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[vahy-king] /ˈvaɪ kɪŋ/
noun, (sometimes lowercase)
any of the Scandinavian pirates who plundered the coasts of Europe from the 8th to 10th centuries.
a sea-roving bandit; pirate.
a Scandinavian.
U.S. Aerospace. one of a series of space probes that obtained scientific information about Mars.
Origin of Viking
1800-10; < Scandinavian; compare Old Norse vīkingr; compare Old English wīcing pirate; etymology disputed Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for vikings


noun (sometimes not capital)
Also called Norseman, Northman. any of the Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes who raided by sea most of N and W Europe from the 8th to the 11th centuries, later often settling, as in parts of Britain
any sea rover, plunderer, or pirate
either of two unmanned American spacecraft that reached Mars in 1976
(modifier) of, relating to, or characteristic of a Viking or Vikings: a Viking ship
Word Origin
C19: from Old Norse vīkingr, probably from vīk creek, sea inlet + -ingr (see -ing³); perhaps related to Old English wīc camp
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 vikings



Scandinavian pirate, 1807, vikingr; modern spelling attested from 1840. The word is a historical revival; it was not used in Middle English, but it was revived from Old Norse vikingr "freebooter, sea-rover, pirate, viking," which usually is explained as meaning properly "one who came from the fjords," from vik "creek, inlet, small bay" (cf. Old English wic, Middle High German wich "bay," and second element in Reykjavik). But Old English wicing and Old Frisian wizing are almost 300 years older, and probably derive from wic "village, camp" (temporary camps were a feature of the Viking raids), related to Latin vicus "village, habitation" (see villa).

The connection between the Norse and Old English words is still much debated. The period of Viking activity was roughly 8c. to 11c. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the raiding armies generally were referred to as þa Deniscan "the Danes," while those who settled in England were identified by their place of settlement. Old Norse viking (n.) meant "freebooting voyage, piracy;" one would "go on a viking."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vikings in Culture

Vikings definition

Warriors from Scandinavia who raided much of coastal Europe in the eighth to tenth centuries. The Vikings traveled in boats with high bows and sterns, carefully designed for either rough seas or calm waters. Eventually some Vikings settled in the countries they plundered and established new societies.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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