One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounShetland, Orkney, Scottish
A ridge of sand or gravel formed by the sea; a gravelly beach; a sand-spit.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Probably from the unattested Norn reflex of the early Scandinavian word represented by Old Icelandic eyrr gravel-bank (Icelandic eyri), Faroese oyri gravel-bank, Norwegian ør, øyr sandbank, spit, headland, Old Swedish ör, Old Danish ør, øør sandy beach (Danish ør ridge of sand or gravel, especially one forming a spit or peninsula) from a variant (with i-mutation) of the same Germanic base as Old Icelandic aurr wet clay, loam, mud. In English regional (north-western) use probably the reflex of a borrowing of the early Scandinavian word represented by the Scandinavian forms listed above.
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