(1) ‘child’; (2) ‘warrior, knight, man’.

(Modern English (1) bairn)


The possibility of Norse input here relates to an emended form: (1) An occurrence of barne ‘child’ (see entry for barne) is introduced by emendation of MS <burne> at Gaw 2320 (‘Neuer syn þat he watz barne borne of his moder’) by Andrew (1930: 182), followed by AW and Silverstein. (2) All other editors (and see e.g. PS 2320n) are content to follow the MS and to print burne ‘warrior (etc.)’, < OE beorn (‘man; noble, hero, warrior’; cp. OIcel bjǫrn ‘bear’), and this reading does indeed seem entirely plausible.

PGmc Ancestor

(1)*ƀarnan; (2) *ƀernuz

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(1) barn 'child'
(ONP (1) barn (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(1) Far barn, Icel barn, Norw barn, Dan barn, Sw barn

OE Cognate

(1) bearn ‘offspring, descendant, child’

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



(1) see barne; (2) ME burne is dialectally widespread, but predominantly alliterative.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 2320

Vant does not emend the form at Gaw 2320, but wants to read MS <burne> ‘as a variant’ of ME barn ‘child’ (2320n).


(1) see barne; (2) MED bē̆rn (n.1) , OED berne (n.) , HTOED , Dance barne, DOE beorn, AEW beorn