v. (past)

(1) ‘boiled, bubbled’; (2) ‘resounded’; (3) ‘swelled, rose’

(Modern English (1) boil; (2) bellow; (3) boil)


Several etymons will plausibly explain byled in Gaw 2082 (‘Brokez byled and breke bi bonkkez aboute’), and there is good reason to maintain the possibility of ON derivation among them: (1) Byled is usually taken as a variant of ME boillen and hence derived from OFr boillir (AN buillir etc.) (< Lat bullīre 'to form bubbles, boil'). The instance at Gaw (with reference to a stream) accords well with MED's sense (5a) incl. 'of a stream: rush along, gurgle'. The /i:/ implied by the spelling <byled> is harder to explain. Although /ɔi/ ~ /i:/ variation in the stem is plausibly accounted for by McL (89) by derivation from the early Fr variants boil- and buil- respectively, Gaw byled would be the only known instance of such a ME bīl < Fr buill-. (2) Knigge (79) derives it instead from the ON v. represented by OIcel bylja 'to resound, echo' (cp. the n. bylr 'gust of wind, squall') (cp. MHG büllen ‘to bark’, MDu bullen ‘to race, rage’, supposing a PGmc *buljan- probably related by Ablaut to OE bellan ‘to bellow, roar’, OHG bellan, OIcel belja), which would explain the form and provide a plausible sense in context. OE would therefore have had a form *byllan, which would not fit as well with the vocalism of byled (assuming long /i:/ here). OE bylgan ‘to bellow’ is sometimes listed as (?near-)cognate with OIcel bylja (thus e.g. de Vries, Orel) (and offered as a possible etymon of Gaw byled by Savage (1944: 348–9)), but its single attested form <bylgedon> (at Mart 5 Ja 17, A.19) strongly indicates a <g> standing for /ɣ/), and therefore suggests a lWS wk. 2 bylgian derived on the same ultimate PGmc root as the words cited above, but with an -(i)g- suffix. Its direct ME reflex would therefore have been *bilwen (if we assume PGmc *bul-) or the attested belwen (PDE bellow) (if we assume PGmc *bal-). (3) Attempts have also been made to connect ME byled with ME bile ‘any festering sore on the surface of the body; ulcer, carbuncle, boil, bubo; also, an ulcerated wound; a swelling; a canker, pimple, blister; a callus’ (i.e. PDE boil) and the derived ptcp. adj. biled ‘ulcerated, ulcerous; erupted, swollen’, and thus to have the v. in context in Gaw mean ‘?to swell or rise’.  Its etymon would therfore be OE bȳl (bȳla, bȳle) ‘boil, infected swelling, blister; protruberance; hardened thick skin, callus’ (cp. OFris bēl(e), Du buil, MHG biule (and without i-mutation OS būla, OHG bulla) < PGmc *būljō-).  But the OE and ME words in question otherwise refer only to sores or swellings on the body, and so this idea seems a poor fit semantically to the Gaw context.

PGmc Ancestor

(2) *buljan-; (3) *būljō-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(2) bylja ‘to resound, echo’ 
(ONP (2) bylja (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(2) Far bylgja, Icel bylgja, Norw bylgja, Dan bølge, Sw bölja

OE Cognate

(3)  bȳl (bȳla, bȳle) ‘boil, infected swelling, blister; protruberance; hardened thick skin, callus’ 

Phonological and morphological markers


absence of WGmc consonant gemination

] (possibly diagnostic) (may not be applicable)

Summary category



(1) ME boillen ‘to boil’ etc. is widespread from c. 1300. (2) A v. bilen ‘to roar’ would be a hapax legomenon in ME. (3) ME bile ‘boil’ is widespread from c. 1300, but there are no other known instances of a v. derived on it.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 2082


MED bīlen (v.2) , Dance byled; (1) OED boil (v.) , MED boillen (v.) , AND buillir, FEW bullire, DEAF bolir (v.); (2) de Vries bylja, Mag. bylja, Orel *ƀuljanan, OED bellow (v.) , AEW bylgan (2), DOE bylgan (1); (3) OED boil (n.1) , MED bīl(e (n.2) , Orel *ƀūljō(n), AEW bȳl; bȳle, DOE bȳl, bȳla, bȳle