Word of the Day - Thursday, September 22nd

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Word of the Day


Clever Clue of the Month

The Cruciverbalist


Thor (thohr)

    The Norse god of thunder.

·          Common clues: Mythical thunder god

·          Crossword puzzle frequency: 2 times a year

·          Frequency in English language: 41638 / 86800


Thor is the red-haired and bearded god of thunder and lightning in Germanic and Norse Mythology, the son of Odin and Jord. While Odin is the god of the powerful and aristocratic, Thor is much more the god of the common man, often siding with mortals against other gods. Thor was an outright hero for mankind, powerfully defeating his enemies, though he lost a wrestling match to an old woman named Elli (old age). During Ragnarok, Thor will kill and be killed by Jormungand. He lived in the hall of Bilskirnir in Thrudheim.


Thor's battle against the giants (1872), by Marten Eskil Winge.

Thor features strongly in the Eddas of Snorri Sturluson, where Thor's many conflicts with the race of giants are a main source of plots. As Snorri portrays him, Thor is a straightforward god, not necessarily the wisest or most intelligent; for instance, he is thoroughly made a fool of by the mysterious Utgardaloki and his magic spells.

Thor's family

Thor was the son of Odin and Jord (Earth). His wife was called Sif, and little is known of her except that she had golden hair, which was made for her by the dwarfs after the Loki had cut off her haddur (which means hair). With Jarnsaxa, Thor had the son Magni and with Sif he had Thrud and Modi. He also had a stepson called Ullr who was a son of Sif's.

Thor's possessions

Thor travelled in a chariot drawn by goats (Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr, Modern Icelandic Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostur) and with his servant and messenger Thjalfi or Thjelvar. These were not your normal goats or your usual chariot since the Eddas note that the earth was scorched and the mountains cracked as the goats ran across them. Furthermore, when Thor was hungry he would roast the goats for a meal. When he wanted to continue his travels, Thor only needed to touch the remains of the goats and they would be instantly restored to full health to resume their duties.

Thor owned a short-handled war hammer, Mjollnir, which, when thrown at a target, returned magically to the owner. To wield this formidable weapon, even a deity like Thor needed special iron gloves and a belt that doubled the wearer's strength.

The strike of the hammer caused thunderclaps, and indeed, the name of this deity has produced the word for thunder in most Germanic languages. With the hammer, Thor performed his giant killing duties.

Stories and myths

Most of the surviving myths centre on Thor's exploits, and from this and inscriptions on monuments we know that Thor was very much the favourite deity of ancient Scandinavians.

Loki was flying as a hawk one day and was captured by Geirrod. Geirrod, who hated Thor, demanded that Loki bring his enemy (who did not yet have his magic belt and hammer) to Geirrod's castle. Loki agreed to lead Thor to the trap. Grid was a giantess at whose home they stopped on the way to Geirrod's. She waited until Loki left the room then told Thor what was happening and gave him her iron gloves and magical belt and staff. Thor killed Geirrod, and all other frost giants he could find (including Geirrod's daughters, Gjalp and Greip).

Thor's daughter, Thrud, was promised to Alvis, a dwarf, in exchange for which Alvis made weapons for the gods. Thor devised a plan to stop Alvis from marrying his daughter. He told Alvis that, because of his small height, he had to prove his wisdom. Alvis agreed and Thor made the tests last until after the sun had risen--all dwarves turned to stone when exposed to sunlight, so Alvis was petrified and Thrud remained unmarried.

Named after Thor

  • "Tor's Day" or "Thor's Day" became Thursday in English, Donnerstag in German (meaning "Thunder's Day"), and Torsdag in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian.

  • "Thor's Oak" was an ancient tree near Fritzlar in northern Hesse (Germany) and one of the most sacred of sites of the old Germans. In 723, St. Boniface cut down the tree to demonstrate the superiority of the Christian god over Thor and the other Germanic/Nordic deities, an event that commonly marks the beginning of the Christianization of the non-Frankish Germans.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Thor".