Ansuz (rune)

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"god" "god"; "oak"; "ash" "god"
Shape Elder Futhark Futhorc Younger Futhark
Runic letter ansuz.svg Runic letter os.svg Runic letter ac.svg Runic letter ansuz.svg Long-branch Oss.svg Short-twig Oss.svg
ᚩ ᚪ ᚫ
Transliteration a o; a; æ o
Transcription a o; a; æ ą, o
IPA [a(ː)] [o(ː)]; [ɑ(ː)]; [æ(ː)] [ɑ̃], [o(ː)]
Position in rune-row 4 4; 25; 26 4

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, . The name is based on Common Germanic *ansuz "a god, one of the main deities in Germanic paganism".

The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a (EtruscanA-01.png), like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph.


In the Norwegian rune poem, óss is given a meaning of "estuary" while in the Anglo-Saxon one, ōs takes the Latin meaning of "mouth". The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune (ᛅ), which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār).

Since the name of Gothic a.svg a is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz "god", or *ahsam "ear (of wheat)".

Development in Anglo-Saxon runes

The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs (transliterated o), æsc "ash" (transliterated æ) and ac "oak" (transliterated a).

Development in Younger Futhark

Variations of the rune in Younger Futhark.

The Younger Futhark corresponding to the Elder Futhark Ansuz rune is , called óss. It is transliterated as ą. This represented the phoneme /ɑ̃/, and sometimes /æ/ (also written ) and /o/ (also written ). The variant grapheme becomes independent as representing the phoneme /ø/ during the 11th to 14th centuries.

Rune poems

In the Icelandic rune poem, the name óss refers to Odin:

Óss er algingautr
ok ásgarðs jöfurr,
ok valhallar vísi.
Jupiter oddviti.
Óss is aged Gautr
and prince of Ásgardr
and lord of Vallhalla.