'bracken, fern' (Modern English bracken)


The closest comparanda to this ME word are the Scandinavian nouns Dan bregne, Sw bräken and (corrupt) Icel burkni and Norw burkne, and on this basis an ON *brakni is usually reconstructed. No OE bræcen is attested (nor is there evidence for Holthausen's bracu 'thicket', sometimes referenced by other commentators), and EPNE notes the distribution of place-names incorporating this element in the Danelaw and its usual combination with other ON elements as further evidence for Scandinavian origin.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(ONP )

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Dan bregne, Sw bräken

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



MED's citations begin c. 1300 and are predominantly, but not exclusively, N and E. It has also been identified as an element in Danelaw place-names (EPNE).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Cl 1675


MED brāke(n (n.) , OED bracken (n.1) , HTOED , Bj. 231-2, Mag burkn, burnki, Hellquist bräken, Nielsen bregne, EPNE *brakni