Definition of danegeld
: an annual tax believed to have been imposed originally to buy off Danish invaders in England or to maintain forces to oppose them but continued as a land tax
danegeld was our Word of the Day on 09/13/2008. Hear the podcast!
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Did You Know?
The subjects of King Ethelred II, who ruled England from 978-1016, didn't think much of the ruler the dubbed "the Unready." They suspected him of murdering his brother to gain the throne, so it isn't surprising that they didn't rally around him to defend the country against the Danish invaders who attempted to unseat him. Ethelred tried a payoff tax called the Danegeld as a last ditch effort to keep his kingdom intact. The Dane part of the name refers to the Danish invaders who received the money. The geld part comes from an Old English word meaning "payment" or "tribute."
First Known Use of danegeld
before 12th century
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