n. (pl.)

WA hernes


(Modern English harn)


Usually derived from ON, cp. OIcel hjarni 'brain' (< *herna before fracture and stress shift) because an OE (masc. or neut.) n. hærn(e) 'brain' is attested only once and very late, in a Peterborough Chronicle entry for 1137. PGmc *xerznan also appears in WGmc, cp. OHG hirni, MHG hirne, MLG herne. It is closely related to *xersnōn (cp. OIcel hjarsi 'crown of the head'), and further connected with e.g. Lat cerebrum 'brain'.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

hjarni 'brain'
(ONP hjarni (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Norw hjerne, Dan hjerne, Sw hjärna, hjärne

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



This word first appears in English in ?a1160 Peterb.Chron. (LdMisc 636), and in ME is predominantly N and E. OED and EDD cite usage from N and Sc dial in MnE.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 58; WA 839, 2545

The D MS of WA reads <harmes> at 2545.


MED hernes (n.) , OED harn (n.1) , HTOED , EDD harn (sb.), Bj. 213, de Vries hjarni, Mag. hjarni, Orel *xersnōn ~ *xersnan, Kroonen *hersan- ~ *herzan-