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"Scandinavian poet and singer of medieval times," 1763, from Old Norse skald "skald, poet" (9c.), of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE root *sekw- (3) "to say, utter." The modern word is an antiquarian revival. "Usually applied to Norwegian and Icelandic poets of the Viking period and down to c 1250, but often without any clear idea as to their function and the character of their work" [OED]. Related: Scaldic.