Anglo-Saxon Word of the Week! : twēogan

August Reidel's Judith
I had intended for this to be a Monday thing, but I’m honestly never prepared to  do anything but  brace for impact when Monday rolls around, so from here on out,  ASWotW will be a Wednesday  feature!

This week’s word is a verb:  twēogan.

Twēogan is a slightly irregular (meaning it doesn’t conjugate quite the same as  other verbs of its type) verb that means ‘to doubt’.

It’s pronounced tway-o-gahn, with the accent on the first syllable. The line over  the e indicates syllable length – the e in this word is a long vowel.

It conjugates like this*:

ic twēoge – I doubt
þū twēost – thou doubt
hē/hēo twēoþ – he doubts
wē twēogaþ – we doubt
gē twēogaþ – ye doubt (you plural. Y’all, if you’re from my neck of the woods.)
hīe twēogaþ – they doubt

ic twēode
þū twēodes; twēodest
hē/hēo twēode
wē twēodon
gē twēodon
hīe twēodon

*For the moment, I’ve decided to stick to just present and past tense conjugation in indicative mood only.

I chose twēogan as the ASWotW because it appears in the opening lines of Judith:

gifena in ðys ginnan grunde.         Heo ðar ða gearwe funde
mundbyrd æt ðam mæran þeodne,         þa heo ahte mæste þearfe,
hyldo þæs hehstan deman,         þæt he hie wið þæs hehstan brogan…

It is, in fact, the first recorded word we have in the poem, because the beginning is missing. From the context of the rest opening lines, it’s easy to surmise that the poet is saying Judith doubted not the gifts she had received from God, but the poem’s very first sentence begins, literally, in doubt.

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