Why Wyngraf?

When it came time to name Wyngraf, we drew inspiration from the coziest creatures in fantasy: J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbits. Tolkien used Old English to represent the language of the Shire (remember, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are purportedly translations of actual books). He came up with such indelible words as “mathom,” meaning a useless knick-knack that’s nevertheless too valuable to sell, from the Old English maðm, meaning “treasure.”

Armed only with a copy of A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, 4th Edition by J.R. Clark Hall, the Wyngraf team went digging.

Eventually we hit upon the word wyngrāf, meaning “delightful grove” in Clark Hall’s translation. That felt properly cozy, and it stuck.

Wyngrāf is a classic Old English compound word. The first part is wynn, meaning “joy, rapture, pleasure, delight, gladness” and the root of “winsome.” (It’s also related to “wonder.”) The second part, grāf, became our modern word “grove” directly. But it’s a bit of a pun, too: in editor-speak, “graf” is slang for paragraph!

So we had our wonderful paragraphs grove. But where did this lovely word come from? Apparently it’s only used once in the Anglo-Saxon canon, in a text known as the Paris Psalter. Written around 1050 CE as part of Alfred the Great’s educational reforms, the Paris Psalter sets the Biblical psalms in their original Latin, side by side with an Old English translation.

Also, the monk who created the manuscript was named Wulfwine the Lumpy.


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