WA bredfull, bretfull, brettfull


(Modern English )


ME bredful is usually derived from ON (so Bj., MED, EVG, McGee 362), although the source is not attested in OIcel, because Scandinavian words derived from PGmc *ƀrazd-  or *ƀrezd- such as Norw dial bradd 'shore, bank', Dan bred 'border, boundary', and Sw brädd, show assimilation of rd > dd in contrast to WGmc cognates: cp. OE brerd, breard 'brim, margin, border', OHG brart, brord 'edge'. There may be some evidence in favour of adducing ON input in the formation of the compound adj. as well: OE brerdful 'brimfull', is attested only once, in Ælfric's Lives of Saints from c.1000, and then survives into ME in Orrm (brerdfull) and Cl (brurdful). It is paralleled by Sw bräddfull with the same sense. Yet, the existence of OE brerdful in the right sense and the possibility of its corruption (cp. perhaps OE brod (SPS 408)) leave some room for doubt about the conclusiveness of the phonological evidence. Goll and Osgood are somewhat cautious about identifying bredful as an ON loan, only comparing the Sw adj. (and the former also cites OE brerd), and OED considers the more common ME spellings without the second <r> to be a 'phonetic corruption' of the OE form, but doesn't mention the possibility of loan from ON.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(ONP )

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Norw dial bradd, ODan bræ(d)d, Dan bred, Sw brädd, Sw dial bradd; cp. Sw bräddfull

OE Cognate

brerd, breard (n.) 'brim, margin, border', brerdful 'brimfull'

Phonological and morphological markers

[ON consonant cluster assimilation] (may not be applicable)

Summary category



First cited by MED and OED from a1225(?a1200) Trin.Hom. (Trin-C B.14.52) and then in a variety of texts incl. WA, SJ, Chaucer and PP. Spellings indicating the OE form brerd occur only in Ælfric, Orrm and Cl.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 126; WA 1548, 4089, *3582 etc.

DTP introduces another instance by emending <þine full> to þine bretfull at WA *3582 for metrical reasons.


MED bred-ful (adj.) , OED bret-full (adj.) , HTOED , Bj. 168, Nielsen bred (1), Torp bradd, Falk-Torp bred, DOE brerdful, Orel *ƀrazđaz ~ ƀrezđaz, Kroonen *brazda, *brezda-