January 10th, 2019


We interrupt your internet reverie for this quick PSA

In Germanic folklore, Wade is a sea-giant. Very little is now remembered about him; in Chaucer's time, people still remembered "the Tale of Wade," since Chaucer referred to it in The Canterbury Tales. "Wade's Boat" was still proverbial for much longer, though for quite what is not remembered now. Wade was the father of Wayland the Smith, about whom somewhat more is remembered, and Wayland was the father of the much less-well-remembered Widia, of whose story more has survived but about which nobody much cares.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Wade the sea-giant. He was a guardian of fords, a ferryman, a coastal dweller. He is reputed to have *ahem* waded the straits between Denmark and Sweden or someplace, with his son held over his head. The question I asked myself this morning was, Does Wade get his name from his wading, or does the verb wade come from the legendary activity of the giant? (To be all high-falutin' and onomastic about it, is Wade an aptronym or is wade an eponym?)

I did a quick internet search, and I find that OE wadan means "to wade, or to force oneself through resisting forces." It is related to wæd, which means "ford." So apparently, the giant is named for his most famous activity, and not the other way around.

I'm glad we got that cleared up.