Old English


Alternative forms

  • bǣddel



Uncertain. Seemingly cognate with Old High German pad (hermaphrodite). Usually taken to be related to (an unattested Old English root of) Middle English badde (wicked, wretched, bad).[1] Possibly related to Old English bædan (to defile) (although Fulk questions this,[1] and the very existence of the verb has been called into question[2][3]) and/or to Old English bædling (although the precise meaning of this word is uncertain and it has sometimes been suggested to derive from bedd instead).[4]





bæddel m

  1. an effeminate man
  2. hermaphrodite




  • Middle English: badde, bad
    • English: bad
    • Scots: bad


  1. 1.0 1.1 David Clark, Between Medieval Men (2009), page 63, footnotes, citing Robert D. Fulk, 'Male Homoeroticism in the Old English Canons of Theodore', page 26
  2. ^ Stanford University Publications: University series. Language and literature (1954), volumes 12-14, page 190: "*bædan. At Ps. 78, 1 in the Canterbury Psalter coinquinaverunt is glossed bæddon. From this gloss HD enters bædan, 'to defile', and HEW enters bǣdan, 'beflecken', relating it to English bad and OE bǣddel, 'hermaphrodite'. It is true that the lemma calls for a meaning 'to defile'; but since the glosses in this Psalter show a notoriously free hand in the attempt to interpret the Latin it is a rather risky source from which to postulate a word not documented elsewhere."
  3. ^ Richard Coates, in North-western European Language Evolution: NOWELE (1983), issues 11-12, page 100: "this bædan, in the grammatical form bæddon, glosses coinquinaueri (Psalm 78, 1). This word stands in all MSS. with the text of Psalterium Romanum, where those derived from Psalterium Gallicanum have polluerunt. It may be that the verb coinquinare which we know to mean 'to defile' was not familiar to the scribe and that he played safe by substituting the relatively colourless term bædan 'to afflict'. The verb bædan with its short vowel may therefore be a ghost."
  4. ^ Joseph Bosworth and T. Northcote Toller (1898) “bædling”, in An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.