AskDefine | Define tyr

Dictionary Definition

Tyr n : (Norse mythology) god of war and strife and son of Odin; identified with Anglo-Saxon Tiu [syn: Tyrr]

Extensive Definition

Tyr (English ; Old Norse: Týr ) is the god of single combat and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as a one-handed man. In the late Icelandic Eddas, he is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto (see Tacitus' Germania) suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon. Tuesday is in fact "Tyr's Day." This is because the Anglo-Saxons at that time pronounced Tyr's name as "Tiw" thus giving his name to the 3rd day of the week.
Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Tyz , Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu, all from Proto-Germanic *Tîwaz. The Old Norse name became Norwegian Ty, Swedish Ti, while it remains Týr in Modern Icelandic and Faroese.
The oldest attestation of the god is Gothic *teiws, attested as tyz, in the 9th century Codex Vindobonensis 795.
Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point before the Migration Age.


The name Tyr meant "god" (cf. Hangatyr, the "god of the hanged" as one of Odin's names); probably inherited from Tyr in his role as judge and goes back to a Proto-Germanic Tîwaz, earlier Teiwaz, continuing Proto-Indo-European *deywos "god" (whence lang-la deus, and lang-lt dievas).

West Germanic Ziu / Tiw

A gloss to the Wessobrunn prayer names the Alamanni Cyowari (worshipers of Cyo) and their capital Augsburg Ciesburc.
The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza a the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.
The name of Mars Thingsus (Thincsus) is found in an inscription on an 3rd century altar from the Roman fort and settlement of Vercovicium at Housesteads in Northumberland, thought to have been erected by Frisian mercenaries stationed at Hadrian's Wall. It is interpreted as "Mars of the Thing".
There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped "Isis", and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

North Germanic Tyr

According to the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, at one stage the gods decided to shackle the wolf Fenrisulfr (Fenrir), but the beast broke every chain they put upon him. Eventually they had the dwarves make them a magical ribbon called Gleipnir from the noise a cat makes when it moves, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, the spittle of a bird, the beard of a woman, and the roots of a mountain . The gods took those items from the world and that is why they do not exist today. Fenrir sensed the gods' deceit and refused to be bound with it unless one of them put his hand in the wolf's mouth.
Tyr, known for his great honesty and courage, agreed, and the other gods bound the wolf. After Fenrir had been bound by the gods, he struggled to try and break the rope. When the gods saw that Fenrir was bound they all laughed, except Tyr, who had his right hand bitten off by the wolf. Fenrir will remain bound until the day of Ragnarök. As a result of this deed, Tyr is called the "Leavings of the Wolf".
According to the Prose version of Ragnarok, Tyr is destined to kill and be killed by Garm, the guard dog of Hel. However, in the two poetic versions of Ragnarok, he goes unmentioned; unless one believes that he is the "Mighty One".
In Lokasenna, Tyr is taunted with cuckoldry by Loki, maybe another hint that he had a consort or wife at one time.

Lexical traces

Tyr/Tiw had become relatively unimportant compared to Odin/Woden in both North and West Germanic, and specifically in the sphere of organized warfare. Traces of the god remain, however, in Tuesday (Old English tíwesdæg "Tiw's day"; Old Frisian tîesdei, Old High German zîestag, Old Norse týsdagr), named after Tyr in both the North and the West Germanic languages (corresponding to Martis dies, dedicated to the Roman god of war and the father-god of Rome, Mars) and also in the names of some plants: Old Norse Týsfiola (after the Latin Viola Martis), Týrhialm (Aconitum, one of the most poisonous plants in Europe whose helmet-like shape might suggest a warlike connection) and Týviðr, "Tý's wood", in the Helsingor Tiveden may also be named after Tyr, or reflecting Tyr as a generic word for "god" (i.e., the forest of the gods). In Norway the parish and municipality of Tysnes are named after the god.

Tiwaz rune

The t-rune ᛏ is named after Tyr, and was identified with this god., the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Tîwaz. The rune is sometimes also referred to as *Teiwaz, or spelling variants.
The rune was also compared with Mars as in the Icelandic rune poem:


  • Thisted, Jutland, Denmark - Tyr's Stead.
  • Tyrseng ("Tyr's Meadow"), Viby, Jutland, Denmark. Once a stretch of meadow near a stream called Dødeå ("Stream of the Dead" or "Dead Stream"), where ballgame courts now exist. Viby contained another theonym; Onsholt ("Odin's Holt") and religious practices associated with Odin and Tyr may have occurred in these places. A spring dedicated to Holy Neils that was likely a Christianization of prior indigenous pagan practice also exists in Viby and the city itself may mean "the settlement by the sacred site". Traces of sacrifices going back 2,500 years have been found in Viby.
  • Tiveden, Sweden - Tyr's Woods
  • Tysnes, Norway - Tyr's Headland

Personal names

Icelandic has a number of male names that are derived from Týr. Apart from Týr itself: Angantýr, Bryntýr, Hjálmtýr, Hrafntýr, Sigtýr, Valtýr and Vigtýr. When Týr is used in this way, joined to another name, it takes on a more general meaning of "a god" instead of referring to the god Týr.
The meaning of a name such as Hrafntýr (Hrafn means raven) is raven-god, god of the ravens. This would be a referral to Odin, who is the god of the ravens. Same thing happens with Valtýr, which means god of the slain, again referring to Odin.

Modern popular culture

Although representations of Tyr are less common than those of Thor, Odin or Loki, Tyr is often referenced or appears as a warrior figure in many modern depictions, particularly those relating to high fantasy, most prominently as the basis for Rand Al'Thor, in the series The Wheel Of Time, by Robert Jordan. Tyr is usually most identifiable by his missing arm or hand and lust for battle. The name Tyr is also mentioned in the fantasy based online game World of Warcraft as a stronghold for the Scarlet Crusade called Tyr's Hand.


There is a folk metal band Tyr from Faroe Islands. Official website:

External links

tyr in Tosk Albanian: Ziu
tyr in Bulgarian: Тир (бог)
tyr in Catalan: Týr
tyr in Czech: Týr
tyr in Danish: Tyr (krigsgud)
tyr in German: Tyr
tyr in Estonian: Tyr
tyr in Modern Greek (1453-): Τυρ
tyr in Spanish: Tyr
tyr in Persian: تیر (اساطیر)
tyr in Faroese: Týr (gudur)
tyr in French: Týr
tyr in Galician: Týr
tyr in Gothic: 𐍄𐌹𐌿𐍃
tyr in Croatian: Tyr
tyr in Indonesian: Tyr
tyr in Icelandic: Týr
tyr in Italian: Týr
tyr in Hebrew: טיר
tyr in Latvian: Tīrs
tyr in Lithuanian: Tiras
tyr in Dutch: Týr
tyr in Japanese: テュール
tyr in Norwegian: Ty
tyr in Norwegian Nynorsk: Ty
tyr in Polish: Tyr (bóg)
tyr in Portuguese: Tyr
tyr in Romanian: Tyr
tyr in Russian: Тюр
tyr in Simple English: Tyr
tyr in Slovenian: Tyr
tyr in Serbo-Croatian: Tyr
tyr in Finnish: Tyr
tyr in Swedish: Tyr
tyr in Vietnamese: Tyr
tyr in Turkish: Tyr
tyr in Chinese: 提爾

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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