Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for October 4, 2019 is:

futhark • FOO-thahrk  • noun

: the runic alphabet : any of several alphabets used by the Germanic peoples from about the 3rd to the 13th centuries


“The oldest inscriptions in the futhark were found in Denmark and northern Germany, dating from the first century AD; at that time the inventory consisted of twenty-four signs. Later, by the eighth century, the range used in Denmark was reduced to sixteen….” — George L. Campbell & Christopher Moseley, The Routledge Handbook of Scripts and Alphabets, 2012

“Conveniently, one of the Americans … is an anthropology student studying Scandinavian rituals. His in-depth questions provide context for viewers not steeped in Nordic lore, but it’s still not always clear what he’s talking about. For instance, looking over a rune carving …, he guesses ‘Younger Futhark?’ only to be told no, ‘Elder.'” — Danielle Burgos, Bustle, 3 July 2019

Did you know?

The word futhark refers to a writing system used by Germanic peoples, and especially by the Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons, from about the third to the 13th centuries. Its origin is unclear, but a likely theory is that it was developed by the Goths from the Etruscan alphabet of northern Italy, with perhaps some aspects being influenced by the Latin alphabet of the first and second centuries. The word futhark itself comes from the sounds of the first six letters used in the earliest of the main runic script varieties: f, u, th, a, r, k. While eventually fully displaced by the Latin alphabet, futhark was still used occasionally for charms and memorial inscriptions in Scandinavia into the 16th and 17th centuries.

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