(Modern English )


The etymology of the apparent hapax adj. freles (the second element is OE -lēas) in Pe 431 is uncertain, but an ON source is certainly plausible: (1) EVG and Goll both compare it to ON frýjulauss, with the former (100) suggesting a derivation from an older *frœja > frýja (but the Gmc etymology is disputed). However, Bj. says that the word in its MS form is 'difficult to derive from Scandinavian' and notes approvingly Mätzner's emendation to an otherwise unattested ME *frieles, which would make an ON origin more likely phonologically. But the senses of the ON word seem to be somewhat different from the word as employed in Pe, though perhaps not so far removed as to be unfeasible. (2) MED and OED seem to favour a connection to the ME adj. frele (< OFr frail, frele < Lat fragilis), and MED cites several instances of its use as a n. in the sense of 'moral weakness'.

PGmc Ancestor

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

frýjulauss 'blameless'
(ONP frýjulauss (adj.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



hapax legomenon

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 431

Most editors maintain the MS reading, but some (incl. AW and Moorman) follow Hamilton’s (1958: 187) suggested emendation to fereles 'without equal' (see Vant 431n and AW 425-32n.).


MED frēlēs (adj.) , OED freeless (adj.) , HTOED , Bj. 117, 210; (1) MED frīen (v.1)[], de Vries frýja, Mag. frýja; (2) MED frēle(e (adj) , OED frail (adj.)[]