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for the town in Nepal see Gothi, Nepal
A depiction of a goði leading the people in sacrificing to an idol of Thor in this painting by J.L. Lund.

A goði or gothi (plural goðar) is the Old Norse term for a priest and chieftain. Gyðja signifies a priestess.

The name appears in Wulfila's Gothic language translation of the bible as gudja for "priest", but in Old Norse it is only the feminine form gyðja that perfectly corresponds to the Gothic form.[1] The corresponding masculine Old Norse form would have been an unattested *gyði.[1]

In Scandinavia there are surviving early attestations in the Proto-Norse form gudija from the Norwegian Nordhuglo runestone,[2] and in the later Old Norse form goði from two Danish runestones, the Glavendrup stone (DR 209) and the Helnæs Runestone (DR 190).[1] There are also a few placenames, such as Gudby in Södermanland, Sweden, that probably retain the name.[3]

Otherwise, there are no further surviving attestations except from Iceland where the goðar would be of historical significance. The goðar are depicted in the Sagas as the religious and political leaders of their district or goðorð. In Iceland, prior to Christianization, religious temples or hofs were privately owned and maintained by a hofgoði or temple priest. They were also an important part of the Icelandic political system for a long time after the arrival of Christianity.

The term goði is often used as a priestly title by modern adherents of various denominations of Germanic Neopaganism, especially in Ásatrú.

A goðorð or godord refers to a domain or an area of influence controlled by an Icelandic medieval chieftain, or goði.


  1. ^ a b c An Icelandic-English dictionary by Richard Cleasby and Gudbrand Vigfusson (1874) p. 208.
  2. ^ The article gotiska in Nationalencyklopedin (1992)
  3. ^ Hellquist 1966:308


  • Byock, Jesse L. (1993). Goði. Entry in Medieval Scandinavia, an Encyclopedia (Phillip Pulsiano, ed.), 230-231. Garland: NY and London, ISBN 0-8240-4787-7.
  • Hellquist, Elof. (1966). Svensk etymologisk ordbok. C.W.K. Gleerups förlag, Lund.
  • Jón Hnefill Aðalsteinsson (1998). Blót and Þing: The Function of the Tenth-Century Goði, in A Piece of Horse Liver: Myth, Ritual and Folklore in Old Icelandic Sources, 35-56. Reykjavik, ISBN 9979-54-264-0.

See also



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