'break in two' (Modern English )


Perhaps continuing OE toberstan 'burst apart, shatter, go to pieces', although the absence of metathesis may indicate Old Norse input, cp. brestes (v.). The concentration of forms without metathesis in the N, E and Midlands provides some circumstantial evidence in favour of this possibility.
See further brestes (v.).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

bresta ‘crack, crash; snap, break, be split open; give way, break loose (etc.)’
(ONP bresta (1) (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

OE Cognate

toberstan 'burst apart, shatter, go to pieces'

Phonological and morphological markers


absence of metathesis

] (possibly diagnostic)

Summary category



Forms of the v. without metathesis first occur in Orrm and continue to be concentrated in N, E and Midlands texts in MED's citations. See also brestes (v.).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

WA 640


MED tọ̄̆bresten (v.) , OED to-burst (v.) , HTOED ; see further brestes (v.).