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wergild

[wur-gild, wer-]
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noun
  1. (in Anglo-Saxon England and other Germanic countries)
  2. money paid to the relatives of a murder victim in compensation for loss and to prevent a blood feud.
  3. the amount of money fixed as compensation for the murder or disablement of a person, computed on the basis of rank.
Also wer·geld [wur-geld, wer-] /ˈwɜr gɛld, ˈwɛr-/, were·gild.

Origin of wergild

1175–1225; Middle English (Scots) weregylt, Old English wer(e)gild, equivalent to wer man (cognate with Gothic wair, Latin vir) + gild geld2; cognate with Middle Dutch weergelt, Old High German wergelt; see yield
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wergeld

Historical Examples

  • The value of a man's oath was commensurate with his value or wergeld.

    Our Legal Heritage, 5th Ed.

    S. A. Reilly

  • Violence to a widow or maiden is punishable by payment of one's wergeld.

  • If the slain man had a wergeld of 200s, let every one who was of the gang pay 30s.

  • The wergeld of a king or archbishop was six times that of a thegn: 7200s.

  • The wergeld of an earl or bishop was four times that of a thegn: 5800s.


British Dictionary definitions for wergeld

wergild

weregild wergeld (ˈwɜːˌɡɛld, ˈwɛə-)

noun
  1. the price set on a man's life in successive Anglo-Saxon and Germanic law codes, to be paid as compensation by his slayer

Word Origin

Old English wergeld, from wer man (related to Old Norse ver, Latin vir) + gield tribute (related to Gothic gild, Old High German gelt payment); see yield
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012