wer·geld (wûrgĕld′) also wer·gild or were·gild (-gĭld′)
In Anglo-Saxon and Germanic law, a price set upon a person's life on the basis of rank and paid as compensation by the family of a slayer to the kindred or lord of a slain person to free the culprit of further punishment or obligation and to prevent a blood feud.
[Middle English wargeld, from Old English wergeld : wer, man; see wī-ro- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + geld, payment.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.