Mjöl(l)nir or Mjollnir is the name of Thor's hammer.<ref name=Britannica>Mjollnir. (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.</ref> It was commonly worn as an amulet to ward off evil, by the ancient Norse.
Forged by the dwarves,<ref name=Britannica/> it was incredibly powerful, and had the ability to return to Thor's hand, like a boomerang.<ref name=Thor>Thor. (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.</ref> As an attribute of Thor, the thunder god, it appears to represent both the sound of thunder, and the subsequent lightning bolt.
Thor often used it as a weapon against the jotun, and on one occasion, recounted in the Thrymskvida (“Lay of Thrym”) found in the Poetic Edda, the giant Thrym stole it in return for the hand of Freyja. However, Thor tricked him by pretending to be Freyja, and gained the weapon back.<ref name=Britannica/>
It was also used for acts of consecration and hallowing, as well as the solemnising of marriages.<ref name=Britannica/> It appears by many runic inscriptions and funerary stelae,<ref name=Thor/> and was used for warding off evil.
Mjöllnir appears prominently in the cartoon strip and film, Thor.
The literal meaning of "Mjöllnir" appears to be "crusher" or "grinder", which would make it distantly related to the English word "mallet", and more distantly to "meal" (as in ground meal), "mill". It may also be distantly related to mellt, which is the Welsh word for lightning.
- Dumézil, Georges Gods of the Ancient Northmen (1973)
- Grimm, Jacob, Teutonic Mythology (1883–88, various reprintings)
- Lindow, John, Scandinavian Mythology: An Annotated Bibliography (1988)