What I am looking for:

As my question suggests, I'm interested in words English has adopted from other languages. More specifically, I'm interested in old Celtic or Scandinavian (or other) loanwords that later succumbed to the influx of vocabulary of Norman/French origin. In other words, I'm interested in loanwords known to have been replaced by later loanwords. I will be grateful for any relevant references too.

(a) Loosening the constraints

If there are no or only very few known cases like that, I'm willing to loosen the constraints and extend the range to any later loanwords known to have replaced any other loanwords irrespective of their origin.

(b) Further loosening

And if this doesn't turn out to be fruitful either, well, then I'll be grateful for any analogical cases from languages other than English. Being a native speaker of Czech, I will be happy to have a look at my own mother tongue, of course, but it seems the picture was skewed by the artificial revitalization efforts of the National Revival.

One of the why's behind the what

One of the reasons why I'm asking this question is the general tendency of the relatively less stable ("cultural") vocabulary being replaced more easily than the relatively more stable ("basic") vocabulary. Now, if this assumption is correct, the following scenario seems quite imaginable:

  1. Given a contact situation whereby Language A undergoes lexical influence from Language B, after some time, most of the basic concepts in Language A still remain relatively intact, whereas the cultural lexicon has seen a significant influx of words from Language B. At this point, another player appears on the scene: Language C. The influence from Language B stops, no more loanwords can be adopted from it, and it is Language C that takes over the role of the major, perhaps only, lexical donor.

  2. Now, if the principle mentioned above really works, at least to some extent, Language C's impact on Language A's vocabulary is first witnessed in the cultural vocabulary. Then, however, it must also be some of the words originating from Language B that first fall victim to the flurry of C-cisms. With enough time, Language C can have such an impact on the lexicon of Language A that most or all of the loanwords from Language B fall out of use completely making Language A look as if there has never been any influence from Language B whatsoever, Language C being the sole source of it (by the way, I'm deliberately ignoring the non-lexical influence from Language B, which could still survive, perhaps).

Now, I've wondered to what extent this hypothetical situation could be compared to what happened in the history of English, if at all.

EDIT 1: As one of the answerers has pointed out (thank you!), English peace is a nice example of what I'm interested in. If anyone can provide other words or provide references to sources where they are listed, I will be deeply thankful.

EDIT 2: After some digging, I've been able to find a few mentions of Scandinavian loanwords here. I'll re-edit my question if necessary once I've finished reading it and looked up the references mentioned therein to see what information they can provide.

  • By the way, not that it is very relevant to my question, but someone has downvoted it, and I wonder what reasons they might have had. I'm relatively new to LSE, so any advice as to the more subtle "rules of conduct" around here may be helpful. Maybe my question is too silly or too useless for someone, but if I'm to discuss the above-mentioned contact phenomena in a paper, pieces of corroborating evidence are a must. And English seems a good place to look first, or second - after my own native language. Aug 20, 2015 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


The word peace (from the Old French ancestor of Fr. paix) replaced a few different words in Old English, some of which were of Old Norse origin.

For example, peace has historically been used of a treaty or truce (e.g. the 1783 treaty between Britain and the newly-independent United States is called the "Peace of Paris"). In this sense, Old English used a term grið, which is thought to come from Old Norse and be related to Icelandic grið "truce, mercy".

The more general term for "peace" in OE seems to have been frið, a cognate of German Frieden, Icelandic friður, etc. "peace", or sibb- (as in the verb gesibbian "pacify"), cognate with German Sippe "family, kinship group", Icelandic sifji "close relative", etc.

  • Many thanks! This is precisely the type of data I'm looking for. I'm not sure where to look next. Perhaps, I could use an etymological dictionary, but then I'd probably have to go through it entry by entry, which would be very time-consuming, I suppose (not to mention the fact the only etymological dictionary available to me now is [www.etymonline.com](www.etymonline.com), so if you happen to know of any other references that might list this kind of words, I'll also appreciate them. I never really studied English and my background is outside English philology, so any help is welcome. Aug 20, 2015 at 8:47

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