v. (wk.)

Pe past dard

'to cower, shrink' (Modern English dare)


(1) Almost always regarded as native and usually derived unproblematically from an OE darian (thus TGD, GDS, MED, OED).  Nonetheless the OE lexeme is recorded only once (LS 34 (SevenSleepers) 293; see DOE) late, and its etymology is opaque. Connections have been suggested with MDu, LG bedaren ‘to appease, abate, compose, calm’, Flemish verdaren ‘to astonish, amaze’ (OED) and OE dierne ‘secret’< PIE *dher-, *dherǝ- ‘to hold, support’  (Pokorny 253, AEW, MED; see also Torp-Falk 202). (2) Kullnick derives from ON, comparing Sw darra ‘to tremble, shiver’; this is a good match for at least some of the ME senses (and could conceivably lie behind the others, too, as well as that of lOE darian, i.e. ‘tremble’ > ‘cower’?). Its etymology is also rather difficult, but some of the Scandinavian etymological authorities derive it from a (different) PIE root *dher- ‘to spring, shake’ (thus Torp NnEO, Falk-Torp, Nielsen, and also Torp-Falk p. 202 )

PGmc Ancestor

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(ONP )

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far darra, Norw darra, Sw darra

OE Cognate

darian 'to lie still or hidden'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



One single lOE occurrence, and then fairly widespread in ME, though MED’s sense 3 (‘to be motionless, inactive, dispirited … be scared, tremble’, etc., which includes the two Gaw instances) is cited esp. often from alliterative contexts (inc. the KG and Harley 2253).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 315, 2258; Pe 609, 839


MED dāren (v.) , OED dare (v.2) , HTOED , Dance dare; (1) DOE darian, AEW darian; (2) Torp NnEO darra, Falk-Torp dirre, Hellquist darra, Nielsen dirre