Mystery Monday: Sintarwizzilo

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Some medieval names have retained their popularity throughout the ages, and are still familiar today — and sometimes not only familiar, but ragingly popular.

Some medieval names, on the other hand, have fallen into complete obscurity and even the most hipster of hipsters would balk at giving such a name to their child. Today’s mystery name, recorded in early 9th C Italy in Latin, is one of the latter. For our purposes, we’re merely interested in investigating its etymology and determining whether it was used in any other context — we think it unlikely that anyone today is likely to revive this name. (On the other hand, “Wizzy” is a great nickname. Or maybe not!)


Do you recognize the name? Have any thoughts about its origin? Please share in the comments!



Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

2 responses to “Mystery Monday: Sintarwizzilo

  1. Brian M. Scott

    Förstemann has Sintarfizilo 827, Sintarfizzilo 828, Sintarvizilo 824, Sintarvizzilo 821, 826, 826, 828, Sintarwizzilo 817, and Sintaruihzilo 823, which may all refer to the same person, and Sintarfezzil 900; all are from Bavarian sources. The name is generally identified with Old Norse Sinfjǫtli, the name of the son of Signý Vǫlsungsdóttir and her brother Sigmundr; a parallel character in Beowulf is named Fitela, which evidently corresponds to -fizilo and -fjǫtli.

    De Vries notes a Burgundian Sindrafitils alongside the OHG and ON names and identifies the second element of these names with Langobard fetila ‘gestiefelt, eig[entlich] mit einem weissen vorder- und hinterfuss’, noting MHG vizzel ‘fetter; fetlock’, OE fitelfōta, OSax fitilfōt, OHG fizzilfuoz ‘white-footed’. The first element is a bit of a puzzle.

    E. Sievers discussed the name at some length. He agrees with Jacob Grimm that the first element corresponds to OHG sintar, OE sindor, ON sindr ‘scoria, slag of metal’ and, like Grimm, notes ON sindra ‘to send out sparks, to sparkle’. He makes a decent argument that the term originally implies a glowing yellow like that of molten slag, so that if Sintar- in the name refers to color, that color is a glowing yellow, not the dark grey of hardened iron slag. However, he can’t explain the resulting compound and offers it in case someone else can. Others have made the same identification but interpreted it differently.

    Rudolf Kögel suggests that sintar-, from *sindra-, could be a byform of *sundra-; Förstemann adds the parallel example of Sindrabert alongside Sundarbert and Sundrabert. This would be from PGmc *sundraz ‘separate, isolated, alone’, which acquired intensive force in at least some Gmc languages, e.g., OE sundorwine ‘bosom friend’ and MHG sunder ‘sehr’ (among many other senses). Kögel suggests that Sintarfizilo is simply a strengthened form of Fizilo, which, unlike Sievers, he takes to mean ‘spotted, patchy’, though he agrees that it’s cognate with the Latin adjective petilus. He takes it to be a reference to the mythological character’s incestuous parentage.

    None of these 19th century writers seems to know of any historical examples later than the 10th century.

  2. Jörg Knappen

    This is a rare name and a really difficult one, too.

    Förstemann (1900) relates the prototheme Sintar to Old High German sundar (related to Modern German (aus-)sondern “to separate” and besonders “special, exceptional”). The deuterotheme could be related to Old High German wizzan “to know, Modern German wissen, related English word wit; or alternatively to Middle High German fiez (maybe related to the English verb to fit) “sly, cunning, crafty; wise clever, ingenious”.

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