Klefsan (Clessán)

Klefsan, an Irish buffoonish character described in one of the Irish marvels of Konungs skuggsjá, according to which he was able to provoke laughter even in death when his skull was put on display in the churchyard where his body lay buried. According to Kuno Meyer, Klefsan represents a corrupt form of an originally Irish name, Clessán (from cless ‘trick’). He suggests that its corrupt form is attributable to a misreading (implicitly, of Insular s for f). Cf. Mac Rustaing in the Commentary to the Félire Óengusso.


Secondary sources (select)

Collinson, Lisa A., “A new etymology for Hamlet? The names Amlethus, Amlodi and Admlithi”, Review of English Studies (New Series) 62:257 (November, 2011): 675–694.  

The Hamlet-name may have been associated with players several centuries earlier than has hitherto been thought. It is well-known that Hamlet is related to Amlethus, found in Gesta Danorum, by Saxo Grammaticus. However, the etymologies of both Amlethus and the linked Icelandic name, Amlođi, have remained unclear. One possibility, explored in this article, is that these derive from the player-name, Admlithi, found in the Irish tale, Togail Bruidne Da Derga. Admlithi could have been transmitted to Saxo either as a player-name, or as a nautical noa-term (perhaps denoting a dangerous sea whirlpool, such as Coire Brecáin), or both; and it may have carried some small hint of its meaning with it on its journey into Gesta Danorum and beyond.

Meyer, Kuno, “The Irish mirabilia in the Norse ‘Speculum Regale’ [Revised version]”, Ériu 4 (1908–1910): 1–16.  
comments: A somewhat revised version of Meyer 1894b
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