Attested: Tacitus Annals 12, 31: ... et Sabrinam fluvios ...
Ptolemy 2,3,3 Σαβρινα εισχυσις;
mentioned by Gildas and Bede
Where: The river Severn. Ptolemy's coordinates map surprisingly high up the river, close to Gloucester, around SO7510.
Name origin: Many river names came from PIE *sab- ‘juice’ and/or *seib- ‘to pour, to seep’, as discussed under the related name Saponis. Krahe (1963:336) listed eight rivers whose names began with Sav-, while Villar (2000:?) listed eight Indo-European examples beginning with Sab-, six with Sav-, and four with Sau-. The –rina part has plenty of flowing-water parallels, such as the river Rhine, Irish rían ‘sea’, or OE ryne ‘water channel’, whose PIE root is debatable: possibly *rendh- ‘to tear up’ or *er- or *reiə- ‘to flow (fast)’.
Notes: Initial S changed to H in later Welsh (Hafren) but not English. The idea of Sabrina as a goddess, like so much reported by Geoffrey of Monmouth, may be spurious.
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Last edited: 28 August 2018