21 Great Old Norse Sayings

Dating back to more than a thousand years, these wisdom sayings of the Vikings are attributed to their poetic and reflective views. Here is a look at some of the best Old Norse sayings documented.

Altfor reint har ingen smak. – Too clean has no taste.

Árinni kennir illur ræðari. – A bad rower blames the oar.

Bara döda fiskar följer strömmen. – Only dead fish follow the stream.

Båtlaus mann er bunden til land. – Boatless man is tied to the land.

Ber er hver að baki nema sér bróður eigi. – Bare is the back of a brotherless man.

Berre bok gjer ingen klok. – Merely book makes none wise.

Bra vind i ryggen er best. – A fair wind at our back is best.

Brennt barn forðast eldinn. – A burnt child keeps away from fire.

Den hund som bieffer meget, han bider ikkun lidet. – Barking dogs seldom bite.

Det är som mörkast innan gryningen. – It is darkest before dawn.

Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder. – There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.

Det som göms i snö, kommer fram vid tö. – What is hidden in snow, is revealed at thaw.

Du skal kravle, før du kan gå. – You have to learn to crawl before you can walk.

Enn skal lytte, når en gammel hund gjø. – One should listen when an old dog barks.

Gammel kjærleik rustar ikkje. – Old love does not corrode.

Ju senare på kvällen, desto vackrare folk. – The later in the evening, the more beautiful the people.

Kemst þó hægt fari. – You will reach your destination even though you travel slowly.

Lidet er om den mans vrede, som ingen vurder. – If you cannot bite, never show your teeth.

Man må hyle med de ulve man er i blandt. – One must howl with the wolves one is among.

Sjaldan er ein báran stök. – There seldom is a single wave.

Tíðin rennur sum streymur í á. – Time runs like the river current.

Here is a great video with some conversational phrases spoken in Old Norse as shared by a historical linguist and experienced teach of Old Norse and Modern Icelandic.