adj., v. (past sg., pp. as adj.)

'curse, (pp.) accursed' (Modern English ban)


While formally and in some senses this v. continues OE bannan 'summon, command, proclaim' < the st. PGmc v. *ƀannan- (ult. related to IE verbs for speaking; cp. OFris banna 'summon', OHG bannan 'ban, order, summon', OS bann), influence (or even loan) from the ON v. represented by OIcel banna 'forbid, prevent, curse' has been invoked to explain the sense 'curse' in ME (e.g. OED, MED, GollCl). The ON v. is a wk. formation (<*bann-ō-) on the st. v., cp. OHG bannōn 'call upon'. Bj. included this v. in his list of 'words which have been erroneously derived from Scandinavian', noting that the sense may come from the ME n. ban, where it derives from Medieval Latin bannum, bannus 'a formal ecclesiastical denunciation' (thus too OIcel banna in ONP's sense (3)). Yet as Flom (1903-5: 424) argues in his review of Bj., this sense of the v. does closely parallel the ON and occurs first in N dial and Scandinavian influence cannot be ruled out. He suggests that the Lat is the source of the sense 'interdict' and the Norse 'swear, curse'. In practice, of course, such distinctions in sense are not always present or evident, but there is reason enough to see ON as one possible input (among several, incl. also OFr: see also OED s.v. ban (n.1) and MED s.v. ban (n.)) into the sense development of this v.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

banna 'forbid, prevent, curse'
(ONP banna (2) (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far banna, Icel banna, Norw banna, Dan bande, Sw banna

OE Cognate

bannan 'summon, command, proclaim'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



Wk. past tense forms are attested in all senses from the 13c. onwards. MED's sense (2) 'to curse, condemn' is first attested in a1250(?c1150) Prov.Alf. (Mdst A.13) and the earliest citations in OED and MED otherwise come from N and Midlands texts, but more widespread instances (incl. Gower and PP) also occur from the 14c. In MnE ban in the sense 'curse, swear' is mainly found in Sc and N dial, but EDD also has one instance from Kent.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Cl 468, 885


MED bannen (v.) , OED ban (v.) , HTOED , EDD ban (v.), de Vries banna, Mag. bann (1), Orel *ƀannanan, *ƀannōjanan, Kroonen bannan-, Seebold bann-a-, DOE bannan, AEW bannan