The word “ring-giver” is an example of a kenning. What are some other examples of kennings in Beowulf?

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caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kennings are compound metaphors common in literature derived from Old Norse linguistic traditions. Functionally they appear may appear frivolous or unnecessarily abstract, but are intended to provide imagery and dexterity to the poet in order to avoid repeating words or to improve the narrative creativity of the work. "Ring-giver" is intended to emphasize the role of a king or leader as a benefactor and source of reward for good service, rings (or torcs, a type of collar or necklace) being a form of jewelry that often conferred status.

Kennings are found throughout "Beowulf" and comprise a significant portion of the text, both in narrative illustration and word count. "Ring-giver" is found on line 1102, and others in this portion of the text include "hate-bites" on 1122, referring to wounds, and "battle-light" on 1142, referring to a sword.