Coal biter

kol-bitr in Elder Futhark and Younger Futhork

I learnt an interesting word in Old Norse recently: kol-bitr (“coal-biter”), which refers to an idle person who always sits by the fire. kol = coals, charcoal, and bitr = biting, snapping; cutting, sharp [source].

In Elder Futhark runes this is ᚲᛟᛚ᛫ᛒᛁᛏᚱ and in Younger Futhork runes it’s ᚴᚫᛚ᛫ᛓᛁᛐᚱ.

A visitor to Omnglot asked me about this expression and how to write it in Runes. I thought I’d post it here to show the kinds of questions that stream in to Omniglot HQ. I never know what I’ll be asked, and do my best to answer whatever questions come my way, and I’ve become pretty good at finding information, no matter how obscure.

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This entry was posted in English, Language, Old Norse, Words and phrases.

One Response to Coal biter

  1. J. Mitchell says:

    I’ve heard the expression ‘coal biter’ before when I lived in the UK and worked on construction sites around London. The context in which it was used however was to describe someone who was, let’s say ‘rough and ready’ rather than someone who is lazy. It seems using the expression to describe a lazy person would be a more correct use of the term. Interesting to learn the origin of the expression.

    Joe.