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Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
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Post by Margaret » Sun September 14th, 2008, 5:31 am

I just checked the etymology in my compact OED, and "nithing" is an old Anglo-Saxon word that has a completely different origin from "nothing," which is a contraction of "no" plus "thing."
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Post by Volgadon » Sun September 14th, 2008, 2:19 pm

[quote=""annis""]And in the odd-spot category- just in case you thought that the practice of setting up a spite-stake, or nithing-post died out with the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, here's a post from a relatively contemporary pagan tp prove you wrong!
http://www.traditionalwitchcraft.net/mo ... ic&p=16273[/quote]

I would say it had died out, but was ressurected.

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Post by annis » Sun September 14th, 2008, 8:32 pm

It's easy to see how the confusion between the words "nothing" and "nithing" can arise, but "nithing" doesn't mean that someone is worth nothing, but that they have the heinous qualities of "nith" i.e. extreme wickedness, maliciousness, sneakiness or cowardice and stinginess. It was one of the worst possible insults, and a person named a "nithing" might find that the shame made it impossible for him to remain part of his community. As an insult it was a sure-fire starter if you wanted to provoke a duel, and amongst the Vikings, when the insult was augmented by a nithing-post the insulted person could seek redress against the one who insulted him by legal process.
We tend to think of the Vikings as solving all problems by the sword, but in fact they were a litigious lot, who loved nothing better than having a legal debate to mull over.

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