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Eitr is a mythical substance in Norse mythology. This liquid substance is the origin of all living things, the first giant Ymir was conceived from eitr. The substance is supposed to be very poisonous and is also produced by Jörmungandr (the Midgard serpent) and other serpents.


The word eitr exists in most North Germanic languages (all derived from the Old Norse language) in Icelandic/Faroese eitur, in Danish edder, in Swedish etter. Cognates also exist in Dutch etter (pus), in German Eiter (pus),in Old Saxon ĕttar, in Old English ăttor. The meaning of the word is very broad: poisonous, evil, bad, angry, sinister etc.[1]

The word is used in common Scandinavian folklore as a synonym for snake poison.


In Vafþrúðnismál Odin asks the Giant Vafþrúðnir about the origin of Ymir. Vafþrúðnir answers:

Ór Élivagom
stukko eitrdropar,
svá óx, unz varð ór iötunn;
þar órar ættir
kómu allar saman,
því er þat æ allt til atalt.

Rough translation:

From Éliwaves
Eitrdrops splashed
that grew into a giant
who begat all families
from which all [giants] come
that is why we are easily angered

The last line of the stanza in Vafþrúðnismál where Vafþrúðnir says "that is why we are easily angered", is a word-play with the meaning of the word eitr, as it also means anger/angry (similar to "poison a relationship").[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Svenska Akademiens Ordbok, entry for Etter [1]

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Eitr. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.