adj., v. (pp.)

(1) ‘lifted up’;  (2) ‘raised, i.e. high’

(Modern English uphold)


Two different identifications have been offered for <vphalt> at Gaw 2079 (‘Þe heuen watz vphalt, bot vgly þer-vnder’), the second of which admits the possibility of Norse derivation alongside the much more likely AF source: (1) Madden (glossary s.v. halde; followed by Morris, GDS, OED) understands -halt as the pp. of halden ‘to hold’, in which case it is a form of the relatively common ME v. uphōlden (in MED’s sense (1a) ‘to hold up, support physically; lift, raise’), < OE up + healdan. (2) TG instead identifies the second element of vphalt with ME hālen ‘to drag or pull’ (etc.), which has sometimes been derived from ON (cp. OIcel halla ‘to lean, turn, sway, swerve’) but is generally now explained as from the same Gmc root via AF haler (see hale). TG(D) (2079n) notice that the usual spellings of the pp. of halden in the Gaw MS are <halden, holden>, there being no other instances of a wk. <halt>; -halt here is therefore more likely to represent the wk. pp. of hale, i.e. -halt < -halet.  This interpretation seems to be the one followed by all subsequent editions (incl. Vant, AW and PS, and by MED.)

PGmc Ancestor

(1) *xaldan-; (2) *xalþōjan- or *xalōjan-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(2) halla ‘to lean, turn, sway, swerve’ (or hala 'pull')
(ONP (2) hala (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(2) Far halla, Icel halla; Far hála, Icel hala, Norw hala, Dan hale

OE Cognate

(1) healdan 'to hold (etc.)

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



(1) ME upholden is common. In the sense ‘to hold up, support physically; lift, raise’, MED attests it from AW.A, Cursor Mundi and it is then widespread from the late 14c., incl. at Gaw 2442. (2) ME uphalen is recorded by MED otherwise only from (a1460) Vegetius(2) (Pmb-C 243) (of a bow being drawn) and a1500 As I walkyd vppon (Cmb Ff.1.6) (of a root being pulled up). ME halen is common and widespread (incl. Chaucer, Gower), albeit esp. frequent in alliterative verse (inc. LB, PP).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 2079

Often printed as two words (e.g. by Madden, Morris, M(G), TG, Vant.) at Gaw 2079.


MED uphālen (v.) , OED uphold (v.) , HTOED , Dance vphalt; (1) MED uphōlden (v.) , MED hōlden (v.1) , OED hold (v.) , Seebold hald-a-, Orel *xalðanan, AEW healdan; (2) MED hālen (v.) , OED hale (v.1) , Fritzner hala (v.), de Vries hala, Mag. hala, Seebold hell-a-, Orel *xalōjanan, Kroonen *halōn- ~ *hulōn-, AND haler (1), DEAF haler (v.a.), FEW Germanismes *halon