Pe pres. ptcp. sulpande; Cl pp. sulped

'defile, pollute'

(Modern English )


The etymology of this v. is obscure, but a range of plausible comparanda have been cited: OED suggests it might be related to Ger dial sulper, solper 'bog, mud', the original meaning of which could have been 'brine, pickle', and sölpern 'to soil, sully'; and MED and EVG add Norw dial sulpa 'splash, plunge, wade'. McGee (415), however, argues that the Shetl. n. sulp 'moisture, swamp' is a closer connection (following Goll 726n, who holds that it represents the same word) and that 'the idea of "defilement" might connect the word with the words for "sweepings, untidiness"', incl. Shetl. (v.) sulp 'put out of order', Far søpla 'mix up in an untidy heap', Norw søpla 'sweep up dirt and dust'. EVG also compares N dial sowp 'drench' (EDD s.v. soup), from the n. sowp < ON, cp. OIcel saup 'buttermilk' (related to súpa 'drink'), which Goll concludes 'may well be a variant of the word'. McGee also notes the N distribution of the ME word in support of postulating a Scandinavian etymon.

PGmc Ancestor

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(ONP )

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

cp. Far søpla, Norw søpla; Norw dial sulpa

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



Attested in the late 14c. and 15c., primarily from N texts.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 726; Cl 15, 550, 1130, etc.


MED sulpen (v.) , OED sulp (v.) , HTOED , EDD soup (v.2 and sb.2)