from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A tax levied in England from the 10th to the 12th century to finance protection against Danish invasion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tax raised originally to protect against Viking raiders in the 10th and 11th centuries, and later continued as a land tax.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An annual tax formerly laid on the English nation to buy off the ravages of Danish invaders, or to maintain forces to oppose them. It afterward became a permanent tax, raised by an assessment, at first of one shilling, afterward of two shillings, upon every hide of land throughout the realm.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In English history, an annual tax first imposed in 991 on the decree of the witan in order to obtain funds for the maintenance of forces to oppose the Danes, or for furnishing tribute to procure peace.


Middle English : Dane, genitive pl. of Dan, Dane; see Dane + geld, tribute (from Old English geld, gield, payment).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Apparently from Old Norse *Danagjald (Old Danish Danegjeld), from the genitive plural Danir ("Danes") + gjald ("payment, tribute"). (Wiktionary)



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  • I see that the purveyor of the WotD is honoring tax day in the US. I am moved to tears.

    When agony's over and the tribute paid
    At Norsemen’s feet the blame is laid.
    The Danegeld, the fact is,
    Began all our taxes
    Which feel to this day like a Viking raid.

    April 15, 2014