In the book Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (2017) both the names Fenrir and Fenris Wolf are used.

Example, from chapter "Ragnarok: The Final Destiny of the Gods":

Fenrir, the great wolf, will free himself from his shackles... Where Fenris Wolf walks, flaming destruction follows.

This distinction in name usage does not appear to be random or unintentional. As in the above quote, both forms of the name are used sometimes in close proximity.

My first thought was that the term "Fenris" in "Fenris Wolf" was being used as a sort of modifier / adjective. But since "Wolf" is capitalized that does not seem correct. More that "Fenris Wolf" is the full name but "Fenrir" is a type of abbreviation?

I didn't count carefully but "Fenrir" appears to be the more common usage.

I'm interested in anything related to this specific book, its sources, related authentic materials, etc.

  • It's more two names for the same being - in Old Norse the names were Fenrir and Fenrisúlfr - the latter of which is typically anglicized as 'Fenris-wolf'.
    – user888379
    Jan 30, 2019 at 1:59
  • And Fenris-wolf means (if I understand what I've read correctly) "Wolf of the Fens", and I think refers to where he was left imprisoned. So it's as much a title as a name.
    – Arcanist Lupus
    Jan 30, 2019 at 2:07

2 Answers 2


In Norse mythology, he is called both Fenrir and Fenrisúlfr. Fenrisúlfr means Fenrir's Wolf, but it seems to be common to translate it as Fenris Wolf.

For example, here's a poem (from Vafþrúðnismál, I believe) that calls him "Fenrir":

Óðinn kvað:
"Fjölð ek fór, fjölð ek freistaðak,
fjölð ek of reynda regin:
Hvaðan kemr sól á inn slétta himin,
er þessa hefr fenrir farit?"

Othin spake:
"Much have I fared, | much have I found,
Much have I got of the gods:
Whence comes the sun | to the smooth sky back,
When Fenrir has snatched it forth?"

And here's an example of it written as "Fenrisúlfr" (from the Skáldskaparmál):

Hvernig skal kenna Loka? Svá, at kalla hann son Fárbauta ok Laufeyjar, Nálar, bróður Býleists ok Helblinda, föður Vánargands, þat er Fenrisúlfr...

How should one periphrase Loki? Thus: call him Son of Fárbauti and Laufey, or of Nil, Brother of Býleistr and of Helblindi, Father of the Monster of Ván (that is, Fenris-Wolf)...


As Snorri Sturluson's Edda says, in the Skaldskaparmal (pg 164 of my Faulkes translation):

warg, wolf, Geri, watcher and grey beast, Hati, Hrodvitnir and heath-dweller, Freki and forest dweller, Fenrir, leopard, Goti, worthy, noisy, howler, fighter, dusky, dreadful and dark-cheeked.

Further terms can be found on the wikipedia page:

Fenrir (Old Norse/Icelandic: "fen-dweller"), Fenrisúlfr (Old Norse/Icelandic: "Fenris wolf"), Hróðvitnir (Old Norse/Icelandic: "fame-wolf"), or Vánagandr (Old Norse/Icelandic: "the monster of the river Ván")

Hati and Skoll from the first list are both distinguishable from Fenrir in some stories as the wolves who chase sun and moon, though in other stories they seem to be directly wrapped up with Fenrir.

These are just the direct names - the Norse tradition of kennings adds many other less commonly used names.

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