Gaw pl. glodes; Pe pl. glodeʒ

'open space, patch (of sky)' (Modern English glode)


A difficult word which could apparently denote open patches of ground, but also  refer to bright areas of sky (or cloud). Some attempts have been made at an etymology: (1) The most plausible approach is to regard ME glode as etymologically identical to PDE glade, the etymology of which is obscure, but almost always connected with the PGmc adj. *glaða- 'shining' (Heid.) as in OE glæd ‘bright, shining (mainly in poetry); glad, cheerful, joyous’ (cp. OFris gled ‘smooth’, OS gladmōd ‘happy’, OHG glat ‘clear, light’, OIcel glaðr ‘glad, bright (inc. of weather)’). The sense development from ‘sunny place’ to ‘clearing’, can be compared to Sw dial. glänna ‘sunny spot, open place in a wood’; and still closer Sw glad, Norw glada ‘an open space in a forest’, derived on *glaða- (see Torp, Hellquist).  There has been the occasional attempt to derive PDE glade, ME glade directly from such a Scandinavian word (so Torp, Skeat (EDEL1 s.v. glade)),  but unless sound-substitution has been at work, a ME loan of ON *glað- ought to have a root-final fricative, and if PDE glade and ME glode are indeed the same word, then we need to look for an immediate ancestor with a long /ɑ:/. Most recent authorities have therefore looked to an unrecorded OE *glāda (OED) or *glād (MED, EPNE) ‘bright place’, i.e. in toponyms ‘a glade, an open space in a forest’; in that case, glode must represent the normal Midland/Southern development (with /ɑ:/ > /ɔ:/), and PDE glade a (literary) northernism (see EPNE).  A PGmc *glaið- is not otherwise attested, but again it has usually been connected with the adj. *glaða-, as an Ablaut variant on the same root. (2)  Gollancz (Pearl 79n and glossary, cross-referred to in GDS 2181n) explains glode as a ‘variant’ of PDE glade and, given its apparent sense in Pe (bright clouds), looks for an origin in (or influence from?) Scandinavian words with similar meanings, notably Norw glott ‘an opening, a clear spot among clouds’ and the Shetland (Norn) words gloderek ‘a large dark cloud with whitish top, through which the sun shines’, gloderet, glodere (adj.) ‘(of the air), filled with whitish clouds, the sun shining through’, glod(er) ‘hot and sudden sunshine between showers’ (cited from Jakobsen 1897), which he too relates ultimately to the root of PDE glad. While some input from the VAN reflexes of words such as these is perhaps possible (esp. in terms of sense), their similarities to ME glode may be merely superficial (see further McGee 333–4, Dance). (3) Gollancz (Pearl) makes a further comparison to OE <glade< (in the phrase ‘sunne gæþ to glade’), which has not otherwise been connected with PDE glade or ME glode. It is recorded just once in DOE from the 13c. BenRW, with the meaning ‘setting; of the sun: gan to glade “to set”’ and then from Trevisa on. Loan from ON (cp. OIcel sólar-glaðan ‘sunset’, Norw dial glada, Sw dial gladas, gla(d)na ‘to set (of the sun)’ etc.) has been suggested (Bj., EDD, OED, MED), but SPS expresses doubt and a direct loan from ON glað- ought to result in an ME word in /d/ (unless there has been sound-substitution). Regardless, OE glade is not a match for the *glād needed to produce ME glode, since (contrary to DOE’s mark-up) the uniform spellings <a> of its ME and early MnE reflexes require an OE short /ɑ/ here.  

PGmc Ancestor

(1) *glaið-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

sólar-glaðan ‘sunset’
(ONP sólar-glaðan (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(2) Norw glott, Shetl gloderek, gloderet, glodere, glod(er); (3) Norw dial glada, Sw dial gladas, gla(d)na 

OE Cognate

(1) *glād(a) ‘bright place’; (3) glad-

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



MED’s literary citations come only from northern alliterative verse. For possible place-name evidence, inc. Cockglode (Not.), see EPNE.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 2181, 2266; Pe 79; Erk 75

Gaw 2181 glodes is interpreted by Elliott as ‘chinks in the rocky surface where a little light and less soil enable tufts of grass and patches of plants to grow’ (1984: 46); Emerson (1922: 405) suggests emending to *gladesGaw 2266 on glode is glossed by TGD as ‘on the ground’, and explained by GDS (followed by MED sense 1(c)) as referring to ‘a bright surface of snow’.


MED glāde (n.1) , OED glode (n.) , HTOED , Dance glode; (1) Torp NnEO glad, Hellquist glad (2), SAO glad (sbst.), Smith EPNE glād, OED glade (n.2) , ODEE glade; (2) Torp NnEO glott; (3) de Vries glaðan, Mag. -glaðan, DOE glāde, MED glāde (n.2) , OED glade (n.1) , EDD glade (sb.), Bj. 160, SPS 496