Skip to main content
Select Source:

Ymir

Ymir

A primeval frost giant of Norse* mythology, Ymir was formed at the beginning of creation from rivers of ice that flowed from Niflheim, the land of mist, into Ginnungagap, the yawning emptiness. Ymir emerged from the ice as it melted from the heat of Muspelheim, the fire kingdom that lay near these two regions.

As the evil Ymir slept, other frost giants formed from the sweat of his body. The first male and female emerged from his left armpit, and another man came from his legs. Ymir drank milk from a primeval cow, which in turn licked blocks of ice and released a man called Buri. Buri's grandsons were the gods Odin*, Vili, and Ve. These three gods eventually attacked Ymir while he slept and killed him. As Ymir's blood gushed from his body, it caused a flood that drowned all the frost giants except Bergelmir and his wife. They escaped in a ship and founded a new race of beings.

primeval from the earliest times

Odin and his brothers used Ymir's body to form the world. They took his flesh to make earth; his bones became mountains; his teeth turned into stones and boulders; and his hair became trees and vegetation. The gods made the sky from Ymir's skull, and they threw his brains into the air to form clouds. Dwarfs emerged out of hills and rocks, and they helped to hold up the sky. Finally, Odin and his brothers used Ymir's eyebrows to make a great wall to surround and protect Midgard, the world of humans.

See also Creation Stories ; Dwarfs and Elves ; Floods ; Giants ; Norse Mythology ; Odin.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ymir." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ymir." Myths and Legends of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ymir

"Ymir." Myths and Legends of the World. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ymir

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ymir

Ymir (ē´mĕr), in Norse mythology, primeval giant and progenitor of a race of giants. Odin and his brothers slew Ymir; from his skull they fashioned the sky, from his flesh the earth, from his bones the mountains, and from his blood the sea.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ymir." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ymir." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ymir

"Ymir." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ymir

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ymir

Ymir in Scandinavian mythology, the primeval giant killed by Odin and the other gods, from whose body they created the world; his blood formed the seas, and his bones the rocks.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ymir." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ymir." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ymir

"Ymir." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ymir

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ymir

Ymir •Grasmere • cashmere •Emyr, premier •macadamia, Mesopotamia •academia, anaemia (US anemia), Bohemia, Euphemia, hypoglycaemia, leukaemia (US leukemia), septicaemia (US septicemia), uraemia •bulimia, Ymir •arrhythmia • Vladimir • encomia •costumier • Windermere •Hermia, hyperthermia, hypothermia

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ymir." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ymir." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ymir-0

"Ymir." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ymir-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Ymir

Ymir

Nationality/Culture

Norse

Pronunciation

EE-mir

Alternate Names

Aurgelmir

Appears In

The Eddas

Lineage

Born of ice and fire

Character Overview

An ancient frost giant of Norse mythology , Ymir was formed at the beginning of creation from rivers of ice that flowed from Niflheim (pronounced NIV-uhl-heym), the land of mist, into Ginnungagap (pronounced GIN-oon-gah-GAHP), the yawning emptiness. Ymir emerged from the ice as it melted from the heat of the fire kingdom that lay near these two regions.

As the evil Ymir slept, other frost giants formed from the sweat of his body. The first male and female emerged from his left armpit, and another man came from his legs. Ymir drank milk from an ancient cow, which in turn licked blocks of ice and released a man called Buri. Buri's grandsons were the gods Odin (pronounced OH-din), Vili (pronounced VEE-lee), and Ve (pronounced VEH). These three gods eventually attacked Ymir while he slept and killed him. As Ymir's blood gushed from his body, it caused a flood that drowned all the frost giants except Bergelmir (pronounced BEHR-gel-meer) and his wife. They escaped in a ship and founded a new race of beings.

Odin and his brothers used Ymir's body to form the world. They took his flesh to make earth; his bones became mountains; his teeth turned into stones and boulders; and his hair became trees and vegetation. The gods made the sky from Ymir's skull and threw his brains into the air to form clouds. Dwarves emerged out of hills and rocks and helped to hold up the sky. Finally, Odin and his brothers used Ymir's eyebrows to make a great wall to surround and protect Midgard, the world of humans.

Ymir in Context

The myth of Ymir is a Nordic example of the centrality of sacrifice — often violent—in many creation myths throughout the world. According to the Norse myth, all life arose from the violent sacrifice of Ymir. Other Norse gods also bore the scars of violent sacrifices they endured for the good of the larger community: Odin sacrificed an eye in order to gain knowledge of the future and the pain humans would have to endure; and Tyr sacrificed his hand in order to secure the giant wolf Fenrir.

Key Themes and Symbols

One of the most important themes in the myth of Ymir is the idea of creation through death. It is only when Ymir is killed by Odin and his brothers that the world as humans know it is created. Ymir's blood drowns the old giants, while his hair becomes the vegetation of the land. This also suggests the cycle of death and rebirth that is seen throughout nature every year, but on a much grander scale. Frost is used to symbolize barrenness and hostility, just like the hostile winters the Norse people faced.

Ymir in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Though his body was used to create the world, Ymir is not one of the more popular figures from Norse mythology. In modern times, Ymir is used as the inspiration for a character of the same name in the Marvel Comics Universe; the Marvel version of Ymir is a giant made completely of ice who seeks to destroy all other forms of life on Earth. This character also appeared in the 2006 video game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. The giant's name was used for one of the planet Saturn's many moons. Ymir was also used as the name of the alien monster in the classic science fiction film 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), though he did not resemble the Norse frost giant.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

The idea of all life originating from a primordial sacrifice is found throughout the world. Using your library, the Internet, or other available resources, research origin myths from different continents that have sacrifice as an important element of world creation. Do these myths have anything in common? Do the cultures they come from have anything in common? Why do you think sacrifice is such an important element in creation myths?

SEE ALSO Creation Stories; Dwarfs and Elves; Floods; Giants; Norse Mythology; Odin

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ymir." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ymir." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ymir

"Ymir." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Retrieved October 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ymir

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.