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Runic Dictionary Entry for:


(OWN: þingalið), nt. n. 'battle-troop'


Deciphering the word took some time as earlier scholars (for example, Richard Dybeck) read þikalnþi and thought it must have meant Germany, representing a form such as *Þȳskaland.

According to John Lindow (1976: 76), the word refers to a large group of warriors functioning outside of the homeland and often sea-going, and furthermore it refers to Knútr’s retinue (Lindow 1976: 66; also Ruprecht 1958: 150 and Jansson 1987: 76).

The word þing does often mean assembly, explaining perhaps the translation of þingalið as ‘the Assembly’s retinue’ in Samnordisk runtextdatabas. However, as Peter Foote (1984) has shown, þing can, among many other things, mean ‘battle’, and therefore we could interpret þinga- (gen. pl. of þing) as signifying ‘of battles’, ‘of war’, giving us the meaning ‘troop dedicated to waging war’, ‘battle-troop’ for þingalið. This interpretation is more satisfactory than linking the word to Knútr’s immediate bodyguard (Jesch 2001: 192).

The only other occurrence of a similar word is in Sven Aggesøn’s Lex Castrensis (‘quam <cateruam> [= ‘a crowd, troop, band of men’] suo idiomate Tinglith placuit nuncupari’; Gertz 1917–22, I: 68; see also Christiansen 1992: 12, 33, 80).

The word may also need to be considered in relation to the common OWN term þingamannalið (Jesch 2001: 192-194).


CHRISTIANSEN, Eric, trans. and ed. 1992. The Works of Sven Aggesen, Twelfth-Century Danish Historian. London.
GERTZ, M. Cl., ed. 1917–22. Scriptores minores historiæ Danicæ medii. 2 vols (1. I–V [1917–18; repr. 1970]; 2. VI–XVI [1918–20; repr. 1970]). Copenhagen.
JANSSON, Sven B. F. 1987. Runes in Sweden. Stockholm.
LINDOW, John. 1976. Comitatus, Individual and Honor. Studies in North Germanic Institutional Vocabulary. University of California Publications in Linguistics 83. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
RUPRECHT, Arndt. 1958. Die ausgehende Wikingerzeit im Lichte der Runeninschriften. Palaestra 224. Göttingen.

Etymological Dictionary
AEW s.v. ‘þingamannalið’.
IEW s.v. ‘þing(a)mannalið’ [p. 1228].
ÍO s.v. ‘þing’, ‘lið’.

ON Dictionary
Cleasby and Vigfússon s.v. ‘þingalið’ (= ‘þingamannalið’).
Fritzner 1883-1896 s.v. ‘þingamannalið’.
Heggstad s.v. ‘þingamannalið’.

KLNM s.v. ‘Frälse’ (col. 684, Knútr’s ‘Þinglið’), ‘Hird’ (col. 578, Knútr’s ‘tinglid’), ‘Vederloven’ (col. 613, ‘Tinglith’).

Word forms and occurrences:

þingaliði(þingaliði),þikaliþi U668

Page last updated:
24 February 2009

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