Pe stroþe

?'small wood' (Modern English strothe)


ON derivation or influence on a native word is very likely: (1) The most commonly cited etymon (Strat-Brad, Kullnick 1902: 17,  Schmittbetz 1909:13 (though taking the ME as an adj.), Emerson 1922, Gordon and Onions 1932: 128-31 (suggesting OWN specifically), TG 1701n, followed by McGee 351 and in part by authorities listed in 2a) is the ON n. represented by OIcel storð ‘grass, green stalk’ (cp. OSw storþahug ‘scrub ditch’) < PGmc *sturðō, which has been related to the Icel adj. stirður ‘stiff’ (prob. < *sterð-) and (perh.) Norw stjor, stjore ‘pole, protruding stem’ (see Mag.). This case is supported by Ekwall's (1918: 200–1) citation of medieval forms of Lan. place-names showing the same metathesis of [or] to [ro]. (2a) An alternative suggestion is sole derivation from OE strōd 'marshy land overgrown with brushwood' (attested only in charter bounds and place-names, see EPNE) (cp. OHG struot, MLG strōt(d), supposing a PGmc *strōð-) and it is possible to explain the medial fricative via native phonological processes (see further Dance), esp.  if we compare the probably related OE *strōðer (see (2b)). However, in practice it is hard to rule out some role for the formally and semantically similar ON storð (see (1)), and most commentators prefer to allow for input from both (e.g. Stevenson 1898: 537-41, OED, Tolkien 1934: 56 n.2, TGD, Elliott 1984: 82. 129-30). (2b) ME strother (derived from OE *strōðer 'a place overgrown with brushwood' (EPNE)) which seems to lie behind several N place-names and has been explained as related to OE strōd (OED, MED, Stevenson 1898: 540) could also lie behind ME strothe either as the form intended (Onions 1924: 286 takes strothe as a scribal error for strother) or as an endingless by-form *strōð of OE *strōðer (Gordon 1953: 115n). (3) Gollancz (GDS 1710n, 1921: 115n) compares instead Scots strath 'a valley through which a river runs' (OED's strath n.) < Gael srath 'a valley, strath' (cp. Ir srath, sratha, We ystrad), attested from the 16c. But the vocalism is a bad fit for ME <stroth->, which if it contains /ɔ:/ must descend from an early ME form in long /a:/ (Holthausen 1923: 136).

PGmc Ancestor

(1) *sturðō; (2) *strōð-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(1) storð ‘grass, green stalk’
(ONP (1) storð (1) (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(1) Icel storð, OSw storþahug

OE Cognate

(2) (a) strōd ‘marshy land overgrown with brushwood’, (b) *strōðer 'a place overgrown with brushwood'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



MED only cites twice from literary sources (Gaw and Pe). It gives a range of onomastic citations of widespread provenance (incl. Buc., Kent, Sus.), but all these forms contain <d> except (1198) Mem.St.Mary Fountains in Sur.Soc.67 15 <Langestroth> (next to the same text, 9 <Langestrod>).  The place-name closest in form in EPNE s.v. strōd is Langstrothdale (WRY).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 1710; Pe 115

TGD and Vant suggest <ro> has been rewritten in the MS at Gaw 1710. Madden and Morris take it as an adj., which Morris glosses as 'wild' from context (see his note). Other editors' translations largely follow assumptions about the word's etymology: see esp. notes in TGD, TG, and further Gordon and Onions 1932: 129). PS prints a compound at Gaw 1710: strothe-rande 'strip of marshy scrubland'. On the sense of stroþe-men in Pe, see EVG 115n.


MED strōthe (n.) , OED strothe (?n.) , Dance strothe; (1) de Vries storð (1), Mag. storð (2), Orel *sturðō, EPNE storð; (2) (a) AEW strōd, EPNE strōd, (b) OED strother , MED strōther (n.1) , EPNE *strōðer (3) Matasović *strato-, GPC ystrad, eDIL srath , LEIA srath, MacBain srath