An example of Viking runes carved on a runestone in Sweden.
- An example of a rune is a zig zagged line that means sun.
- An example of a rune is a stone used to divine answers.
The definition of a rune is any of the characters in the ancient Germanic alphabet or a stone with those characters on them.
- any of the characters of an alphabet (futhark) probably derived from a Greek script and used by the Scandinavians and other early Germanic peoples from about 300
- [often pl.] something inscribed or written in such characters
- a Finnish or Old Norse poem or canto
- Old Poet. any poem, verse, or song, esp. one that is mystical or obscure
Origin of runeMiddle English roun from Old English run, secret, mystery, runic character; readopted in the 17th circa in form of Old Norse r?n: both from Indo-European echoic base an unverified form reu-, hoarse sound, roar, grumble from source Welsh rhin, secret, Classical Latin raucus, hoarse; in runesense from Finnish runo, poem, canto from Old Norse r?n
- a. Any of the characters in several alphabets used by ancient Germanic peoples from the 3rd to the 13th century.b. A similar character in another alphabet, sometimes believed to have magic powers.
- A poem or incantation of mysterious significance, especially a magic charm.
Origin of runeOld Norse or Old English rūn Word History: Among early peoples writing was a serious thing, full of magical power. In its only reference to writing, the Iliad calls it “baneful signs.” The Germanic peoples used a runic alphabet as their form of writing, using it to identify combs or helmets, make calendars, encode secret messages, and mark funeral monuments. Runes were also employed in casting spells, as to gain a kiss from a sweetheart or to make an enemy's gut burst. In casting a spell the writing of the runes was accompanied by a mumbled or chanted prayer or curse, also called a rune, to make the magic work. These two meanings also appear in Old English rūn, the ancestor of our word. The direct descendants of Old English rūn are the archaic verb round, “whisper, talk in secret,” and the obsolete noun roun, “whispering, secret talk.” The use of the word to refer to inscribed runic characters was revived by Danish writers who adopted it from Old Norse toward the end of the 1600s and used it in discussions of Germanic antiquities.
detail of inscribed runes
on a stone
near Källby, Sweden
A Finnish poem or section of a poem.
Origin of runeFinnish runo of Germanic origin
- A letter, or character, belonging to the written language of various ancient Germanic peoples, especially the Scandinavians and the Anglo-Saxons.
- A Finnish poem, or a division of one, especially a division of the Kalevala.
- Any verse or song, especially one with mystical or mysterious overtones; an incantation.