A few weeks ago I posted about the Middle/Early Modern English word beget/begat/begot/begotten, especially as used in the King James/Authorised version of the bible. A book I am reading mentioned Anglo-Saxon/Old English translations of the bible, so I searched for those. The one I found was just of the gospels (Ða Halgan Godspel) (no original date given), so Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus is on pages 1 and 2. The equivalent word is gestrydne, which is obviously not related to any word I discussed in my previous post. This website of Anglo-Saxon words defines gestrynan as get, acquire; beget. Further, Jesus wæs accened of Mary. acennan is bear, give birth to, and is also obviously not related to anything. They are also not related to words in other Germanic languages; for example German zeugte and geboren, Dutch kreeg and geboren, Norwegian fikk (got, not anything else you might think (well, I did)) and blev fød (see Bible Gateway then select the language and translation from the top right dropdown list).

The Anglo-Saxon wordlist contains words which have retained their form to modern English and have the same or a similar meaning, words which are clearly equivalent given spelling changes and words which are clearly unrelated.

In the vicinity of gestrynan (which is filed under s) are:

same form, same or similar meaning
strand – seashore, strand
stream – current, river

spelling changes
stræt – street, road
strang – strong, powerful
strengðo – strength

stræl – arrow
stregan – scatter, strew
gestreon – property, treasure
stric – pestilence (apparently not related to strike/struck/stricken)
strudan – plunder, carry off
strudung – plundering, thievery, robbery

(Draw whatever conclusions you want about the nature of Anglo-Saxon society from that list!)

Wikipedia’s page on Old English says “Perhaps around 85% of Old English words are no longer in use, but those that survived are the basic elements of Modern English vocabulary” (citing Albert Baugh, A History of the English Language (1951)).

(Some of the words in the unrelated group may have cognates in other Germanic languages. I didn’t check them all.)


3 thoughts on “gestrynan

    • Maybe I should have said ‘no immediate relationship’. gives the etymology of strew as ‘Middle English strewen, Old English strewian; cognate with German streuen, Old Norse strā, Gothic straujan; akin to Latin sternere “to spread” (see stratum)’, so it would appear to be unrelated.

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  1. Pingback: No more unweder | Never Pure and Rarely Simple

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