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Old English


Alternative forms




Possibly borrowed or calqued from Old Norse víkingr (pirate), itself from Old Norse vík (inlet) + -ingr (one belonging to”, “one who frequents). In any case, equivalent to wīċ +‎ -ing. Compare Old Frisian wītsing (pirate, viking) and Old Saxon wīking (pirate), which are formed identically.

The North Sea Germanic form, existing in Old English since at least the eighth century, could also have been derived from or influenced by wīċ (camp), on account of the temporary encampments which were often a prominent feature of the Vikings’ raids.

Some other theories exist.


  • IPA(key): /ˈwiː.kinɡ/, [ˈwiː.kiŋɡ]



wīcing m

  1. pirate
    • late 9th century, translation of Orosius’ History Against the Pagans
      Philippe ġeþūhte æfter þām þæt hē on lande ne meahte þām folce mid ġiefum ġecwēman þe him on simle wǣron mid winnende, ac hē sċipu ġegaderode and wīċingas wurdon, and sōna æt ānum ċierre ān hund and hundeahtatiġ ċēapsċipa ġefēngon.
      After that, Philip concluded that on land, the gifts he awarded the common people who were always fighting on his side would never be enough to satisfy them, so he gathered ships and they became pirates, and very quickly captured 180 trading ships.
  2. Viking
    • unknown author, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, manuscript C, year 886
      Þȳ ilcan ġēare sende Ælfrēd cyning sċiphere of Cente on Ēastengle. Sōna swā hīe cōmon on Stūre mūðan, þā ġemētton hīe sixtīene sċipu wīċinga and wiþ þā ġefuhton and þā sċipu eall ġerāhton and þā menn ofslōgon. Þā hīe hāmweard wendon mid þǣre herehūðe, þā mētton hīe miċelne sċiphere wīċinga and þā wiþ þā ġefuhton þȳ ilcan dæġe, and þā Deniscan āhton siġe.
      That same year, King Alfred sent a naval fleet from Cent to East Anglia. As soon as they reached the mouth of the Stour, they met sixteen ships of Vikings, fought them, seized all the ships, and killed the men inside. When they turned back homeward with the spoils, they met a large naval fleet of Vikings and then fought them the same day, and the Danes won the battle.

Usage notes

  • Wīcingas was not a very common descriptor for Vikings or Scandinavians, even in descriptions of viking raids or armies. Instead, the Anglo-Saxons much more frequently called them Norþmenn (“north people”), hǣþene (“pagans”), and Dene (Danes).






  • English: Wiking, Wiching (learned)

See also