The absence of metathesis suggests that ME brest
probably derives from ON, cp. OIcel brestr
'crash, crack, defect, loss', rather than OE byrst
'loss, calamity, injury, defect' (< PGmc *ƀrestuz
, cp. OHG bresto
'destruction, damage'). The n. is derived from the st. v. *ƀrestan-
'to burst', cp. OE berstan
, OFris bersta
, OS, OHG brestan
, OIcel bresta
. A variety of spellings occur in ME with and without metathesis and with different vocalism (with and without the raising of e
), and it is not always clear what individual forms owe to ON or OE input, or to some combination of the two (cp. the forms cited under OED
(n.) and MED
(n.), and see the comments in Bj. 183).
Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)
brestr 'crash, crack, defect, loss'
(ONP brestr (sb.))
Other Scandinavian Reflexes
Far brestur, Icel brestur, Norw brest, Dan brist, OSw bräster, braster
byrst 'loss, calamity, injury, defect'
Phonological and morphological markers
absence of metathesis