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This list contains Icelandic words with their English translations. The words included here are those that you are likely to find in genealogical sources. If the word you are looking for (or some form of it) is not on this list, please consult an Icelandic-English dictionary.  (See the “Additional Resources” section below.)

Icelandic is a Germanic language like Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. It is the purest form of the “Old Norse” language that exists today. It was brought to the country by the Norsemen, who settled Iceland.  Icelandic has been a written language for more than 900 years and has remained relatively unchanged.

Iceland was under Danish rule until 1918. Records written before the mid 1800s may include Danish and some Latin words. Note that in the 1801 census, Danish and to some extent Latin, rather than Icelandic, are used throughout the text. See Danish Genealogical Word List and Latin Genealogical Word List.

Contents

LANGUAGE CHARACTERISTICS

Variant Forms of Words

In Icelandic, as in English, the forms of some words vary according to how they are used in a sentence.  Who—whose—whom and marry—marries—married are examples of words in English with variant forms.  The endings of a word in a document may differ from those in this list. For example:

gift marry gifting marriage
gifta to marry giftur married

Alphabetical Order

Written Icelandic uses the following letters not found in the English alphabet: á, ð, é, í, ó, ú, ý, þ, æ, ö. The letters þ, æ, and ö are alphabetized after z. This word list, like most Icelandic dictionaries and indexes, uses the following alphabetical order:

a á b c d ð e é f g h i í j k l m n o ó p q r s t u ú v w x y

ý z þ æ ö

If you do not find a word in the alphabetical order listed above, search forward and backward in the dictionary, index, or word list until you locate the word.

Spelling

Spelling rules were not standardized in earlier centuries. Words were written as they sounded.  Because Iceland was under Danish rule so long, and because many officials were Danish or had been educated in Denmark, Danish influence was prominent in vocabulary and style until the late eighteenth century.

In the 1703, 1801, and 1816 censuses and in the oldest church registers, the following phonetic or spelling variations are common:

b used for i used for j  
c used for k used for q
d used for t vand w used interchangeably
f used for

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

This word list includes only words most commonly found in genealogical sources. For more help, use an Icelandic-English dictionary. Several are available at the Family History Library in the International collection. The call numbers begin with 439.6321.

Some helpful dictionaries include:

Cleasby, Richard, et al. An Icelandic-English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957. (FHL book Scand 439.6321 C558li; not available on film or fiche.)

Bogason, Sigurður Örn. Ensk-Íslenzk Orðabók (English-Icelandic Dictionary). Reykjavik: Ísafoldarprentsmiðja H.F., 1976. (FHL book Scand 439.6321 B633e; film 0407215.)

The following English-Icelandic dictionary is available through most bookstores that carry Icelandic books:

Sören Sörenson. Ensk-íslensk orðabók með alfræðilegu ívafi. Reykjavík: Örn og Örlygur, 1984.

Additional dictionaries are listed in the Place search of the FamilySearch Catalog under

ICELAND—LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES—DICTIONARIES.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a free online Iclandic dictionary with readings that complements the University of Iceland's Internet course Icelandic Online, also a free online resource.

"Icelandic Online Dictionary and Readings." University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/IcelOnline. Accessed 11 February 2009. Cites Sverrir Hólmarsson; Sanders, Christopher; Tucker, John. Íslensk-ensk orðabók / Concise Icelandic-English Dictionary. Reykjavík: Iðunn, 1989. 536 p. 24 cm.

The University of Iceland offers a free access online course in Icelandic and Icelandic culture. Sign up for a free account at  http://icelandiconline.is/

KEY WORDS

In order to find specific types of information in Icelandic records, you will need to know some key words in Icelandic. This section lists key genealogical terms in English and the Icelandic words that convey the concept.

For example, in the first column you find the word marriage. In the second column you find Icelandic words with meanings such as married, married couple, bridal pair, and other words used in Icelandic records to indicate marriage.

English Icelandic
birth fæddur, fædd, fæddir, fæðingar
bride brúður
bridegroom brúðgumi
burials greftrun, begrafning, jarðarför, útför
census fólkstal, fólksfjöldatal, manntal, sálnaregistur
child barn
children börn
christenings skírður, skírn (nefndur [given a name], kallaður [given a name at christening])
civil district hreppur
confirmands fermdir, fermingarbörn
confirmation ferming
day dagur
deaths dáin, dánir, dauðir
engagement trúlofun
father faðir
illegitimate launbarn, óskilgetinn, óegta
marriage hjónaband, gifting, giftur, hjón, brúðhjón
minister prestur, séra, síra
mother móðir
move in innkomnir
move out burtfluttir, burtviknir, brottflutt named nefndur (given a name), kallaður (given a name at christening)
parents foreldrar
parish sókn
stillborn andvana fædd
wife kona, eiginkona
witnesses vitni, skírnarvottur
year ár

GENERAL WORD LIST

This general word list includes words commonly seen in genealogical sources, including words for occupations, illnesses, and causes of death. Numbers, months, and days of the week are listed both here and in separate sections that follow this list. Words in parentheses in the English column clarify the definition.

Icelandic English

Numbers

In Icelandic genealogical records, numbers are occasionally spelled out. This is especially true of dates. The following list gives the cardinal (1, 2, 3) and the ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd) versions of each number. In actual usage, days of the month are written in ordinal form.

Cardinal
Ordinal
1 einn 1st fyrstur
2 tveir 2nd annar
3 þrír 3rd þriðji
4 fjórir 4th fjórði
5 fimm 5th fimmti
6 sex 6th sjötti
7 sjö 7th sjöundi
8 átta 8th áttundi
9 níu 9th níundi
10 tíu 10th tíundi
11 ellefu 11th ellefti
12 tólf 12th tólfti
13 þrettán 13th þrettándi
14 fjórtán 14th fjórtándi
15 fimmtán 15th fimmtándi
16 sextán 16th sextándi
17 sautján 17th sautjándi
18 átján 18th átjándi
19 nítján 19th nítjándi
20 tuttugu 20th tuttugasti
21 tuttugu og einn 21st tuttugasti og fyrsti
22 tuttugu og tveir 22nd tuttugasti og annar
23 tuttugu og þrír 23rd tuttugasti og þriðji
24 tuttugu og fjórir 24th tuttugasti og fjórði
25 tuttugu og fimm 25th tuttugasti og fimmti
26 tuttugu og sex 26th tuttugasti og sjötti
27 tuttugu og sjö 27th tuttugasti og sjöundi
28 tuttugu og átta 28th tuttugasti og áttundi
29 tuttugu og níu 29th tuttugasti og níundi
30 þrjátíu 30th þrítugasti
31 þrjátíu og einn 31st þrítugasti og fyrsti
40 fjörutíu 40th fertugasti
50 fimmtíu 50th fimmtugasti
60 sextíu 60th sextugasti
70 sjötíu 70th sjötugasti
80 áttatíu 80th áttugasti
90 níutíu 90th nítugasti
100 hundrað 100th hundraðasti
1000 þúsund 1000th þúsundasti

Dates and Time

Use the terms in this section and the “Numbers” section to interpret dates.

Months of the Year

Icelandic English
janúar January
febrúar February
marz, mars March
apríl April
maí May
júní June
júlí July
ágúst August
september, 7ber September
október, 8ber October
nóvember, 9ber November
desember, 10ber December

Days of the Week

Icelandic English
sunnudagur Sunday
mánudagur Monday
þriðjudagur Tuesday
miðvikudagur Wednesday
fimmtudagur Thursday
föstudagur Friday
laugardagur Saturday

'

'

Seasons of the Year

Icelandic English
haust autumn, fall
vor spring
sumar summer
vetur winter

Times of the Day

Icelandic English
nón, síðdegi midafternoon, afternoon
hádegi noon, midday

A

aðkominn, aðkomnir arrivals, guests
af by
afi grandfather
aflausn public remission of sins
akur field
aldur age
amma grandmother
andaður, andaðir (plural) deceased (male), dead
andarteppa croup
andast die
andlega vanheill mentally deficient, weak-minded
andvana fæddur stillborn child
annar second
aphotækar pharmacist
apótekari pharmacy
apríl April
asmi asthma
auglýsing proclamation
austur east

Á

á on, at
á morgun tomorrow
áar ancestors
ágúst August
ái ancestor
ár year
átján eighteen
átjándi eighteenth
átta eight
áttatíu eighty
áttugasti eightieth
áttundi eighth

B

bakari baker
barkahósti croup
barn child
barna make pregnant
barnlaus childless
barnsæng childbed
bátsmaður boatman
bátur boat
beður bed
begrafn buried
beiningamaður beggar
berklaveiki tuberculosis
beykir cooper
blaðsíða page
blikksmiður tinsmith
blindur blind
blóðsótt dysentery
borg city
borgari citizen
bókari accountant
bókbindari book binder
bókhaldari bookkeeper
bóksali bookseller
bóla smallpox
bólga inflammation
bólusetja vaccinate
bóndi farmer
brenna burn
brenndur burned, burning
bréf letter, deed
brjóstsjúkdómur chest disease
brjóstþyngsli shortness of breath
bróðir brother
bróðursonur nephew (brother´s son)
brúðgumi bridegroom
brúðhjón bridal pair
brúður bride
bræður brothers
burtfluttir move out
búa live, reside
búandi resident
búsetumaður cottager, resident
búskapur farming
bústaður place of residence
bústýra housekeeper
bæjarnafn name of farm
bær farm, town
börn children

C

confirmeraður confirmed, confirmand

D

daglaunamaður day laborer
dagsetja date
dagur day
dalur valley
dauði death
dauður dead, died
dáinn dead, died
dánir dead, died
dáti soldier
desember, 10ber December
deyja die
diarrhe diarrhea
died
dóttir daughter
dótturdóttir grandchild (daughter´s daughter)
dóttursonur grandson (daughter´s son)
dráp murder, killing
drengur boy
drukknaði drowned

E

eftirlifendur survivors, heirs
eftirmiddagur afternoon
egta barn legitimate child
eiga, eiginn own
einn single, one
eitur poison
ekkill widower
ekkja widow
ekkjumaður widower
eldri older, elder
eldur fire
ellefti eleventh
ellefu eleven
elli old age
erfðaskrá probate record, testament
erfingi heir, survivor

F

fader (Danish) father
faðir father
fangelsi prison
far father
fara go away, move
fátækur poor
febrúar February
ferðast traveling through
ferma confirm
fermdur confirmed
ferming confirmation
fertugasti fortieth
fimm five
fimmtán fifteen
fimmtándi fifteenth
fimmti fifth
fimmtíu fifty
fimmtudagur Thursday
fimmtugasti fiftieth
fiskimaður fisherman
fjall mountain
fjórði fourth
fjórir four
fjórtán fourteen
fjórtándi fourteenth
fjörutíu forty
flogaveiki epilepsy
flogaverkur spasmic pain
fluttir moved (from parish)
flytja move
flytja af landi burt emigrate
flytja inn move in
foreldrar parents
fógeti sheriff
fólksfjöldatal census
fólkstal census
fóstra foster mother
fóstri foster father
fósturbarn foster child
fósturforeldrar foster parents
fótgönguliðsmaður infantryman
frá from
Frú Madame, Mrs.
frændsemispell incest
fyrstur first
fæða give birth to
fæddur born
föstudagur Friday

G

gamall old
garður garden, yard
garðyrkjumaður gardener
gata street
geðveikur insane
geit goat
giftast get married
gifting marriage
giftur married
gigt rheumatism, gout
gjalda pay
glófagjörðarmaður glove maker
grafinn buried
greftrun burial
griðkona servant (female)
griðmaður laborer, servant
guðfaðir godfather
guðfeðgin godparents
guðmóðir godmother
gula jaundice
gullsmiður goldsmith
gær yesterday
gömul old

H

hafnsögumaður harbor pilot
handsprengjumaður grenadier
hattamakari hatmaker
haust autumn, fall
hádegi noon, midday
háls throat
hálsbólga sore throat
heilablóðfall stroke
heima nefndur named (christened) at home
heimili house
hengdi hanged, hung
hengja hang
hermaður rural (land) soldier
hestur horse, pony
hjarta heart
hjartasjúkdómur heart disease
hjá by
hjálparmaður assistant
hjólasmiður wheelwright
hjón married couple
hjónaband marriage
hljóðfæraleikari musician
hór adultery
hreppstjóri local sheriff, overseer in a poor-law district
hreppur civil district, poor-law district
hundrað hundred
hundraðasti hundredth
hús house
húsamálari house painter
húsameistari builder, master builder
húsbóndi head of family
húsfaðir head of family
húsgagnasmiður cabinet maker
húsmóðir housewife, mistress of the house
hvaðan where from, place of birth
hvítasunna Pentecost
hæð hill
höfuðsvimi dizziness
höfuðverkur headache

I 

í in
iðnaðarmaður journeyman
iðnnemi apprentice
innfluttir move in
innkomnir moved into parish
innri inner
innvortis meinsemd internal disease

J

janúar January
jarða bury
jarðaður buried
járnsmiður blacksmith
jól Christmas
júlí July
júní June
jörð farm, land
jörðuð buried

K

kallaður named (christened)
kambskapari comb maker
karl male
karlkyns males
kaupmaður trader, merchant
kaupmáli deed
kirkja church
kirkjubækur church registers
kirkjusókn church parish
kíghósti whooping cough
klæðskeri tailor
kona woman, wife
konfirmera confirm
kotbóndi cottager
krabbamein cancer
kraftur strength (lack of)
kreppa cramp
kreppusótt scorbutic disease
kvenmaður woman, female
kvöld evening
kýr cow
kölluð named (christened)

L

land farm, land
landbúnaður agriculture, farming
landfarsótt epidemic
laugardagur Saturday
launbarn illegitimate child
lausn public remission of sins
leigjandi leaseholder, lodger
leiguliði leaseholder
lind water source (spring)
lífsýki diarrhea
lítill little, small, young
ljósmóðir midwife
lungnabólga pneumonia
lungnasótt lung disease
lægri lower
lækur stream, brook
lærður journeyman (literal meaning: learned)
lögmaður lawyer

M

maður man, husband
magaverkur stomachache
maí May
malari miller
mannanöfn names
manntal census
mágkona sister-in-law
mágur brother-in-law
málari painter
mánudagur Monday
mánuður month
mars, marz March
með with
meinsemd disease
mey barn female child
meyjar maidens, girls
miðvikudagur Wednesday
misferli accident, offense
mislingar measles
mínúta minute
morð murder
morgunn morning
móðir mother
móðurafi grandfather (mother´s father)
móðuramma grandmother (mother’s mother)
múrari mason

N

nafn name
námumaður miner
nefna name, named
nefndur named (christened)
nemi apprentice, student
nervefeber (Danish) nerve fever (possibly typhoid)
niðurgangur diarrhea
niðursetningur pauper
nítján nineteen
nítjándi nineteenth
nítugasti ninetieth
níu nine
níundi ninth
níutíu ninety
norður north
nón midafternoon
nótt night
nóvember, 9ber November
nýrnasjúkdómur kidney disease
nærkona midwife
nöfn names

O

óegta barn, óekta barn illegitimate child
og and
ógift unmarried, single (woman)
ógiftur, ókvæntur unmarried, single (man)
október, 8ber October
öld century
ölmusumaður living from charity
ómagi pauper
önduð deceased, dead (female)
ónefndur unchristened
öreiga destitute
orgelleikari organist
óskilgetinn illegitimate
óþekktur unknown

P

páskar Easter
pige (Danish) girl
piltar farmhands
piltur boy, boys
prentari printer
prestur clergyman, pastor, priest

R

refsað punished
riddaraliðsmaður cavalryman
riddari dragoon
ræningi robber, thief

S

samanvígð hjón married couple
sauðfé sheep
saurlífi fornication, adultery
sautján seventeen
sautjándi seventeenth
sálnaregistur soul register
september, 7ber September
sex six
sextán sixteen
sextándi sixteenth
sextíu sixty
sextugasti sixtieth
séra (Sra) Reverend
silfursmiður silversmith, goldsmith
síðdegi afternoon
síra (Sra) Reverend
sjálf own
sjálfseignabóndi freeholder
sjálfsmorð suicide
sjómaður sailor, fisherman
sjúkur sick
sjö seven
sjötíu seventy
sjötti sixth
sjötugasti seventieth
sjöundi seventh
skarlagen feber scarlet fever
skildu separated, divorced
skilgetinn legitimate (child)
skip ship
skipstjóri captain of a ship
skíra baptize, christen
skírdagur Maundy Thursday
skírður baptized
skírn baptism
skírnarvottur christening witnesses
skírteini certificate
skóari shoemaker
skógarvörður forester
skógur forest
skólakennari teacher
skósmiður shoemaker
skraddari tailor
skriflegt in writing
skyrbjúgur scurvy
skytta rifle soldier
slag stroke
slagaveiki apoplexy
slátrari butcher
slys accident
smali shepherd
smábær village
smiður smith
snikkari cabinetmaker
soldat soldier
sonarsonur grandson (son’s son)
sonur son
sókn church parish
sóknarkirkja parish church
sóknarmannatal parish register
sóknarprestur parish minister
Sra Reverend
staður place
steinhöggvari mason
steinsmiður stone mason
stjórnari manager
stjúpbarn stepchild
stjúpfaðir stepfather
stjúpi stepfather
stjúpmóðir stepmother
stríð war
stúlka girl
stúlkur girls
stýrimaður pilot, mate, navigator
stöðuvatn lake
suður south
sukkersyge diabetes
sumar summer
sunnudagur Sunday
sútari tanner
sveinbarn boy
sveinn boy, apprentice
sveitamaður farmer
sveitarlimur pauper
svin pig
synir sons
systir sister
systur sisters
systkin siblings
systkinabarn first cousins
sýsla county
sýslumaður county sheriff
söðlari saddler
söðlasmiður harness maker
sögunarmilla sawmill

T

taugaveiki typhoid
telpa young girl
tengdadóttir daughter-in-law
tengdafaðir father-in-law
tengdamóðir mother-in-law
tengdasonur son-in-law
til to, at
tilfelli accident, case
timburmaður carpenter
timbursmiður carpenter
tími hour, time
tinsmiður tinsmith
tíu ten
tíundi tenth
tólf twelve
tólfti twelfth
trésmiður carpenter
trúlofast get engaged
tugtmeistari warden
tuttugasti twentieth
tuttugasti og annar twenty-second
tuttugasti og áttundi twenty-eighth
tuttugasti og fimmti twenty-fifth
tuttugasti og fjórði twenty-fourth
tuttugasti og fyrsti twenty-first
tuttugasti og níundi twenty-ninth
tuttugasti og sjötti twenty-sixth
tuttugasti og sjöundi twenty-seventh
tuttugasti og þriðji twenty-third
tuttugu twenty
tuttugu og átta twenty-eight
tuttugu og einn twenty-one
tuttugu og fimm twenty-five
tuttugu og fjórir twenty-four
tuttugu og níu twenty-nine
tuttugu og sex twenty-six
tuttugu og sjö twenty-seven
tuttugu og tveir twenty-two
tuttugu og þrir twenty-three
tún field
tveir two
tvíburar twins
tærandi sýki consumption
tökubarn foster child

U

um on, about
umboðsmaður agent
ung young
ungbarn infant, young child
ungfrú Miss
unglingur youth, adolescent
ungur young
uppdráttur wasting sickness
úr of, from
útflytjandi emigrant

V

varðmaður watchman
vatn lake, water
vatnssýki dropsy
vefari weaver
vegur road
veikleiki ellinnar old age weakness
veitingamaður landlord, innkeeper
verkamaður workman, laborer
verkastúlka woman worker
verkur pain
vestur west
vetur winter
við on, at, in
vika week
vinnuhjú workers, farmhands, servants
vinnukona maidservant
vinnumaður laborer, farmhand (male)
vitni witness
vor spring
vottorð certificate
vottur witness

Y

yfirsetukona midwife
yngismaður young man
yngisstúlka young woman, girl
yngri younger
ytri outer


Þ

þjófur thief
þjóna serve
þjónn servant
þorp village
þrettán thirteen
þrettándi thirteenth
þriðjudagur Tuesday
þriðji third
þrir three
þrjátíu thirty
þrjátíu og einn thirty-one
þrítugasti thirtieth
þrítugasti og fyrsti thirty-first
þúsund thousand
þúsundasti thousandth

Æ

æði panic
æðislegur in panic
ægtabarn legitimate child
ægtaviigder married, marriages
æsing inflammation, agitation
ættfaðir ancestor

 

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