Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Old English with Mandy and Paul of ClickityLit

Detail from the first page of the Beowulf manuscript. (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

What Does Þæt Mean?!

Ure æghwylc sceal ende gebidanworolde lifes; wyrce se þe motedomes ær deaþe; þæt bið drihtgumanunlifgendum æfter selest. (Beowulf)

Old English can seem intimidatingly foreign to the novice, and frustratingly opaque even to the devoted student. But never fear! Using state-of-the-art corpus linguistics tools and avant-garde state-of-mind technologies, the philological experts at ClickityLit have developed an astounding new tool for determining what any given Old English word means. That’s right: this cutting-edge formula delivered EXCLUSIVELY to readers of Vulpes Libris will tell you the meaning of whatever Old English word you happen to be wondering about−without looking up in a dictionary! Simply answer the questions below as honestly as you can, tally your results, and find your word on the handy chart. It may take more time than dictionary-searching, but the results are far more innovative and dynamic. You won’t believe the synergy!

NOTE: since this (patent-pending) technology is in beta, Old English translations are currently only available as compound nouns. We trust to your own robust linguistic faculties to adjust the word-form to a verb, adjective, or adverb, as needed. Prepositions, pronouns, and demonstratives not included.

Let’s begin!

QUESTIONS (choose one answer per question):

1. Which character in Beowulf do you find most admirable?
(a) Beowulf
(b) Beowulf
(c) Beowulf
(d) Beowulf
(e) Beowulf
(f) Beowulf

2. You are the protagonist in an Anglo-Saxon elegaic poem. How do you feel?
(a) sad
(b) sad-hearted
(c) sad-minded
(d) wretched
(e) wretched of heart
(f) wretched before dawn

3. You are a saint in a devotional Old English narrative. Needless to say, you have been violently deprived of your head. Where is it?
(a) on a wolf
(b) in a church, obvs.
(c) strung up in a tree
(d) hanging around the neck of an abbot
(e) drawing pilgrims alongside the dessicated foreskin of Jesus Christ
(f) I think Ramsay Bolton ate it.

4. Where are the horse and the rider?
(a) In exile
(b) They have passed, like all that is noble and beautiful in the world
(c) With the treasure-giver and the grief-bearer on the dragon-shore
(d) In the grey havens
(e) They were last seen with Eowyn, heading towards the Sea.
(f) Gah, Tolkien. What a thief.

5. Who do you love most in the world?
(a) my lord
(b) my retainer
(c) THE lord
(d) my companions, whom I have lost
(e) my husband, from whom I have been woefully and eternally parted
(f) my people, who have betrayed and exiled me

6. What do you think of the Welsh?
(a) barbarians!!
(b) seeeexxxy barbarians
(c) make good slaves
(d) they’re no Picts, amirite?!
(e) foreigners!! send them to the hills!
(f) who?

7. Which do you prefer?
(a) wine
(b) mead
(c) beer
(d) wine
(e) mead
(f) beer

8. What would you rather own?
(a) a jeweled goblet
(b) a helmet decorated with a boar
(c) a shield decorated with a boar
(d) rings, rings, rings
(e) a silver spear
(f) a shiny breastplate

9. Pick a tribe
(a) Danes
(b) Geats
(c) Frisians
(d) Angles
(e) Saxons
(f) Jutes

10. My life was cut short −horribly, violently. I was stripped, scraped, beaten, twisted, contorted, mutilated. Now I am beautiful and studded with treasure, happy because I am bringing so much goodness and pleasure.
(a) paper
(b) bible
(c) horn
(d) dildo
(e) leather dildo
(f) WHAT.


If you got…. then you can find your word-meaning at…
Mostly (a)s: A-1
Mostly (b)s: B-9
Mostly (c)s: C-3
Mostly (d)s: D-7
Mostly (e)s: E-2
Mostly (f)s: F-8
Mostly (a)s and (b)s: G-6
Mostly (c)s and (d)s: H-5
Mostly (e)s and (f)s: I-4
None of the above: E-8



You’re welcome.

Mandy and Paul are freelance llama farmers who enjoy consuming faux chocolate éclairs made of angel tears and tofu. For more of their devastating wit and erudition, visit them at

2 comments on “Old English with Mandy and Paul of ClickityLit

  1. Kate
    October 3, 2017


  2. mandypaulwall
    October 3, 2017

    Ha! Yes, a most excellent point.

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