PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England


[Image: Excerpt from the Domesday Book]
[Image: Durham Liber Vitae, folio 38r (extract)]


Author: CPL
Editorial Status: unknown

Discussion of the name

The masculine name Bædling has been taken to be a nickname formed from OE bædling, the latter meaning ‘an effeminate man, a homosexual’ (von Feilitzen 1937: 193). The related nouns bædling and bæddel (‘hermaphrodite’) in fact occur only in learned contexts (glossaries and a penitential) (OED: bad, adj., n.2, adv.; badling, n.1) and look rather like words coined for the occasion, or at least a specialized application of words with other meanings in ordinary usage. Derogatory nicknames were common in Anglo-Saxon England, but the insult of effeminacy perhaps stretches credibility as a personal name used by a man of high social standing.

Bædling and bæddel are potentially both derived from an unattested OE badde, though the early history of Middle English badde, Modern English bad is a minefield of speculation (MED: badde, adj.; Coates 1988). It is perhaps worth noting that the northern English dialect word badling meant ‘a worthless person, a good-for-nothing’ (OED: badling, n.1), arguably more plausible as a nickname and personal name, and certainly in line with the earliest appearances of badde in bynames after 1200 (MED: badde, adj.).

In the present state of research, the meaning of the OE name Bædling cannot be resolved with complete satisfaction, but it clearly existed, if with only a single known usage, the TRE landowner Bædling 2.


Coates 1988: Richard Coates, ‘Middle English badde and related puzzles’, NOWELLE: North Western European Language Evolution, 11 (Feb. 1988), 91–104

MED: On-line Middle English Dictionary

von Feilitzen 1937: Olof von Feilitzen, The Pre-Conquest Personal Names of Domesday Book, Nomina Germanica 3 (Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksells, 1937)

Forms of the name

Spellings in Domesday Book: Bedling, Bellinc

Forms in modern scholarship:

  von Feilitzen head forms: Bædling

  Phillimore edition: Belling

  Alecto edition: Bædling

Distribution map of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

People of this name

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