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Etymology question - Old Norse
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[eyja]
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Subject:Etymology question
Time:10:47 pm
I'm interested in the etymology of valkyrja. According to the Cleasby online dictionary (specifically on png. 675), it is made up of two elements val-kyrja. This is supported in Gordon. The val-, I'm assuming, is related to valr "the slain" (please correct me if I'm wrong), but what of -kyrja? I have thus far not found it in Cleasby or Gordon. Can anyone help me?
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someothersecret
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Time:2008-03-07 05:21 am (UTC)
(Several months too late, probably, but I'm procrastinating from a dissertation)

From Zoëga's A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic:

kjósa (kýs; kaus, køri and keyri; kusum and kurum; kosinn, kørinn), v. (1) to choose, select (valkyrjur ríða jafnan at k. val); (2) to desire, wish (þá kýs ek laust kaup várt); k. heldr, to choose rather, prefer; (3) to elect (k. biskup); (4) with preps., k. e-n af fleirum, to select, choose from a number; k. af, to choose (kuru þeir þá af at ganga til handa konungi); margir kjósa ekki orð á sik, many are not so well spoken of as they may wish to be; k. e-n til e-s, to select one for a thing (k. e-n til fylgdar við sik, til biskups); k. um e-t, to choose between (kjós þúnú um tvá kosti).


Valr does mean "the slain", but it also refers to their corpses, it appears, alluding to the less savoury side to their character. So in other words related to it:
val-köstr, m. a heap of slain
-rauðr, a. blood-red, crimson
-rauf, n. plundering the slain;
-rof, n. plundering the slain;
-sinni, n. the company of the slain.

The Volsung Saga refers to an Óskmœr, a "wish-maidens" of Odin. She may or may not be a valkyrie. The term may come from Óskamær, chosen or adopted maiden, ie. stepdaughter. So there's another layer of choosing going on there.
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Etymology question - Old Norse
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