Pe past 3 sg. drounde; Cl past pl, pp. drowned; WA infin. droune, past sg. drouned, past pl. drouned, drowned

‘immersed, drowned’ (Modern English drowned)


This common Gmc wk. v. appears in both OE as druncnian ‘to be drunk; sink, drown’ and ON as OIcel druk(k)na ‘to drown’ < *PGmc *drunkanō(j)an- (cp. further OHG trunkanēn, tunkanōn ‘to sink down’), ultimately derived on the st. v. *drenkan- ‘to drink’ via a pp. adj. (cp. ON drukkinn, OE druncen, MLG drunken, OHG win-truncan). The main argument for deriving ME drouned from ON is the absence of the medial consonant, which Bj. (followed by de Vries, MED) attributes to what he identifies as East Norse dissimilation: drunkna > *drunna > *druʒna (Goll also compares Dan ‘drunkne, droune’; on the Dan forms, see further Nielsen). OED, calls this reduction in ME 'highly improbable' and speculates about the existence of an OE *drūnian as the source of the ME, in which case a different PGmc root form *drūn- might lie behind the ME word (and the analogous Dan forms as well). However, there is evidence for such a change in early Dan (see further Br-N. §420.2 for parallels), albeit post-Viking Age, which mediates against the need to postulate an alernative stem. 

PGmc Ancestor

*drunkanō(j)an- or ?*drūn-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

drukna 'to drown'
(ONP drukkna (v.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far drukna, Icel drukna, Norw drukna, runic Dan truknaþu (past 3 pl.), Dan drukne, Sw drunkna

OE Cognate

druncnian ‘to be drunk; sink, drown’, *drūnian

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



MED has one citation from a1325 Gloss.Bibbesw. (Cmb Gg.1.1), and then numerous and widespread citations from c. 1400 onwards. The earliest examples of figurative usage come from a1400(a1325) Cursor (Vsp A.3) and Pe.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 656; Cl 372, 989; Pat 245; WA 2590, 3032, 3072


MED drǒunen (v.1) , OED drown (v.) , HTOED , de Vries drukkinn, Mag. drukkna, Orel *đrukanōjanan, Seebold drenk-a, Nielsen drukne