"Giant." The common noun for a giant. They inhabit Jötunheimr, one of the nine worlds of Norse cosmology. They are the descendants of the primordial giant Ymir, the first being. Snorri Sturluson writes in Gylfaginning that as Ymir slept,
a sweat came upon him, and there grew under his left hand a man and a woman, and one of his feet begat a son with the other; and thus the races are come; these are the Rime-Giants.
When Ymir was slain by the sons of Borr, so much blood gushed forth out of his wounds that all the race of the Rime-Giants drowned, save one, called Bergelmir. He escaped with his wife and his household, and from them come the new races of Rime-Giants. This Borr, who was the son of Búri, the first man, married Bestla, the daughter of the giant Bölþorn. Snorri says that their sons are Odin, Vili and Vé. This would make Odin and his children, several of whom are included among the Æsir, descended from giants.
The relationship between the Æsir and the jötnar is a complicated and interesting one. The Æsir stole their women, wealth, and knowledge. Several of the gods took lovers among the giantesses and some even had children by them, notably Odin (with Jörð, the earth personified; with Rindr; and with Gunnlöð), Freyr (with Gerðr), Thor (with Járnsaxa), and Njörðr with Skaði. Odin steals the mead of poetry from the giant Suttungr, gained wisdom from Vafþrúðnir, created the earth from Ymir's body, etc. With the possible exception of Gefjon, none of the Ásynjur had giant lovers, although they were frequently sought after by them: Þjazi abducted Iðunn, and Freyja was desired by the giant builder, by Þrymr, and by Hrungnir.
The jötnar are the perennial enemies of the Æsir, particularly of Thor who has dispatched numerous of them with his hammer Mjöllnir. At the time of Ragnarök they will follow Loki and Hrymr to Vígríðr for the final battle, joined by the forces of Hel and the Sons of Múspell. In this battle only a few of the Æsir will survive.
The giants are typically described as huge beings. Skrýmir, for example, was so large that Thor and his companions mistook the giant's glove for a house. The giant Þrívaldi is said to have had nine heads.
Ægir, Alfarinn, Alsvartr, Ámr, Aurgelmir, Aurgrímnir, Aurnir, Baugi, Beinviðr, Bergelmir, Björgólfr, Blapþvari, Brandingi, Dofri, Dumbr, Durnir, Eimgeitir, Eldr, Fenrir, Fjalarr, Fjölverkr, Fleggr, Fornjótr, Fyrnir, Galarr, Ganglati, Gangr, Geirröðr, Geitir, Gillingr, Glaumarr, Glámr, Gripnir, Grímnir, Gusir, Gyllir, Gýmir, Hafli, Harðgreipr, Helreginn, Herkir, Hlói, Hrauðnir, Hrauðungr, Hraðverkr, Hringvölnir, Hripstoðr, Hrossþjófr, Hrungnir, Hræsvelgr, Hrímgrímnir, Hrímnir, Hrímþurs, Hróarr, Hrökkvir, Hundálfr, Hvalr, Hveðrungr, Hymir, Hástigi, Iði, Ímr, Kaldgrani, Kyrmir, Köttr, Leifi, Miði, Miðjungr, Mímir, Nati, Ófóti, Óglaðnir, Önduðr, Ösgrúi, Öskruðr, Rangbeinn, Salfangr, Skalli, Skerkir, Skrati, Skrýmir, Skærir, Sprettingr, Stígandi, Stórverkr, Stúmi, Surtr, Suttungr, Svartr, Svárangr, Svásuðr, Sámendill, Sækarlsmúli, Sómr, Sökkmímir, Þistilbarði, Þjazi, Þrymr, Þrígeitir, Þrívaldi, Þrúðgelmir, Vafþrúðnir, Vagnhöfði, Vandill, Verr, Viddi, Vindr, Vindsvalr, Vingnir, Víparr, Víðblindi, Víðgrípr, Vörnir, and Ymir.
A female giant is also called gýgr (plural gýgjar) or íviðja (plural íviðjur).
The word may be related with the verb eta ("to eat"), from the Old English term eoten and Middle English etting.
- Gylfaginning, 5, 7.