Etymology: The History of Mead

             Mead, an alcoholic liquor made by fermenting a mixture of honey and water, is a word that has been inherited from the Germanic culture. The Anglo-Saxons saw mead as a status of wealth and power. From this one word, many derivatives have been created through the years, from Old English to modern day. The earliest text with mead in it is found in 66 C. E. in a riddle, aptly named Riddle 20 with an unknown author, "Cyningne wyrneð wordlofes, wisan mæneð mine for mengo, þær hy meodu drincað." The use of the term can be found in all forms of literary genres, from Beowulf in 604 C. E. to an autobiography of Mary Delany in 1747.
             While studying the history of the use of the word, etymologist we're able to see how mead was not only a safe beverage to drink but also how it informed us of the intricacies of Anglo-Saxon culture, through poetry, stories, and riddles. A medu-burh was what they called their community or village and it would be a place famous for those who would come and drink mead. The warrior would visit the meduheall (mead-hall) or meduseld (mead-house) – which was a building in which mead was produced, kind of like are modern day bars. They would get there by traversing along a medustíg (path to the mead-hall) through the meduwang (land surrounding the meadhall).
             There was even a mead vocabulary once you entered the mead-hall. The place to sit was called a medubenc (mead-bench) though this turn of phrase is only used in reference to the early Middle Ages in Western Europe. Once you sat down you could engage in medudrinc (mead-drinking) with a meduscenc (mead-cup). After drinking a significant amount of mead you would become happy with medudréam (mead-joy, but drinking too much mead would leave you meduwérig (drunk on mead). Mead began to die off as the drink of choice in the Middle Ages when the aristocrats and royalty began to drink wine, delegating mead as a drink for those who were n...

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