From Proto-Germanic *mann-, whence also Old English mann, Old High German man.


Descendants Old English: mann, man; manna English: man Old Frisian: man, mon West Frisian: man Old Saxon: man Old Dutch: man Dutch: man, men Afrikaans: man Old High German: man German: Mann, man Old Norse: maðr Icelandic: maður Faroese: maður Norwegian: mann Old Swedish: maþer, mander, man Swedish: man Old Danish: man Danish: mand Gothic: (manna)

Old Norse must have undergone some kind of sound change, otherwise the "d" would be remained in other branches, including English.

Or it is just an element form another Old Norse word? Moreover, the "r" is also unknown to me.

Is there any other example?

  • 2
    the cluster -nr- often becomes -ndr- with epenthetic /d/. Oct 13, 2012 at 19:40
  • @MarkBeadles Thank you!! Another problem to me is the intrusive "r", I hope to find out why it's also there.
    – archenoo
    Oct 14, 2012 at 9:58
  • 2
    That's not intrusive - -r is a masculine nominative infection in e.g. Old Norse. Oct 14, 2012 at 16:54
  • 1
    @MarkBeadles Thanks a lot, the function of "r" becomes clear, Thank you again!
    – archenoo
    Oct 15, 2012 at 14:24
  • Interesting. Sort of the opposite of linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/2650/…. Oct 15, 2012 at 22:33

2 Answers 2


In Old Norse, the sequence -nnr(-) becomes -ðr(-). It's just a rule of Old Norse. You'll find it described in any grammar of Old Norse.


Even though this was answered a long time ago, I feel there is a need for clarification. As Sverre mentioned, -nnr- becomes -ðr- in Old Norse per regular rule, but this is often avoided: words like Proto-Germanichanþaz (clever, sharp, "quick") gave Old Norse hannr, then *­swinþaz (strong) giving svinnr, as well as *­minniz (small in quantity) giving minnr. This isn't that frequent, with not a lot of words featuring no alternative form that has -ðr-. It's also noteworthy that many Norse words can take either the -ðr- or -nnr- form and in many cases they can even alternate without any visible pattern. Icelandic and Faroese usually have words that reflect the -nnr- variety but -ðr- can also sometimes pop up here and there, and, even in some cases, such as with "annar" in both languages, we can see a complex (yet in this case regular) alternation between the two forms.

  • You also find sviðr and miðr. svinnr and minnr have an analogically reinstated nn from other forms of the paradigm. There is, as far as I know, no Old Norse word *hannr.
    – Sverre
    Nov 11, 2014 at 12:59
  • I wasn't aware of sviðr and miðr, and hannr is attested as part of sjónhannr as I've seen here: books.google.de/…
    – Darkgamma
    Nov 11, 2014 at 13:02
  • Miðr even exists in Modern Icelandic as a perfectly normal word: it’s the second part of the very common expression því miður ‘unfortunately’. It’s not part of the ‘less’ paradigm, though. Jun 4, 2018 at 11:54
  • @JanusBahsJacquet that miður looks like it's etymologically from *midjaz, though; it's not cognate
    – Darkgamma
    Jun 17, 2018 at 1:38
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    @Darkgamma I don’t think so. I realise Wiktionary says so, but I don’t think it’s right. That’s a different miður, which means (and is cognate with) ‘middle’. It would be highly unexpected if this miður were etymologically the same, given all the other comparatives of lítill/lítt which have minn- as their root. Incidentally, I was wrong before: miður isn’t part of the adjectival minni (‘less’, comparative of lítill) paradigm, but it is the comparative of adverbial lítt, so it is part of the ‘less’ paradigm; the superlative is minnst. Jun 17, 2018 at 8:45

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