Viking Sexual Euphemisms
The Vikings could be quite âdirect’ about certain matters. However, they could also be rather coy about sex – or at least, so their stories suggest. The sagas had various ways to refer to sex that describe it in a rather round about way. A man about to have sex with a woman was said to âturn towards’ her, “laying his hand/arm/thigh ” on her. The rest was up to the audience’s imagination. However, what was clear was the man was in charge. He took the lead. His partner followed.
Once the action warmed up, the sagas implied the increased activity in similarly guarded terms. A couple in the throes of passion would âcrowd together in bed” (hviluthrong) and ‘enjoy each other. ‘ If things were particularly raunchy, the tales would describe the man as enjoying a good old brolta a maga or âromp on her belly’ or describe the couple as âtraveling together.” Once they had exhausted themselves, the couple spent the aftermath at âhvila meth henna ” (rest with her), or he would âamuse one’s self.’ This activity referred to him enjoying a quiet conversation or game of cards with his partner.
However, the everyday terms used by the Vikings were probably not quite so reserved, judging by sexual words they have bequeathed to modern times. The Old Norse âthviet’ for a cut or slit began life as a sexual euphemism for a particular part of the female anatomy. Gradually it evolved into the old English âthwat’ and later into the more familiar tw*t which is used today as a term of abuse. The same occurred with another Old Norse word for the female genitals “Kunta’.
However, not all euphemisms were this crude. In contrast to these rather basic sexual terms, the Old Norse for sexual desire was “munuth.” This word derives from the root word for love “mun‘ and that of thought or memory âhugr,’ making the sexual impulse a âlove thought.’ So perhaps the Vikings could be romantic souls after all.