Icelandic Studies - Icelandic Word Of The Issue: Að Kynda

Word Of The Issue: Að Kynda

Word Of The Issue: Að Kynda

Published March 5, 2018

Alice Demurtas
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Have you ever heard Icelanders’ favourite story about the word ‘kynda’? Tour guides in particular love to explain how it roughly translates to ‘heat up’ and that it derives from the word ‘kind’ which means ‘sheep.’ In fact, they say, packing a room with sheep in the old days in order to heat it up was fairly common.

But guess what: according to the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic studies, the two words bear no connection whatsoever. Instead, ‘að kynda’ only relates to old Nordic words indicating heat and fire. Even the words ‘kindle’ and ‘candle’ derive from it!

It’s still unclear whether Icelanders are simply taking the piss or whether they don’t know they’re lying, but next time you hear this story at least you’ll know what to answer.

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