v. (past)

Cl pp. schunt

‘swerved; flinched’ (Modern English shunt)


Probably a native word, but (1) some early discussions (incl. Skeat 1982: 473-4 and Knigge 78, 88) explain it as a loan of the ON v. represented by OIcel skunda ‘to speed, hasten’ (cp. the wk. 1 verbs on the same PGmc root *skunð-, i.e. OIcel skynda ‘to hasten’, OE scyndan ‘to hurry, hasten, drive forward, impel; incite, exhort’, OS skundian, scundian (farskundian), MDu schinden, scunden, scunnen, OHG scuntan, scunten, scunden ‘to urge, drive on, incite’). However, ON /sk/ does not normally > ME /ʃ/ (unless we assume sound substitution; Knigge 88 allows for influence from (2)), and final devoicing in /nt/ in PDE shunt is an unexpected outcome from ON /nd/ (we should predict ON skunda > ME skunden). (2) More likely is a native etymon, most probably a derivative of the semantically proximate OE scunian ‘to shun, avoid; be afraid, abhor’ (of unclear etymology, with no known Gmc cognates) with a -t suffix (thus OED, MED, TGD, GDS).

PGmc Ancestor

(1) *skunð-; (2)?*skunōjan- 

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(1) skunda ‘to speed, hasten’
(ONP (1) skunda (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(1) Far skunda, Icel skunda, Norw skunda, Dan skynde, OSw skunda

OE Cognate

(2) scunian ‘to shun, avoid; be afraid, abhor'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



Esp. frequent in (N) alliterative verse, though also attested further afield, inc. AW.T (its first recorded occurrence), and S and W texts inc. c1380 Firumb.(1) (Ashm 33) and the Winchester Malory.  

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 1902, 2280; Cl 605


MED shunten (v.) , OED shunt (v.) , HTOED , Dance schunt (v.); (1)  de Vries skunda, Mag. skunda, Orel *skunðōjanan; (2) OED shun (v.) , MED shǒnen (v.) , AEW scunian