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Icelandic Online Dictionary and Readings

Sverrir Hólmarsson; Sanders, Christopher; Tucker, John / Íslensk-ensk orðabók (1989)



The lemma contains the headword, information on word class, and morphological details.

  [p. 22]  

1. The Headword

1.1 Order of entries

All headwords are printed in bold and presented in the alphabetical order that is now standard for Modern Icelandic:

a, á, b, d, ð, e, é, f, g, h, i, í, j, k, l, m,
n, o, ó, p, r, s, t, u, ú, v, x, y, ý, þ, æ, ö

This means, for example, that all words beginning with i- are listed before words beginning with í-.


Consequently, when two headwords are distinguished only by the presence or absence of an accent over a vowel, the form without the accent is placed first.

hlið f

hlíð f


When headwords with the same spelling (homonyms) introduce successive entries, they are distinguished by means of superscript numbers.

á·líka adj indecl

á·líka adv

1.2 Presentation of headwords

A headword is often divided into parts: by means of a dot or by means of a slash /.


A dot marks a division of a compound word into constituent parts. Only one such division is noted.



A slash in a headword marks the point at which any inflectional endings given later in the lemma should be added.

borð/a v (acc) (-aði)

indicates that the preterite of borða is borðaði;   [p. 23]  

stelp/a f (-u, -ur)

indicates that the genitive singular of stelpa is stelpu and that the nominative plural is stelpur.


In the case of a compound word whose second segment displays the effects of mutation, this segment is separated from the first by the slash rather than by the dot (see the discussion of inflected forms in section 3 below).

hólm/ganga f (-göngu, -göngur)

1.3 Lemmas that consist of cross-references


A headword can take the form of a reference from an inflected form with a different spelling.

hættir > háttur


A headword can be a reference from a second word with an exactly similar meaning.

einskis·virði adj indecl

= einskisverður

1.4 First elements of compound words

A headword can consist purely of the first element of a compound word followed by suggestions as to how the element is to be understood in compound words that are not included in the dictionary.

meðal- in compounds


2. Word class / Parts of speech

The following main distinctions are commonly made: adj = adjective, adv = adverb, conj = conjunction, interj = interjection, num = numeral, prep = preposition, pron = pronoun, v = verb. Dual function is sometimes indicated as follows:

ótal adj /adv

2.1 Nouns

Nouns are not identified as such. Instead, their gender is given (m for masculine, f for feminine, n for neuter), and where relevant they are given additional   [p. 24]   markers to show that they are registered only in the plural form or are indeclinable.

land n

sifjar f pl

var·kárni f indecl

2.2 Verbs

Verbs are identified by the marker v. Note also v refl for a verb used in the reflexive form, and v impers for a verb that is always used in impersonal constructions.

éta v (acc)

fast/a v

á·girn/ast v refl

lang/a v impers


Case markers. In the preceding example the first instance, éta, has the additional information (acc) after the verb marker. This indicates that the verb in question can be used transitively and that in transitive use the object of the verb is in the accusative case (as opposed to the dative (dat) or genitive (gen)). The absence of a case marker indicates that the verb in question is registered only in an intransitive sense or senses. Case markers are never given for reflexive verb forms, but case usage is usually indicated by an example.

á·girn/ast v refl (-tist, -st)

desire, crave
~~ e-ð
crave sth


Some verbs are frequently used with double objects, one in the accusative (the direct object), the other in the dative (the indirect object). A typical example of this is bjóða e-m e-ð ‘offer sby sth' where in Icelandic the sby (e-m) is in the dative and the sth (e-ð) in the accusative. Verbs of this type are marked (dat+acc).

2.3 Adjectives

Where adjectives are indeclinable this is shown by the marker adj indecl, and when an adjective in origin is the past participle of a verb its source is often identified.

búinn adj

< búa


Where an adjective governs the dative case in its noun phrase, it is shown as follows:

líkur adj (dat)

similar, resembling, like
vera ~ e-m
be like sby

  [p. 25]  

3. Inflected forms

Inflectional endings or inflected forms of nouns, pronouns, verbs and adjectives are given in bold type in round brackets immediately after the indication of word class. In cases where there is mutation the portion of the word that includes the vowel (or the whole of the word) is presented in its entirety in the round brackets.

höll f (hallar, hallir)

fé/lag n (-lags, -lög)

Some words occur with alternative endings for a given case; these are separated by or. Thus in the following example the genitive singular of liður appears both as liðs and liðar.

lið/ur m (-s or -ar, -ir)

3.1 Nouns


For nouns, the endings usually given are the genitive singular and the nominative plural. If only one ending is given it is always the genitive singular, and the absence of the plural form indicates that plural usage is unknown or extremely rare.

and·úð f (-ar)



Where the dative singular of a noun has a vowel change, this form is entered as a headword with a cross-reference.

ketti > köttur

3.2 Verbs


For verbs that belong to the strong declension, the third person singular present (followed by a semicolon) is only given if the vowel differs from the vowel of the infinitive (the headword); otherwise only the third person singular preterite, the third person preterite plural, and the past participle are given, separated by commas.

bjóða v (dat+acc) (býður ; bauð, buðu, boðið)

bera v (acc) (bar, báru, borið)

  [p. 26]  


For most classes of weak verbs only the third person singular preterite and the past participle are given. For the largest and most regular class of weak verbs (Class 1, those marked like borg/a v (-aði)) the past participle is, however, not given, since it is formed completely regularly by the addition of a final to the infinitive (thus borgað, kallað, etc.).


Where the preterite subjunctive of a verb has a vowel change, the form is entered as a headword with a cross-reference.

byði subj

> bjóða

3.3 Adjectives

For adjectives, mutated forms (feminine singular) are given (this form is the same as the neuter plural). Further details on the inflection of adjectives is to be found in the Grammar, p. 38–40.

ban·eitr/aður adj (f -uð)

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