adj., n.

(1) 'going astray, erring, going wrong'; (2) 'wilfulness' (Modern English will)


The identification of <wylle> at Cl 76 ('more to wyte is her wrange þen any wylle gentyl') varies depending on how the phrase 'wylle gentyl' is interpreted. (1) If it is taken as 'error', it can be explained as an ON loanword in one of two ways (depending on whether it is interpreted as an adj. or n. in context): (a) If it is an adj. modifying a n. 'gentyl', than it can be identified with ME wylle (adj.) (thus OED); (b) GollCl (followed by McGee), however, reads it as a n. and glosses 'perversity', and thus suggests a borrowing from the ON n. represented by OIcel villa 'going astray; error, falsehood', formed on the adj. villr ‘wild; bewildered, erring, astray’ as at (a). (2) Menner (76n), however, objects to the first interpretation on the grounds that the context calls for a contrast with 'wrange' and argues instead that this is an instance of the common ME n. wil(le), continuing OE willa 'mind, will, desire, purpose' (< PGmc *weljōn 'will', cp. Go wilja, OIcel vili, OFris willa, OS willio, OHG willo) and will (< PGmc *welan, cp. OIcel wil 'self-will, wilfulness', OS will 'will'). Anderson accepts this etymology, and his gloss 'gentile wilfulness' is to be preferred to Menner's 'heathen rage' (thus McGee 425, Vant, Olsen etc.).

PGmc Ancestor

(1) *welþjaz; (2)*weljōn, *welan

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(1a) villr (adj.) ‘wild; bewildered, erring, astray’; (1b) villa (n.) 'going astray; error, falsehood'
(ONP (1a) villr (adj.); (1b) villa (1) (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(1a) Far villur, Icel villur, Norw vill, ODan willær, wild(ær), Dan vild, OSw vildær, Sw vill, vild; (1b) Far villa, Icel villa, Norw villa, Sw villa

OE Cognate

(1a) wilde 'wild, untamed, uncontrolled'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



(1a) Mainly N and E in ME, but also the Irish text a1500 Conq.Irel.(Rwl B.490)); modern Sc. dial.; (1b) This would potentially be a hapax legomenon, though cp. OED's wil (n.2) for other possible instances of an ME n. formed on the adj. as at (a). (2) Common and widespread.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Cl 76

On the various interpretations of the sense in the context of Cl 76, see etymological discussion.


(1a) MED wil (adj.) , OED will (adj. (and adv.)) , HTOED , EDD will (adj., adv., v.1 and sb.2) Dance wylle, Bj. 170, de Vries villr, Mag. villur, Bj-L. vill, Heid. welþja-, Orel *welþjaz, Kroonen *welþja-, AEW wilde; (1b) de Vries villa, Mag. villa; (2) Orel *weljōn, *welan, Kroonen *weljan- (2), AEW will, willa