One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in the UK) a subdivision of certain northern and midland English counties, corresponding to a hundred in other counties.
- ‘The shire was divided into wapentakes rather than hundreds, and many of the place-names - Ingarsby, Scraptoft, and Barkby Thorpe - are of Scandinavian origin.’
- ‘Where Scandinavian influence was strongest, such as Yorkshire and the Five Boroughs, the equivalent sub-division was the wapentake.’
- ‘The first step was to divide the shires into hundreds (in Danish areas, the term wapentake was used), a reorganisation which probably occurred during the reigns of Edward the Elder and Athelstan.’
- ‘The myth behind this depiction is one dear to English hearts, of England as she was before foreign invasion brought kingship and barony in place of the ancient system of wapentakes and hundreds.’
Late Old English wǣpen(ge)tæc, from Old Norse vápnatak, from vápn ‘weapon’ + taka ‘take’, perhaps with reference to voting in an assembly by a show of weapons.
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