How to read Gothic handwriting – 4 – Letters to words

In this installment I will look at some words that frequently appear in church records.

I hope you have had a look at the previous installments of the quest into Gothic handwriting. If not, you find them starting here.

I will present words that are commonly found in church records. The words can also be found in my Norwegian genealogy dictionary.

Looking at these words I try to identify each individual letter to make sure they give meaning. I realize that it is a handicap to not know the Norwegian language. it is, however, an opportunity to learn some Norwegian words and the Gothic letters they are made up of. it is of great value to have a Norwegian – English Dictionary. Many words you encounter in genealogy may not appear in a modern dictionary, but I try to collect these words in my genealogy dictionary that I refer to above.

As I note some places in the text, I have included words that are written in latin letters. I decided to do that, making this not only an introduction to Gothic handwriting, but hopefully making this also a help to navigate the church records.

Here we go:

forretet Gudstiniste ved Home




forrætted Guds tieniste ved home. This means “celebrated mass at Home (sub-parish)” When looking for baptisms in a chronological written book it is often smart to look for a heading like this as the baptism normally took place during the Church service.



Drenge børn. This word means male children. Dreng is Danish meaning boy. Note that this word is also used about farm hands no matter age. We recognize the different letters. The r‘s are not as distinct as the ones we have looked at before. This particular Word is from a heading where the male and the female baptisms are listed separately. In a chronological list it would say Drengebarn, Drengeb., Dr.b. or Dreng, all meaning male children. Typically found in baptism records.




Pigebørn. This means female children. Pige is Danish, the Norwegian word is pike. This is also a heading in a baptismal section. In a chronological list it would be written Pigebarn, Pigeb., P.b. or Pige. Typically found in baptism records.



SønSøn means son. In baptismal records it would appear as e.g. Hans Hanssons Søn. After this word,  the name of the child is written. In many baptism records the name of the child is underlined.







Datter means daughter. E.g. Hans Hanssons Datter. Here the D and the e is a bit rough, but based on the other letters and the context we can tell that this word is Datter.






Døbt means baptised.





Foreldre means parents








Parentes this is latin and means parents. Written in latin letters.






Fad: This is an abbreviation for “Faddere” wich means witnesses to a baptism.






Test. This is an abbreviation for Testes/Testis meaning witnesses to a baptism.




Uekte 2


uægte This is an abbreviation for utenfor ægteskapet meaning that the child was born out of wedlock.






confirmerede means confirmed. These letters are latin.



If we move on to the marriage section of the church book we find:


Trolovede means betrothed or engaged. Sometimes this is the main part in the marriage section of the Church book. The notice about the wedding date are then added  when it took place. I have seen the planned wedding date being recorded at the time of the engagement and later learned that the wedding never took place (at that date).



Copuler: is an abbrevation for copuleret meaning wedded. It may be written as Copuleret, Copul. or Cop. The name of the couple is normally written after this word. The r at the end of this word is clearly latin. Very often latin words were written with latin letters.





Wiede means wedded. This is not a latin word, but except for the W in the beginning of the word these letters are latin. I have seen capital M written looking very much like this W





gift means wedded






Spons: means Sponsorer. witnesses to the wedding. The names of the witnesses are listed after this word.







Cautionistre/Cautionister. Witnesses to a wedding. The names of the witnesses are listed after this word.



When looking for burials you may find these words:




Dødde/Døde means dead. This is typically a heading to the burial section



Blef graflagt


Blef graflagt means “was buried”. Here the f and the l in graflagt has merged as the minister has written with a fairly broad pen. In the other pictures I have cleaned up around the word we are looking at. I choose to keep the other text in this picture to show how the lines above and below can disturb the impression.






Begravet means buried.



I must admit that I have struggled a bit writing this post. My problem has been to choose what to include and what to leave out, while trying to make it relevant for as many as possible. It is a fact that the Norwegian Church records is very varied in their organization and layout. Also very many different words and abbreviations is used to express the same thing. Last, but not least; every minister had his own handwriting. Some wrote very beautifully, others had a really bad handwriting (like me 🙂 )

If you have thoughts or questions about this posting, don’t hesitate to contact me. You can do it by writing in the comment section below or you can send me a personal Message by going to the contact page.

If you have stuck with me this far, I hope you will come back for the last installment of this introduction to Gothic handwriting. There I will share some further advice as to how to navigate records written in Gothic letters.


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