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[wur-gild, wer-] /ˈwɜr gɪld, ˈwɛr-/
(in Anglo-Saxon England and other Germanic countries)
money paid to the relatives of a murder victim in compensation for loss and to prevent a blood feud.
the amount of money fixed as compensation for the murder or disablement of a person, computed on the basis of rank.
Also, wergeld
[wur-geld, wer-] /ˈwɜr gɛld, ˈwɛr-/ (Show IPA),
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wergeld
Historical Examples
  • The value of a man's oath was commensurate with his value or wergeld.

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

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

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

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

  • Between different clans the blood feud is the accepted method of enforcing custom, unless a substitute, the wergeld, is provided.


    John Dewey and James Hayden Tufts
  • Swearing a false oath or perjury was also punishable by loss of one's hand or half one's wergeld.

  • If the fee or wergeld of the burggrave has been adjudged to him in court, it must be paid to him within six weeks.

  • The sums awarded as wergeld were large, and were reckoned according to the slain mans rank.

British Dictionary definitions for wergeld


/ˈwɜːˌɡɪld; ˈwɛə-/
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
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