O.E. run, rune
"secret, mystery, dark mysterious statement," also "a runic letter," from P.Gmc. *runo
(cf. O.N. run
"a secret, magic sign, runic character," O.H.G. runa
"a secret conversation, whisper," Goth. runa
), from PIE *ru-no-,
source of technical terms of magic in Gmc. and Celtic. The word entered M.E. as roun
and by normal evolution would have become Mod.Eng. *rown,
but it died out c.1450 when the use of runes did. The modern usage is from 1685, introduced by Ger. philologists from a Scand. source (cf. Dan. rune,
from O.N. run
). The runic alphabet is believed to have developed by 2c. C.E. from contact with Gk. writing, the alphabet modified to be more easily cut into wood or stone. Cf. also Runnymede.
For some notes on the Germanic runes, see this page.