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This page lists words gotten from others through a sound change called umlaut (also known as i-mutation, i-umlaut, or front mutation). An example of a word gotten from umlaut is feed, which is clearly linked to food. Another example is mice, the plural of mouse.

What exactly caused this change in vowel? To put it simply, the change happened whenever the following syllable had i or j. For example, mice in Proto-Germanic was *mūsiz. In the transition to Old English, the z was lost, and later, because of the following i, the main vowel was changed, which led to *mȳsi. The final i was later dropped, which led to the Old English form *mȳs.

Many remnants of umlaut can be found in the present speech. Because sound changes have beclouded many of the original links, the Old English forms are given as well. All forms that are no longer used in current standard speech are put in bold. An asterisk before a form shows that the form has been reconstructed or is not attested in a given function in New English.

By the way, the word umlaut is from German; a calque thereof would be embloud, wherein emb (from OE ymbe) means around, and loud means sound. Another form for this would be umbloud, as umb appears to be simply a Norse variant of the prefix.

Vowel changes[edit]

The changes gotten from umlaut can be summarized thus:

Original vowel Mutated vowel
a, ā æ, ǣ
æ e
o, ō e, ē
u, ū y, ȳ
ea, ēa ie, īe
eo, ēo ie, īe


  • OE a before the nasal consonants (m and n) became e instead, e.g., mann (human) - menn.
  • Theoretically, the change of non-nasal a to æ should not have happened since a sound change called Anglo-Frisian brightening caused all instances of a to change to æ (including forms where umlaut would later happen). However, a was often analogically restored, whence all instances of non-nasal a to æ are analogical. Note that this applied only to the short vowel; the change of ā to ǣ was not unusual.
  • The change of e to i is not included here and theoretically should not have happened since in Proto-Germanic, e was already changed to i whenever it occurred before i or j (in other words, an early form of umlaut). For example, the OE adjective trȳwe (loyal; the word would later become true) and the derivative noun trȳwþ (loyalty; the word would later become truth) both originally had e in their Proto-Germanic forms, but they also had a following i that caused the vowel to become i (other sound changes led to ȳ in the OE forms). It is possible in some cases that e was analogically reintroduced in OE forms where umlaut would later apply, but there is no clear evidence of changes of e to i that happened in OE, so it is easier to assume that the change of e to i had already happened in Proto-Germanic.
  • Examples of the change of o to e are rare since Proto-Germanic did not have o; instead, o came from Proto-Germanic u. However, Proto-Germanic u was kept in forms where umlaut would later apply, which explains pairs such as OE gold and gyldan (gild).
    • One rare case of o to e was in OE dehter, the dative singular of dohtor (daughter). This is quite unexpected, since the Proto-Germanic forebear of dohtor had u, so the vowel in Old English would have changed into y, which would have yielded the form *dyhter. However, sometime before umlaut, the o in dohtor was analogically introduced to the dative singular form, which is why the vowel in that form mutated into e.
    • Note that this applied only to short o; the change of ō to ē was not unusual.
  • The change of ea to ie was present only in the West Saxon dialect; in other dialects, the umlauted vowel became e instead. Since our modern standard speech is mainly based on the Anglian dialect, the mutated forms that we have inherited come from the Anglian variants. For example, the West Saxon verbal derivative of tēam (offspring) was tīeman (give birth), but the Anglian variant was tēman, whence our modern word teem.
  • The change of eo to ie is trickier since there are two different sources of eo: the diphthong eo formed from OE e and Proto-Germanic eu, and the diphthong io formed from OE i and Proto-Germanic iu.
    • The diphthong eo (short only) did not exist in Proto-Germanic and was the result of OE sound changes. However, Proto-Germanic had eu, which developed into OE ēo. As with e, eo (both short and long) theoretically should not have occurred before i or j, though it is possible that eo was analogically reintroduced in forms where umlaut would later apply. Nonetheless, io became eo in most later variants of Old English, which thus undid the change.
    • The diphthong io (short only) did not exist in Proto-Germanic and was the result of OE sound changes. However, Proto-Germanic had iu, which developed into OE īo. In the West Saxon dialect, io (both short and long) changed to ie through umlaut. However, the original vowel io changed to eo in most later variants of Old English (including West Saxon), which created alternations such as frēond (friend) and the plural form frīend. In the Anglian dialect, on the other hand, umlaut never happened, and so io was left alone and generally became eo, as explained earlier.
  • The mutated vowels ie and īe later changed into y (or i) and ȳ (or ī), respectively. The later forms using y will be used here.
  • Derived forms characteristic of West Saxon are labeled WS. The Anglian variants can be inferred from those. In this instance, NE forms (be they reconstructed or not) are based on the Anglian variants (unless noted otherwise).
  • In a few cases, the form of either the umlauted derivative or the original word ended up taking over the other. For example, kiss was originally the verb gotten from a noun that would have become coss, but the form later became used for the noun as well. Here, the normal reflexes are recorded instead of the analogical ones.
  • Because of the following i or j, palatalization of the consonant happened, which is why for OE brōc (breeches), the plural form brēċ underwent palatalization before umlaut occurred, and the word later became breech. However, palatalization only affected the consonant that immediately went before historical i or j; it did not affect the consonant going before the umlauted vowel because umlaut happened after palatalization. Hence, for OE gōs, the plural form gēs later became geese and not *yeese.

Plural forms[edit]

Technically, the vowel change was originally not only a characteristic sign of the plural. In Old English, the vowel change was also found in the dative singular, and not all case forms in the plural showed such change. Nonetheless, this vowel change is now seen as a sign of the plural, so for convenience' sake, it is treated as such for the Old English forms.

OE singular OE plural NE singular NE plural
āc ǣċ oak *each
bōc bēċ book *beech
brōc (breeches) brēċ *brook *breech
burg (city) byrg borough *birry
cow kye
fēond (foe) fȳnd (WS) fiend *fiend
fōt fēt foot feet
frēond frȳnd (WS) friend *friend
furh (fir) fyrh *furrow *firrow
gāt gǣt goat *geat
gōs gēs goose geese
hnutu hnyte nut *nit
lūs lȳs louse lice
mann (human) menn man men
mūs mȳs mouse mice
studu (post) styde stud *stid
sulh (plow) sylh sullow *sillow
tōþ tēþ tooth teeth
turf tyrf turf *turf


  • The umlauted plurals of oak, book, and borough had undergone palatalization in OE. Of course, it is possible that if they had survived, they would have been influenced by the consonant in the singular later on; for example, the modern umlauted plural of oak might be *eak instead.
  • OE brēc was the plural of brōc, and early on, the plural form breech was reinterpreted as a singular. In turn, breech was later displaced by the double plural form breeches in its usual meaning. Moreover, breech also acquired the meaning of buttocks (one body part that breeches cover), which later led to its current meaning of back part.
  • OE brōþor (meaning brother) generally showed mutation only in the dative singular; the form brēþer was seldom found in the plural and appears to have been formed by analogy with nouns with vowel mutation in both the plural nominative and the dative singular. The mutated plural, brether, later was used with the -en plural ending, which yielded brethren, a double plural, and it is now used as the plural of brother only in some meanings.
  • OE byrg would have normally become *birry as an independent word, but it lives on only as -bury, an element in place names such as Canterbury. The vowel in -bury is due to occasional rounding of y to u in Middle English, as shown in words such as crutch (< OE cryċċ). In these names, -bury historically represents not the plural but the dative singular, as many place names were often used in the dative.
  • The mutated plural of cow became kye, which is still used in some dialects. In standard speech, the -en plural ending was later added, which yielded kine, a double plural, but it is now archaic.
  • OE ding, a variant of dyng, was the dative singular of *dung (meaning dungeon).
  • OE ēa (river) showed mutation in the genitive and dative singular form īe (the non-West Saxon form was ē).
  • OE fyrh and grȳt were the dative singular forms of furh (furrow) and grūt (coarse meal; the word later became grout). Note that OE furh meaning fir has an attested mutated plural form.
  • OE niht (night) originally was one of these nouns. In West Saxon, neaht was the base form, and niht (from earlier nieht) the umlauted plural. However, the umlauted form niht was already generalized throughout the paradigm. In Anglian, on the other hand, the normal form was usually unmutated næht, the variant neht being from the original umlauted form. The modern form night is from the umlauted forms, i.e., West Saxon niht and Anglian neht. Had the original unmutated form survived, it would have become *naught. Moreover, because of the generalization of the umlauted form, the singular and the plural were night at first. The word later gained the plural form nights, and the uninflected plural is preserved in the words sennight (originally seven-night) and fortnight (originally fourteen-night).
  • OE þrūh (meaning pipe or tomb) showed the expected vowel change in þrȳh, the dative singular, though it is not attested in the nominative plural. The word later became through and is found in some dialects with the meaning of horizontal gravestone.
  • OE wlōh (fringe) has a plural form attested in a Northumbrian text as wlœ̄h. OE *wlēh is a reconstructed West Saxon form.
  • Woman (OE wīfmann) is etymologically a compound of wife (originally meaning woman) and man (originally meaning human), but the present form is special, as the plural shows a vowel change in the first syllable. This change, however, is not an example of umlaut. Originally, one variant of woman was influenced by the foregoing w, and the vowel later became /ʊ/, whereas another variant remained uninfluenced, and the vowel later became /ɪ/. The two variants were used together for some time before the /ʊ/ variant became restricted to the singular, and the /ɪ/ variant to the plural (perhaps by analogy with pairs such as mouse-mice).


Verbs gotten from nouns:

OE noun OE verb NE noun NE verb
āl (fire) ǣlan (kindle) *ole *eal
āþ -ǣþan (make an oath) oath *eathe
blōd blēdan blood bleed
bōt (remedy) bētan (improve) boot beet
brord (prick) bryrdan (goad) *brord *brird
brōd brēdan brood breed
camb cemban (comb) comb kemb
ċēap (trade) ċȳpan (WS, sell) cheap *cheep
clām (clay) clǣman (smear) cloam cleam
cnotta cnyttan knot knit
coss (kiss) cyssan *coss kiss
dōm (judgment) dēman doom deem
drēam (joy) drȳman (WS, rejoice) *dream *dreem
ēaġe ȳwan (WS, show) eye *ew
fām fǣman (foam) foam *feam
flōd -flēdan (flow) flood *fleed
fōda fēdan food feed
frōfor (comfort) frēfran (comfort) *froover *frever
gold gyldan gold gild
hand -hendan (seize) hand hend
hām hǣman (have sex with) home *heam
hān (boundary stone) hǣnan (stone) hone *hean
hōl (slander) hēlan (slander) *hool *heel
hramma (cramp) hremman (hinder) *ram *rem
hrāca (spittle) hrǣċan (spit) *roke *reach
hrōf hrēfan (roof) roof *reeve
hrōp (outcry) hrēpan (cry out) *roop *reep
hungor hyngran (hunger) hunger *hinger
land lendan (arrive) land lend
lāst (track) lǣstan (follow) *loast last
lēaf (permission) lȳfan (WS, permit) leave *leeve
lēoht lȳhtan (WS) light light
lust (desire) lystan (desire) lust list
mold (earth) -myldan (bury) mold *mild
morþor (murder) -myrþran (murder) *morther murther
mōt mētan moot meet
ōht (persecution) ēhtan (pursue) *ought *ight
rāp rǣpan (bind with a rope) rope *reap
sāl (rope, cord) sǣlan (fasten with a cord) sole seal
sċand (shame) sċendan (disgrace) *shand shend
sċrūd (clothing) sċrȳdan (clothe) shroud *shride
sōþ (truth) sēþan (prove) sooth *seethe
spor (track) spyrian (investigate) *spore *spir
stān stǣnan (stone) stone stean
stēam stȳman (WS, emit vapor) steam *steem
storm styrman (storm) storm *stirm
swāt (sweat) swǣtan *swoot sweat
talu tellan tale tell
tācn tǣcnan (show) token *teaken
tēam (offspring) tȳman (WS, give birth) team teem
tēona (vexation) tȳnan (WS, vex) teen teen
tūdor (progeny) tȳdran (propagate) *touder *tider
tūn (enclosure) tȳnan (enclose) town tine
þæc (roof) þeċċan (cover) thack thetch
þurst þyrstan thirst thirst
wamm (stain) wemman (stain) *wam wem
wāþ (wandering, hunting) wǣþan (hunt) *woath *weathe
wearg (monster) wyrgan (WS, curse) *warrow warry
weorc wyrċan (WS) work work
weorþ wyrþan (WS, estimate) worth *worthe
wōm (sound) wēman (persuade) *woom *weem
wōs wēsan (ooze) ooze weeze
wūsc (wish) wȳsċan *wusk wish


  • The OE verb ǣlan has not survived in its base form, but it lives on in the derivative anneal (OE onǣlan).
  • Boot meaning remedy is now archaic, but it is still found in the phrase to boot.
  • Kemb, the verbal derivative of comb, is still found in the past participle adjective unkempt (untidy, disheveled); modern kempt is a backformation from unkempt.
  • The modern word dot seems to have come from Old English dott (meaning head of a boil), though it is not attested at all in Middle English and begins to be attested again in the late 16th century. The dialectal verb dit meaning close is from Old English dyttan and may be derived from dott.
  • It is unclear whether OE drēam is the source of the modern word dream, as the meaning of dream is unattested in OE (though it is still possible that it was present, but simply unattested). The meaning of sleeping vision begins to be attested in Middle English and was due to or strengthened by Old Norse influence.
  • OE *flēdan is attested in the derivative oferflēdan (overflow) and the adjective fiþerflēdende (flowing in four parts). The base verb is attested in Middle English as fleden.
  • OE *ǣþan, *hendan, *myldan, and *myrþran are attested only in geǣþan, gehendan, bemyldan, and formyrþran.
  • The modern word murder shows a consonantal shift that was likely strengthened by Anglo-Norman forms; the shift may still be native, however, as seen in burden, OE byrþen.
  • The word sale corresponds to sell as tale does to tell, but sale is a borrowing from Old Norse rather than an Old English word inherited from Proto-Germanic. However, it seems that if the word had been passed on to Old English, it would have become *salu, which would have become modern sale anyway.
  • OE þeċċan would have normally yielded thetch (which variant lived up to Early New English), but the verb's vowel was later influenced by the noun's vowel, so the verb became thatch. The noun also became thatch from influence of the verb.
  • The vowel in tellan is based on an older form that had æ.
  • The OE verb wyrċan would have normally become worch (now a dialectal variant). The current form for the verb appears to have mainly come from Norse influence (see here for more).
  • OE wusc probably had /sk/, though inflected forms with a front vowel such as wusċes had /ʃ/, so either form could have been leveled throughout the paradigm, just as OE tusc yielded both tusk (the base form) and tush (now a dialectal variant from inflected forms such as tusċes). In this case, however, neither form has survived, as the noun wish was formed from the verb later.

Verbs gotten from adjectives:

OE adjective OE verb NE adjective NE verb
beald byldan (WS, embolden) bold bield
beorht byrhtan (WS, brighten) bright bright
blanc (white) blenċan (deceive) *blank blench
blāc (pale) blǣċan *bloke bleach
brād brǣdan (spread) broad bread
cōl cēlan (cool) cool keel
cūþ (known) cȳþan (make known) couth kithe
dēad dȳdan (WS, kill) dead *deed
drōf (troubled) drēfan (trouble) *droof *dreeve
eald yldan (WS, delay) old *eld
earm (poor) yrman (WS, afflict, vex) arm *erm
fāh (colored) fǣġan (paint) *fow *fay
frōd (wise) frēdan (perceive) *frood *freed
fūl fȳlan (corrupt) foul file
fūht (moist) fȳhtan (moisten) *fought *fight
fūs (eager) fȳsan (send forth) *fouse *fise
full fyllan full fill
ġeorn (eager) ġyrnan (WS, desire) yern yearn
hāl hǣlan whole heal
hāt hǣtan hot heat
heald (inclined) hyldan (WS, incline) *hold hield
heard hyrdan (WS, harden) hard *herd
hēan (abject) hȳnan (WS, humiliate) *hean *heen
hlanc -hlenċan (twist) lank *lench
-hlēow (warm) hlȳwan (WS, warm) lew lew
hlūd hlȳdan (sound) loud *lide
hrōr (active) hrēran (move) *roor *rere
hwæt (vigorous) hwettan *whate whet
læt lettan (hinder) late let
lang lengan (lengthen) long linge
lēas (destitute) lȳsan (WS, set free) lease leese
lēoht lȳhtan (WS, allievate) light light
rōt (glad) rētan (gladden) *root *reet
rūm (roomy) rȳman (clear up) room rime
sċearp sċyrpan (WS, sharpen) sharp sherp
smōþ smēþan (smooth) smooth smeeth
-sōm (united) sēman (reconcile) *soom *seem
strang -strengan (strengthen) strong *stringe
stunt (foolish) styntan (make blunt) stunt stint
trum (strong) trymman (strengthen) *trum trim
upp yppan (make known) up *ip
wāc (weak) wǣċan (weaken) *woak *weach
wearm wyrman (warm) warm *werm
wōd (mad) wēdan (become mad) wood *weed
wrāþ wrǣþan (anger) wroth *wreathe


  • The modern word blank is not a survival of the Old English word but a borrowing from Old French, but the French borrowing is from the same Germanic source.
    • The derived blench now is an intransitive verb meaning flinch, which seems to be due to influence from blink.
  • The word couth used in standard speech is not a survival of the original adjective but a backformation from uncouth, which originally meant unknown and now means unrefined.
  • The verb file meaning corrupt is no longer used, but it is commonly found in the derivative defile.
  • OE *hlēow is attested only in derivatives such as unhlēow (chill). The adjective later came to have the meaning of tepid, and it may be related to the first element of lukewarm.
  • OE *hlenċan is attested only in gehlenċan.
  • OE *sōm is attested only in gesōm (unified).
    • The modern verb seem is a borrowing from Old Norse, but is ultimately connected to the adjective, as it originally meant be suitable and gradually came to mean appear.
  • OE *strengan is attested only in gestrengan and ætstrengan (deforce).


Nouns gotten from adjectives and nouns with the addition of the -th suffix.

OE word OE noun NE word NE noun
earg (cowardly) yrgþu (WS, cowardice) *arrow *erth
earm (poor) yrmþu (WS, poverty) arm *ermth
fāh (hostile) fǣhþu (feud) foe *faught
frum (original) frymþ (origin) *from *frimth
fūl fȳlþ foul filth
ġesund ġesynto (soundness) sound *sint
hāl hǣlþ whole health
hēan (abject) hȳnþu (WS, humiliation) *hean *henth
hēah hȳhþo (WS) high height
lang lengþu long length
rūm (roomy) rȳmþ (space) room *rimth
slāw slǣwþ (sloth) slow sleuth
strang strengþu strong strength
þēof þȳfþ (WS) thief theft
wearg (monster) wyrgþu (WS, curse) *warrow *werth
wrāþ wrǣþþu wroth wrath


  • The OE noun fǣhþu would have become faught; the cluster became ht in Middle English, as seen in height (OE hēhþo) and sight (OE sihþ), and the vowel would have changed to yield faught, as seen in the Middle English word aughte (OE ǣht meaning possession).
  • Sleuth was later replaced by sloth, which was formed directly from slow in Middle English.

Other nouns:

OE adjective OE noun NE adjective NE noun
beald byldu (WS, boldness) bold bield
beorht byrhto (WS, brightness) bright bright
brād brǣdu (breadth) broad bread
ceald ċyldu (WS, coldness) cold *chield
cūþ (known) cȳþ (knowledge, homeland) couth kith
eald yldu (WS, age) old eld
full fyllu full fill
grēat grȳto (WS, greatness) great *greet
hāl hǣlu (health) whole heal
hāt hǣtu hot heat
heald (inclined) hylde (WS, slope) *hold hield
lang lengu (length) long *linge
manig menigu (multitude) many many
snotor (wise) snytro (wisdom) *snoter *snitter
strang strengu (strength) strong *stringe
wrāþ wrǣþu (wrath) wroth *wreathe


  • Bread was later replaced with breadth by analogy with nouns such as depth, strength, and length. It is still found in waybread, a name for the Eurasian plantain.
  • The Anglian form of yldu would have normally yielded *ield (rhyming with wield); the current vowel may have been due to analogy with elder and eldest.
  • Proud and pride are clearly related, and their OE forms are prūd and prȳde (more commonly prūt and prȳte), but since proud is said to have been a late Old English borrowing from Old French, it seems that pride was formed by analogy with umlauted words inherited from Proto-Germanic.

Feminine nouns made with the -en suffix:

OE noun OE feminine NE noun NE feminine
ġeþofta (companion) þyften (female servant) *thoft *thiften
god gyden god *gidden
mann (servant) mennen man *mennen
munuc myneċenu monk minchen
nēahġebūr nēahġebȳren neighbor *neighbirn
sċealc (servant) sċylċen (WS) *shalk *shelchen
þēow (slave) þȳwen (WS) *thew *thewn
wearg (monster) -wyrgen (WS) *warrow *werrien
wulf wylfen wolf *wilven


  • The only remnant of the Germanic feminine ending is vixen, which is the feminine of fox and is gotten from OE *fyxen. The word became fixen (which lived up to Early New English), but in the southern dialects, the initial consonant was voiced (which is also seen in vat and vane), and for whatever reason, the southern variant vixen ended up replacing fixen as the standard form. Note that a separate word fyxen is attested in OE, and this fyxen was an adjectival formation from fox (see below).
  • The feminine of wearg is attested only in grundwyrgen, which is used in Beowulf to describe Grendel's mother. Also, *wyrgen shows palatalization, whence the consonant in the feminine differs from that in warg.
  • The etymology of chicken (< OE ċycen) is uncertain. The suffix does not appear to be a feminine suffix but a diminutive suffix. It does not appear that the base word was cock (< OE cocc), because such a diminutive in OE would have been *cyċen (since palatalization from the vowel in the suffix would have affected only the second consonant), and the word would have later become *kitchen. The forms in other Germanic languages suggest that the Proto-Germanic vowel for chicken was iu, and the base word was a different word that was probably ultimately related to cock. Moreover, OE ċycen should have shown palatalization in the second consonant, and the word would have normally become *chichen; the lack of palatalization is thus unexpected. The /k/ may have been due to dissimilation.

Nouns (instrumental or diminutive) made with the -le suffix.

OE word OE derivative NE word NE derivative
bod (order) bydel (herald) bode *biddle
corn cyrnel corn kernel
þūma þȳmel (fingerstall) thumb thimble


  • OE bydel was later influenced in form by Old French bedel, whence the current word beadle.


Comparative and superlative forms:

OE adjective NE adjective
eald, yldra, yldest (WS) old, elder, eldest
feorr, fyrra, fyrrest (WS) far, *firrer, *firrest
ġeong, ġingra, ġinġest young, *yinger, *yingest
hēah, hȳrra, hȳhst (WS) high, hear, hext
lang, lengra, lenġest long, lenger, lengest
sċeort, sċyrtra, sċyrtest (WS) short, *shirter, *shirtest
strang, strengra, strenġest strong, *strenger, *strengest


  • Because ld normally lengthened the foregoing vowel, the normal development of the Anglian form of yldest would have yielded *ieldest (rhyming with (thou) wieldest). The short vowel may have been adopted from elder, in which the consonant cluster ldr blocked the lengthening.
  • The eo in ġeong appears to have been not a true diphthong but an orthographic convention that stood for u and showed that the consonant was a palatal; had it been a true diphthong, the word would have later become yeng instead. The mutated forms showed i instead of y since i apparently was commonly substituted for y after palatal consonants.
    • Likewise, the e in sċeort appears to have been orthographic.
  • The comparative OE grēat is attested as grȳtra (the West Saxon variant), but the superlative only begins to be attested in Middle English. Presumably, the OE superlative was *grȳtest.
  • The mutated comparative of OE brād (broad) is attested as brǣdra, but the mutated superlative *brǣdest is unattested (but the regular superlative is).
  • OE lengra and lenġest would have normally become linger and lingest since e regularly becomes i before ng. Perhaps the original vowel was kept because of influence from length (which itself probably kept its e because of forms wherein the g was dropped before the g was later restored by analogy with long). Presumably, the same would have applied to the forms for strong.
  • OE nēah (nigh) had a mutated superlative nȳhst, and the Anglian variant later became next. The comparative was nēarra and not *nȳrra, but the comparative form of the adverb is attested as nȳr.

Adjectives made with the -en suffix:

OE noun and adjective NE noun and adjective
āc, ǣċen oak, *eachen
ātor (poison), ǣtren atter, *ettren
box (boxwood), byxen box, *bixen
copor, cyperen copper, *kippern
dūst, dȳstiġ dust, *disty
fox, fyxen fox, *fixen
gold, gylden gold, gilden
stān, stǣnen stone, *steanen
trēow (WS), ‎trȳwen (WS) tree, *trewn
wulf, wylfen wolf, *wilven
wull, wyllen wool, *willen


  • NE tree is not from OE trēow (the usual West Saxon form) but from the OE variant trēo. However, the derivative adjective always had a w, so the modern form would be *trewn; the later form treen shows influence from the noun.

Adjectives made with the -ish suffix:

OE noun and adjective NE noun and adjective
Angel, Englisċ *Angle, English
Franc(an), Frenċisċ Frank, French
inland, inlendisċ (native) inland, *inlendish
mann (human), mennisċ man, *mennish
mearc, myrcisċ (WS) mark, *Merchish
Sċot(tas), Sċyttisċ *Shot, *Shittish
ūtlend, ūtlendisċ (foreign) outland, *outlendish
wealh, wylisċ (WS) *Wallow, Welsh


  • OE Angel is attested only as a prefix meaning Anglo-.
  • OE Frenċisċ would have normally yielded *Frenchish, but the ending was later dropped.
  • OE myrcisċ (Mercian) might have later undergone shortening and become something like *Merch instead. Likewise, OE Sċyttisċ could have become *Shitch or *Shotch (leveling the vowel from the noun), just as Scottish has Scotch as a (now dated) contracted form.
  • OE Sċot(tas) (a borrowing from Latin Scotus) showed palatalization, as shown with OE spellings such as Sceotta (in which e was an orthographic device to mark palatalization) and occasional ME forms such as Schottys. The /k/ in the modern forms is of uncertain origin, as it may show Norse or French influence (since forms in those languages use /sk/) or a later reborrowing of the Latin word. The /k/ variant was predominant in ME, even in the southern dialects, which preferred palatal variants.

Adjectives made with the -y suffix:

OE base and adjective NE base and adjective
ātor (poison), ǣtrig atter, *ettery
god, gydig (mad) god, giddy
sundor (separately), syndry (separate) sunder, sindry


  • OE syndry was later altered and became sundry by analogy with the now obsolete adverb sunder (related to the verb sunder and the adverb asunder).

Ablaut derivatives[edit]

See here.