(Modern English (1) hire)


Morris's (see glossary) suggested emendation of MS <lere> to *here in Pe 616 is taken up by some subsequent editors, but the interpretation of this word is problematic: (1) The sense of the line seems to require a word for payment or reward, and so it is sometimes interpreted as a variant spelling of ME hīre < OE hȳre 'payment' (e.g. Osgood). But Goll (Pe 616) observes that the poet's regular form is <hyre> and EVG (616n) adds that the identification is 'formally incredible in this text'. (2) Goll (616n) mentions the first possibility, but prefers to interpret this *here as <ere> with 'unessential h' (his cited parallel is by emendation). He derives this *ere, which derives from ON eyri(r) 'ounce, sum of money for a payment' (< Lat aureus). This word was borrowed into OE as ȳre/ēre, but with a more restricted meaning (recorded in 11c. texts, see further SPS 38).

PGmc Ancestor

(1) *xūrja-; (2) *auri-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(2) eyrir 'ounce, money'
(ONP eyrir (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far oyri, Icel eyrir, Norw ørre, Dan øre, Sw öre

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



(1) Common and widespread in the relevant sense from early ME; (2) Late OE ȳre/ēre is not otherwise attested in ME.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 616

Most editors emend MS <lere> at Pe 616 (Vant 616n follows Hillmann in maintaining the MS reading, but both interpretations are quite forced: Vant proposes an identification with MED's leir (n.1) and glosses 'abode', but this does not the fit the context as well and requires an unlikely spelling and Hillmann translates 'recompense', an unlikely sense extension of MED's lūre (n.1)). On EVG's suggested emendation, see fere. On the emendation to *here, see Etymological Discussion. Goll (616n) notes that <l> is apparently written for <h> elsewhere in the MS.


(1) MED hīr(e (n.) , OED hire (n.) , HTOED , AEW hȳr; (2) de Vries eyrir, Mag. eyrir