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Alternative forms




From Middle English arvell, from Old Norse erfiǫl (a funeral feast),[1] from arfr (inheritance) + öl (ale). Cognate with Danish arveøl (a wake, funeral feast). More at erf, ale.



arval (plural arvals)

  1. (Scotland and Northern England, now rare) A funeral feast or wake at which bread and ale was served, traditional in Scotland, the North of England, and among the Norse.
    • 1867, Memoirs of the Life of Mr. Ambrose Barnes, Late Merchant, page 65:
      It was customary in the north to have an arval or funeral dinner after an interment.
    • 2001, Christiaan Louis Leipoldt, Trevor Emslie, “Gallows Gecko”, in The Valley: a trilogy, page 204:
      Only one better feast do I remember, and that was when we gave the arval for the old master when he died of the dropsy. That was a feast if you like. Such a one had never been heard of in the Valley.
    • 2008, Susan Wittig Albert, The Tale of Briar Bank, →ISBN:
      “Is there to be an arval dinner?” The arval was the traditional funeral feast celebrated throughout the Land Between the Lakes. It was customary to invite all who had known the deceased.
  2. (rare, chiefly historical) The ale served at such a wake, the drinking of which was a ritually significant act in Norse culture.
    • 1883, Guðbrandur Vigfússon, Frederick York Powell, Corpus Poeticum Boreale: Eddic poems, page 55:
      [] Then quoth Hamtheow, etc.: 'We shall never come back to our mother [when we have slain the King of Goths]. Thou shalt drink the arval for us all together, for Swanhild and thy sons.'
    • 1960, Christopher Tolkien, The saga of King Heidrek the Wise, page 27:
      Hlod rode from the east, heir of Heidrek, he came to the court claiming his birthright, to Arheimar, the homes of the Goths; there drank Angantyrr arval for Heidrek. And so Hlod came to Arheimar []
    • 1994, Harry Harrison, The Hammer & The Cross, →ISBN, page 35:
      And so we shall drink the arval for Ragnar, drink like heroes.
  3. (Lancashire) The money given to hunters, at the death of a fox, in order to buy ale.

Usage notes

  • (funeral feast): This noun is frequently used attributively, as in arval supper, arval dinner, arval-bread, and so on.

Derived terms



  1. ^ arveøl” in Ordbog over det danske Sprog: "eng. dial. (laant fra nord.) arvall, arvel", English dial. (borrowed from Old Norse) arvall, arvel
  • John Christopher Atkinson, Glossary of the Cleveland Dialect (1868), page 10: Arval, sb. A funeral entertainment. 'In the North the funeral feast is called an arval or arvil-supper; ...'
  • Wright, Joseph (1898) The English Dialect Dictionary[1], volume 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press, page 77: Arval, sb. Sc. Cum. Wm. Yks. Lan. Obsol.