danegeld

noun

dane·​geld ˈdān-ˌgeld How to pronounce danegeld (audio)
often capitalized
: 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

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."

Word History

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of danegeld was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Danegeld.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/danegeld. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

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