'a living geographical name' in the N (OED), some degree of ON input is almost always assumed behind the word’s usage in both lexicon and onomasticon in ME and later (so Knigge 1885: 74, MED, Thorson 58, EPNE, Elliott 1984: 107–8, 1989: 10.)

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

dalr ‘valley; hollow, depression (in the landscape)’
(ONP dalr (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far dalur, Icel dalur, Norw dal, Dan dal, Sw dal

OE Cognate

dæl ‘valley, pit’

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



Common and widespread throughout ME.  In onomastic usage it is especially frequent in the N/EM (see EPNE).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 1151, 2005, 2162; Pe 121; Cl 384


MED dāle (n.) , OED dale (n.1) , HTOED , Dance dale, Bj. 9, de Vries dalr (1), Mag. dalur (1), Bammesberger 54, Orel *ðalaz ~ *ðalan, AEW dæl, DOE dæl, EPNE dæl (1); dalr