Word Origin & History
O.E. hræfn (Mercian), hrefn; hræfn (Northumbrian, W.Saxon), from P.Gmc. *khrabanas (cf. O.N. hrafn, Dan. ravn, Du. raaf, O.H.G. hraban, Ger. Rabe "raven," O.E. hroc "rook"), from PIE base *qer-, *qor-, imitative of harsh sounds (cf. L. crepare "to creak, clatter," cornix "crow," corvus "raven;"
Gk. korax "raven," korone "crow;" O.C.S. kruku "raven;" Lith. krauklys "crow").
"The common raven is easily tamed, but is mischievous and thievish, and has been popularly regarded as a bird of evil omen and mysterious character." [OED]
O.E. also used hræmn, hremm. The raven standard was the flag of the Danish Vikings.
1520s, the surviving prp. of an extinct verb raven "to prey, to plunder" (late 14c., implied in ravener), from O.Fr. raviner (see ravenous
), and is not etymologically related to raven (n.).