'angle, point, part, corner' (Modern English nook)


The etymon of this word must remain somewhat speculative: (1) The closest analogue elsewhere in Gmc is Norw (Telemark dial) nōk 'hook', but primarily in figurative use of people who are 'bent with age', or 'poor, shy, etc.' (OED3) (this comparison is also tentatively cited in TGD, GDS, MED and Dance 2003: 351). The Norw word is isolated and etymologically obscure (see further Torp), but Scandinavian origin is a reasonable conjecture given the mainly N/EM distribution of the ME simplex. (2) A group of Gmc nouns in nok- provide another possible, but less compelling, set of comparanda. These include PDE nock, which OED3 (s.v. nock n.3) derives from an ON n represented by Icel hnokki 'small hole through which the fibre runs in a spinning wheel' (cp. Norw nokke, Dan nokke, Sw nock), supposing a PGmc *hnukk-. The short vowel in these words, however, is not a good match for ME noke.(3) Least plausible is Skeat's attempted derivation (EDELI s.v. nook, followed by Kullnick 28) from a Celtic word represented by Gael niùc ‘corner’, which is better explained (as in OED and MacBain) as a more recent borrowing of noke (as in Scots neuk).

PGmc Ancestor

(2) *hnukk-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(ONP )

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(1) Norw dial nōk; (2) Icel hnokki, Norw nokke, Dan nokke, Sw nock

OE Cognate

(2) cp. hnoc 'wether sheep'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



MED’s literary citations begin in the late 14c. and are predominantly N/EM (though the compound feower-noked occurs much earlier at LB 10978). EPNE (s.v. nōk) and MED (sense (2e)) notice field-names containing nōk from as far apart as Cum., Not., War. and Ess.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 660; Pat 278; WA 506, 3144, 4831


MED nōk (n.) , OED3 nook (n.) , HTOED , Dance noke; (1) Torp NnEO nōk, Torp-Falk 97, Pokorny I.558; (2) de Vries hnúka, Mag. hnokki; hnúka, Torp NnEO nokke, Falk-Torp nok, Nielsen nok (I), Hellquist nock, nocke, Orel *xnukkaz ~ *xnukkōn, Kroonen *hnekkan- ~ *hnakka(n)-, AEW hnocc, OED3 nock (n.3) ; (3) MacBain niùc