Keith Briggs

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The wolverine: an animal-name from a personal name?

This article of mine is in the Journal of the English Place-Name Society, 51 (2019), 69–70 (actually appeared Feb 2021).

It is suggested that the animal-name “wolverine” is derived from the Old English feminine personal name Wulfrun.

A pdf offprint is available here.


  • I should have cited Ben Parsons, `Pet' names in the OED, Notes and Queries, volume 63, issue 3, September 2016, pages 370–374, online here. Parsons discusses the examples Billy goat, Gib cat, Gill (mare), Grimalkin (cat), Magpie, Nanny goat, Polly (parrot), Tom cat, Tom-tit, giving many antedatings of OED. See also (with yet more examples) Ben Parsons, “Watte vocat”: human and animal naming in Gower's Visio Anglie, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, volume 119, number 3, July 2020, pages 380–398.
  • On Nanny (goat), see also Carole Hough, An ante-dating of the OED entry for Nanny `goat', Notes and Queries, volume 55, issue 2, June 2008, pages 134–135, online here.
  • errata

  • suspicious -> suspicions (this typo was introduced in the production process).
  • Footnote 1: insert “is” before “derived”.
  • bibtex citation

      author= {Keith Briggs},
      title=  {The wolverine: an animal-name from a personal name?},
      journal={Journal of the English Place-Name Society},
      volume= {51},
      pages=  {69--70},
      year=   {2019},
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