Old Norse Terms for Gods

Written by Dyami Millarson

The Old Norse terms for Gods (in the plural) are:

  • Æsir
  • Tívar, Valtívar, Sigtívar
  • Bönd
  • Höpt
  • Rögn, Ręgin, Ginnręgin, Uppręgin
  • Goð, Guð

Vanir, which I did not include above, are another type of Gods.

Álfar (Landálfar) and Vættir (Landvættir, Sævættir, Vatnavættir, Loptvættir, Himinvættir, Skógarvættir, Lundvættir, Trévættir, Viðarvættir, Fjallvættir, Forsvættir, Kęlduvættir, Húsvættir) may also be considered terms for Gods. They may in fact be used as general terms for describing divine/spiritual entities. Dvergar may carry names with the element -álfr.

Terms for Goddesses are Ásynjur and Dísir. Freyja is also called Vanadís and Valkyrjur bear names with the element -dís as well.

Męgin or Ásmęgin is not a term for the Gods but it is an attribute of the Gods; for it refers to Divine Strength, particularly that of Thor.

Díar are likely not to be the Gods, but the Gods’ priests, hence synonymous with Goðar. Cleasby and Vigfusson put it thus: “[T]his word occurs only twice, Yngl[inga] S[aga] ch[apter] 2 […] where [D]íar means not the [G]ods [T]hemselves but the priests; and by the old poet Kormak in an obscure periphrasis, in a poem addressed to the staunch [H]eathen earl Sigurd; Snorri (Edda 96), in quoting Kormak, takes the word to mean [G]ods; but the version given in Yngl. S. seems more likely; the díar of the Yngl[inga] S[aga] were probably analogous to the Icel[andic] [G]oði, from [G]oð (deus). The age of Kormak shews that the word was probably not borrowed from the Latin.” The singular of Díar, which we may suppose is *Dír, is not exant.