Ansuz (rune)

NameProto-GermanicOld EnglishOld Norse
ShapeElder FutharkFuthorcYounger Futhark
Runic letter ansuz.svgRunic letter os.svgRunic letter ac.svgRunic letter ansuz.svgLong-branch Oss.svgShort-twig Oss.svg
Transcriptionaoaæą, o
IPA[a(ː)][o(ː)][ɑ(ː)][æ(ː)][ɑ̃], [o(ː)]
Position in

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, . The name is based on Proto-Germanic *ansuz, denoting a deity belonging to the principal pantheon in Germanic paganism.

The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a (EtruscanA-01.png), like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph.


In the Norwegian rune poem, óss is given a meaning of "estuary" while in the Anglo-Saxon one, ōs takes the Latin meaning of "mouth". The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune (ᛅ), which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār).

Since the name of   a is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz "god", or *ahsam "ear (of wheat)".

Development in Anglo-Saxon runesEdit

The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs (transliterated o), ac "oak" (transliterated a), and æsc "ash" (transliterated æ).

Development in Younger FutharkEdit

Variations of the rune in Younger Futhark.

The Younger Futhark corresponding to the Elder Futhark ansuz rune is , called óss. It is transliterated as ą. This represented the phoneme /ɑ̃/, and sometimes /æ/ (also written ) and /o/ (also written ). The variant grapheme became independent as representing the phoneme /ø/ during the 11th to 14th centuries.

Rune poemsEdit

In the Icelandic rune poem, the name óss refers to Odin:

Óss er algingautr
   ok ásgarðs jöfurr,
   ok valhallar vísi.

Óss is aged Gautr
   and prince of Asgard
   and lord of Valhalla.