A new etymology for Hamlet? The names Admlithi, Amloði, and Amlethus

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The Hamlet-name may have been associated with players several centuries earlier than has hitherto been thought. It is well-known that Hamlet is related to Amlethus, found in Gesta Danorum, by Saxo Grammaticus. However, the etymologies of both Amlethus and the linked Icelandic name, Amlodi, have remained unclear. One possibility, explored in this article, is that these derive from the player-name, Admlithi, found in the Irish tale, Togail Bruidne Da Derga. Admlithi could have been transmitted to Saxo either as a player-name, or as a nautical noa-term (perhaps denoting a dangerous sea whirlpool, such as Coire Brecáin), or both; and it may have carried some small hint of its meaning with it on its journey into Gesta Danorum and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-694
Number of pages20
JournalReview of English Studies
Issue number257
Early online date3 Mar 2011
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • sea
  • Hamlet
  • Amlethus
  • Amloði
  • Saxo


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