fu·​thark | \ ˈfü-ˌthärk How to pronounce futhark (audio) \
variants: or less commonly futhorc or futhork \ ˈfü-​ˌthȯrk How to pronounce futhark (audio) \

Definition of futhark

: the runic alphabet — see rune illustration

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The word futhark refers to a writing system used by Germanic peoples, and especially by the Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons, from about the third to the 13th centuries. Its origin is unclear, but a likely theory is that it was developed by the Goths from the Etruscan alphabet of northern Italy, with perhaps some aspects being influenced by the Latin alphabet of the first and second centuries. The word futhark itself comes from the sounds of the first six letters used in the earliest of the main runic script varieties: f, u, th, a, r, k. While eventually fully displaced by the Latin alphabet, futhark was still used occasionally for charms and memorial inscriptions in Scandinavia into the 16th and 17th centuries.

First Known Use of futhark

1851, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for futhark

from the first six letters, f, u, þ (th), o (or a), r, c (=k)

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The first known use of futhark was in 1851

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Cite this Entry

“Futhark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/futhark. Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on futhark

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about futhark


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