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From Middle English wald, wold, from Old English (Anglian) wald (compare weald), from Proto-Germanic *walþuz, from Proto-Indo-European *wel(ə)-t- (compare Welsh gwallt ‘hair’, Lithuanian váltis ‘oat awn’, Serbo-Croatian vlât ‘ear (of wheat)’, Ancient Greek λάσιος ‎(lásios) ‘hairy’). See also the related term weald.


wold ‎(plural wolds)

  1. An unforested or deforested plain, a grassland, a moor.
  2. (obsolete) A wood or forest, especially a wooded upland
    • Byron
      And from his further bank Aetolia's wolds espied.
    • Tennyson
      The wind that beats the mountain, blows / More softly round the open wold.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Used in many English place-names, always hilly tracts of land.
  • Wald (German) is a cognate, but a false friend because it retains the original meaning of forest.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


  • OED 2nd edition 1989

Middle English[edit]



  1. would


p. 1, Arthur; A Short Sketch of his Life and History in English Verse of the First Half of the Fifteenth Century, Frederick Furnivall ed. EETS. Trübner & Co.: London. 1864.

Middle Low German[edit]


Etymology 1[edit]

From Old Saxon wald, from Proto-Germanic *walþuz, whence also Old English weald, Old Norse vǫllr. The A became O through the influence of the velarised L in the same manner as in Dutch woud.

Alternative forms[edit]

  • wolt (more common form marking pronunciation rather than morphology)


wōld m ‎(woldes)

  1. a wood, a forest

Etymology 2[edit]

EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions.

Alternative forms[edit]


wōld f

  1. power; ability to do as one pleases
  2. force
  3. violence