The Norse and Germanic peoples were well known for their storytelling and poetry, unfortunately they rarely wrote them down. The runes of the FUTHARK were not widely used by the masses. These sacred symbols were for the elites and considered magical. Not until the younger FUTHARK was implemented did it become more usable with the Nordic languages.

Elder Futhark Runes

f f u u th,þ þ a a r r k k g g w w
h h n n i i j j ï,ei ï p p z z s s
t t b b e e m m l l ŋ ŋ d d o o


Rune Names and Definitions

Rune UCS Transliteration IPA Proto-Germanic name Meaning
f f /f/ *fehu “wealth, cattle”
u u /u(ː)/ ?*ūruz aurochs” (or *ûram “water/slag”?)
th,þ þ /θ/, /ð/ ?*þurisaz “the god Thor, giant
a a /a(ː)/ *ansuz “one of the Æsir (gods)”
r r /r/ *raidō “ride, journey”
k k (c) /k/ ?*kaunan “ulcer”? (or *kenaz “torch”?)
g g /ɡ/ *gebō “gift”
w w /w/ *wunjō “joy”
h h ᚺ ᚻ h /h/ *hagalaz “hail” (the precipitation)
n n /n/ *naudiz “need”
i i /i(ː)/ *īsaz “ice”
j j /j/ *jēra- “year, good year, harvest”
ï,ei ï (æ) /æː/(?) *ī(h)waz/*ei(h)waz “yew-tree”
p p /p/ ?*perþ- meaning unclear, perhaps “pear-tree”.
z z /z/ ?*algiz unclear, possibly “elk“.
s s ᛊ ᛋ s /s/ *sōwilō “Sun”
t t /t/ *tīwaz/*teiwaz “the god Tiwaz
b b /b/ *berkanan birch
e e /e(ː)/ *ehwaz “horse”
m m /m/ *mannaz “Man”
l l /l/ *laguz “water, lake” (or possibly *laukaz “leek”)
ŋ ŋ ŋ ᛜ ᛝ ŋ /ŋ/ *ingwaz “the god Ingwaz
o o /o(ː)/ *ōþila-/*ōþala- “heritage, estate, possession”
d d /d/ *dagaz “day”

Reference Source:


Professor Jackson Crawford has a wonderful YouTube series on the old Norse language and mythology. Here are a few videos he has done on the subject of runes.

Where do the runes come from?


Name of the Runes (Elder Futhark)


Writing Old Norse in Runes