What does Middle English “yreyn” mean?

Wycliffe's Bible



"Thei han broke eiren of snakis, and maden webbis of an yreyn; he that etith of the eiren of hem, schal die, and that that is nurschid, ether brouyt forth, schal breke out in to a cocatrice."

King James Bible:

"They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and weave the spider's web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper."


1 Answer 1


The OED lists yreyn as a spelling of arain, an obsolete word meaning spider.

  • Compare French "araignée"
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 18, 2021 at 15:29

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