Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of the characters in several alphabets used by ancient Germanic peoples from the 3rd to the 13th century.
  • n. A similar character in another alphabet, sometimes believed to have magic powers.
  • n. A poem or incantation of mysterious significance, especially a magic charm.
  • n. A Finnish poem or section of a poem.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A letter, or character, belonging to the written language of various ancient Germanic peoples, especially the Scandinavians and the Anglo-Saxons.
  • n. A Finnish poem, or a division of one, especially a division of the Kalevala.
  • n. Any verse or song, especially one with mystical or mysterious overtones; an incantation.
  • n. A roun.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A letter, or character, belonging to the written language of the ancient Norsemen, or Scandinavians; in a wider sense, applied to the letters of the ancient nations of Northern Europe in general.
  • n. Old Norse poetry expressed in runes.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A letter or character used by the peoples of northern Europe from an early period to the eleventh century; in the plural, the ancient Scandinavian alphabets, believed to be derived from a Greek source; especially, the letters carved on stones, weapons, etc., found in Scandinavia, Scotland, and Ireland. Runes are found in almost all the maritime parts of Europe.
  • n. A short mystic sentence embodying the wisdom of the old Northern philosophers.
  • n. A secret; mystery; obscure saying.
  • n. Early rimes or poetry expressed, or which might be expressed, in runic characters.
  • n. Any song, poem, verse, or the like, which is mystically or obscurely expressed.
  • n. An obsolete variant of rine, run.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any character from an ancient Germanic alphabet used in Scandinavia from the 3rd century to the Middle Ages

Etymologies

Old Norse or Old English rūn.
Finnish runo, of Germanic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old Norse rún. Compare roun. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • If the rune were a word, it would have been that one, but there was more meaning to it than any word she could imagine.

    The Mortal Instruments: Book One: City of Bones

  • 'Now I must recall the rune which came so easily, unsummoned, to my brain not many months since.'

    Elric of Melnibone

  • The word "rune," in Baltic Runes, indicates a magical incantation -- an apt image for such an enchanting album.

    On CD: Baltic Runes

  • The word "rune" comes from a Gothic word meaning a secret thing, a mystery.

    Early European History

  • Despite the fact that scholars of all nations scoffed at the thing and pointed out that the very term 'rune' is of Teutonic origin, one enthusiastic old gentleman -- Mr. Michael Bawdrey, a retired brewer, thirsting for something more enduring than malt to carry his name down the ages -- became fired with enthusiasm upon the subject, and set forth for

    Cleek, the Master Detective

  • So this dear, deluded old gentleman, having failed to secure a 'rune' in Java brought back something equally cryptic -- a woman?

    Cleek, the Master Detective

  • So this dear, deluded old gentleman, having failed to secure a 'rune' in Java, brought back something equally cryptic -- a woman?

    Cleek: the Man of the Forty Faces

  • Despite the fact that scholars of all nations scoffed at the thing, and pointed out that the very term 'rune' is of Teutonic origin, one enthusiastic old gentleman -- Mr. Michael Bawdrey, a retired brewer, thirsting for something more enduring than malt to carry his name down the ages -- became fired with enthusiasm upon the subject, and set forth for

    Cleek: the Man of the Forty Faces

  • When written letters were first known in the north of Europe they were supposed to have magic powers, and gradually the word "rune" came to mean any spell, or even any wisdom which was beyond the ordinary knowledge of men.

    The Story of Sigurd the Volsung

  • Kuz him bak rite paw iz stil bare, an’ aint nuffin lyke bein’ lawpsydid to rune a katz dai.

    oh hai does you has new legs 4 meh - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

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