Word of the day – cawl

Today’s word, cawl /kaul/, is a Welsh word meaning soup, broth, gruel or a mess.

Cawl is also a traditional Welsh stew made with meat and vegetables. It’s the kind of dish that’s made from whatever is available so the exact ingredients vary, but it often includes lamb and leeks, and is often served with bread and cheese. There a recipe for cawl and more information here.

The word cawl probably comes from the Latin caulis, which means the stalk of a plant, a cabbage stalk or a cabbage. It is related to the Irish cál, the Scottish Gaelic càl, the Cornish caul, the Breton kaol, the German Kohl, the English cole, as in coleslaw, and the Scots kail, all of which mean cabbage. The Welsh word for cabbage is completely different – bresychen.

The Proto-Indo-European root of caulis is *kaw(ǝ)l, which means tubular bone or pipe.

This entry was posted in Breton, Cornish, English, Etymology, German, Irish, Language, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Words and phrases.

6 Responses to Word of the day – cawl

  1. Dennis King says:

    I guess “bresychen” is cognate with Irish “praiseach = pottage, mess”, both borrowed from Latin “brassica”.

  2. Petréa Mitchell says:

    Would this also be related to kale, which is a type of cabbage (at least in US usage)?

  3. Lau says:

    And would it be related to the word cauldron?

  4. Christopher Miller says:


    c.1300, caudron, from Anglo-Fr. caudrun, O.N.Fr. cauderon (O.Fr. chauderon; cf. Sp. calderon, It. calderone), from augmentative of L.L. caldaria “cooking pot,” from L. calidarium “hot bath,” from calidus “warm, hot” (see calorie). The -l- was inserted 15c. in imitation of Latin.”

    You see another word derived from “caldaria” in “caldera”, a volcanic crater.

  5. Do you know something about Dalmatian language.

    If you do , please contact me , becouse I am trying to revive it.

  6. Petréa Mitchell says:

    More on kale– it looks like this or sometimes this, and in my part of the world, is grown more as a decorative plant than as a food.

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