Elder Futhark Rune Meanings

Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabets. It was a writing system used by Germanic tribes for Northwest Germanic dialects in the Migration Period. Runic inscriptions are found on artifacts, including jewelry, amulets, plateware, tools, weapons, and, famously, runestones, from the 2nd to the 8th centuries.

Elder Futhark was a secret language known only to the literate elite, and there are only some 350 surviving inscriptions.

In Scandinavia, beginning from the late 8th century, the script was simplified to the Younger Futhark. 

Usage of the Younger Futhark is found in Scandinavia and Viking Age settlements abroad, probably in use from the 9th century onward. 

Below is a table of Elder Futhark Alphabets, with links to their meanings.

Elder Furthark Rune Meanings

Rune UCS Transliteration IPA Proto-Germanic name Meaning
f f /f/ *fehu "cattle; wealth"
u u /u(ː)/ ?*ūruz "aurochs" (or *ûram "water/slag"?)
th,þ þ /θ/, /ð/ ?*þurisaz "giant" (or *þunraz "the god Thunraz")
a a /a(ː)/ *ansuz "god" ("the god Wodinaz"[citation needed])
r r /r/ *raidō "ride, journey"
k k (c) /k/ ?*kaunan "ulcer"? (or *kenaz "torch"?)
g g /ɡ/ *gebō "gift"
w w /w/ *wunjō "joy"
h h ᚺ ᚻ h /h/ *hagalaz "hail" (the precipitation)
n n /n/ *naudiz "need"
i i /i(ː)/ *īsaz "ice"
j j /j/ *jēra- "year, good year, harvest"
ï,ei ï (æ) /æː/[11] *ī(h)waz "yew-tree"
p p /p/ ?*perþ- meaning unclear, perhaps "pear-tree".
z z /z/ ?*algiz "elk" (or "protection, defence"[12])
s s ᛊ ᛋ s /s/ *sōwilō "Sun"
t t /t/ *tīwaz "the god Tiwaz"
b b /b/ *berkanan "birch"
e e /e(ː)/ *ehwaz "horse"
m m /m/ *mannaz "man"
l l /l/ *laguz "water, lake" (or possibly *laukaz "leek")
ŋ ŋ ŋ ᛜ ᛝ ŋ /ŋ/ *ingwaz "the god Ingwaz"
o o /o(ː)/ *ōþila-/*ōþala- "heritage, estate, possession"
d d /d/ *dagaz "day"