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Bautasteinn - fallos?: Kring en tolkning av ett fornvästnordiskt ord
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
2008 (Swedish)In: Scripta Islandica: Isländska Sällskapets Årsbok, ISSN 0582-3234, no 59, 121-134 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Bautasteinn – a phallic symbol? On an interpretation of an Old Norse word 


A widespread interpretation of the word bautasteinn is ‘phallic symbol’. However, the interpretation rests on a weak foundation and should, therefore, be rejected. The starting point for the phallic interpretation is that the prefix form bautaðar- (genitive of bautuðr) is the original form of the prefix in bauta(ðar)steinn. The word bautuðr only appears in the Snorre Edda as heiti for ‘horse’, ‘ox’, and these meanings are central for the phallic interpretation of the word bautasteinn.

     In the article I show that there is nothing in the Old Norse manuscripts that supports that bautaðar- is the original prefix form in bauta(ðar)steinn. Instead, the manuscripts show that the form bauta- is the oldest and the most certain form of the prefix.

      One of the most important sources for the word bautasteinn, and for the original form of the prefix, is Egils saga Skallagrímssonar and its main manuscript, Möðruvallabók from 1330–1370. In the article I show how the source value of some manuscripts of Egils saga previously have been misjudged, and I describe why the reading of the form bauta- in Möðruvallabók is the most certain. As a result of this, the phallic interpretation of the word bautasteinn can be rejected.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Swedish Science Press , 2008. no 59, 121-134 p.
Keyword [en]
Old Icelandic, Old Norse, phallic symbol, bauta, bautasteinn, language history, etymology, philology
Keyword [sv]
fornisländska, fallos, bautasten, bautasteinn, bauta, språkhistoria, etymologi, filologi
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Scandinavian Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-18965OAI: diva2:201074
Available from: 2009-03-02 Created: 2009-03-02 Last updated: 2013-09-18Bibliographically approved

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Haugen, Susanne
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