Definition of byrnie in English:



  • A coat of mail.

    ‘the byrnie could not withstand solid blows with the axe’
    • ‘In common we all share sword, helmet, byrnie, the trappings of war.’
    • ‘He said that his armour was almost useless, his byrnie broken, his helmet burst open.’
    • ‘That mailshirts and helms would have been widespread is shown by the fact that Ethelred commanded that every eight hides provide a helmet and byrnie.’
    • ‘Their byrnies were gleaming, the strong links of shining chain-mail chinked together.’
    • ‘They had shields and helms, but no byrnies, except a hundred men that were most lissom.’
    • ‘The mail byrnie of the Vikings had been sufficient to give reasonable protection to the fighting man at close quarters from the sword-blows of his adversary.’
    armour, coat of mail, chain mail, chain armour
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Old Norse brynja.