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[roon] /run/
any of the characters of certain ancient alphabets, as of a script used for writing the Germanic languages, especially of Scandinavia and Britain, from c200 to c1200, or a script used for inscriptions in a Turkic language of the 6th to 8th centuries from the area near the Orkhon River in Mongolia.
something written or inscribed in such characters.
an aphorism, poem, or saying with mystical meaning or for use in casting a spell.
Origin of rune1
1675-85; < Old Norse rūn a secret, writing, runic character; cognate with Old English rūn (Middle English rune, obsolete English roun). See round2
Related forms
runelike, adjective


[roon] /run/
noun, Literary.
a poem, song, or verse.
1865-70; < Finnish runo poem, canto < Scandinavian. See rune1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rune
Historical Examples
  • What is the rune that is said for the throwing into the sea of the sins of the dead?

  • On the top of the armring there was a small fingerring with a rune graved upon it.

    The Children of Odin Padraic Colum
  • Thy dreams now, indeed, are oracles, more true than living Vala could charm with the wand and the rune: Unfold them.

    Harold, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The fourth rune was the rune of the Green Trees and of all things that grow.

    The Washer of the Ford Fiona Macleod
  • In the Kalevala it is a bee that brings the honey which restores Lemminkinen; rune 15, 530.

  • The seventh rune was the rune of Death, from the quenching of a gnat to the fading of the stars.

    The Washer of the Ford Fiona Macleod
  • Having done this, she kneeled and said a rune of the morning, and after that a prayer, and then a prayer for the poor man Neil.

  • The eighth rune was the rune of the Soul that dieth not, and the Spirit that is.

    The Washer of the Ford Fiona Macleod
  • Is the boy of so much importance that I must carve his rune on a separate stick?

    The Vinland Champions Ottilie A. Liljencrantz
  • Their voices were like the rune of the heart of the forest, like the music of deep streams.

    Helmet of Navarre Bertha Runkle
British Dictionary definitions for rune


any of the characters of an ancient Germanic alphabet, derived from the Roman alphabet, in use, esp in Scandinavia, from the 3rd century ad to the end of the Middle Ages. Each character was believed to have a magical significance
any obscure piece of writing using mysterious symbols
a kind of Finnish poem or a stanza in such a poem
Derived Forms
runic, adjective
Word Origin
Old English rūn, from Old Norse rūn secret; related to Old Saxon, Old High German, Gothic runa
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for rune

Old English run, rune "secret, mystery, dark mysterious statement, (secret) council," also "a runic letter" (runstæf), from Proto-Germanic *runo (cf. Old Norse run "a secret, magic sign, runic character," Old High German runa "a secret conversation, whisper," Gothic runa), from PIE *ru-no-, source of technical terms of magic in Germanic and Celtic (cf. Gaelic run "a secret, mystery, craft, deceit, purpose, intention, desire," Welsh rhin "a secret, charm, virtue." Cf. also Runnymede.

The word entered Middle English as roun and by normal evolution would have become Modern English *rown, but it died out mid-15c. when the use of runes did. The modern usage is from late 17c., from German philologists who had reintroduced the word in their writings from a Scandinavian source (cf. Danish rune, from Old Norse run). The runic alphabet is believed to have developed by 2c. C.E. from contact with Greek writing, with the letters modified to be more easily cut into wood or stone.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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