(1) breath; (2) 'fury'

(Modern English (1) breath)


Formally this word could be identified with two related lexemes, and its identification depends on how it is glossed in the context of Cl 915-6, in which Lot asks 'hov schulde I huyde me from hym þat hatʒ his gate kynned,/ in þe brath of his breth þat brenneʒ alle þinkeʒ?’: (1) GollCl and Menner (and AW) read 'breath', and thus identify it with the ME n. continuing OE brǣð ‘breath, odour, exhalation (etc.)’. (2) Morris, Anderson and MED (and Vant) read 'fury', which provides a better sense in context, and thus identify it with the ME n. derived from a related ON stem, cp. OIcel bræði 'anger, fury'. This ON fem. n. with i-mutation is formed on the adj. bráðr ‘immediate, sudden, harsh, fierce, rash' (see further broþe (adj.)).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(2) bræði 'anger, fury'
(ONP (2) bræði (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(2) Far bræði, Icel bræði, Norw bræde, OSw bræþe

OE Cognate

(1) brǣð ‘breath, odour, exhalation (etc.)’

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



(1) Common and widespread; (2) Citations in MED and OED, beginning with a1400(a1325) Cursor (Vsp A.3), are all N or Sc.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Cl 916

The glossing of this word in the context of Cl 916 depends on its identification (see etymological discussion).


(1) MED brēth (n.1) , OED breath (n.) , DOE brǣþ, AEW brǣđ; (2) MED brēth (n.2) , OED breth (n.) , HTOED , Bj. 89, de Vries bræði, Mag. bræði; see further broþe (adj.).