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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1851, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of futhark was in 1851


Dictionary Entries Near futhark

Cite this Entry

“Futhark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/futhark. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

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