Croenlun

They were talking about tattoos this morning on Radio Cymru and one of the presenters used the word croenlun, which I hadn’t heard before but could understand from the meaning of its component words – croen (skin) and llun (picture, image). This word doesn’t appear in any of my Welsh dictionaries so I suspect it isn’t very common – the usual Welsh word for tattoo is tatŵ.

Mysterious symbol tattoo

Other Welsh words containing croen include croendenau (skin thin) – touchy sensitive; croendew (skin thick) and croengaled (skin hard) – thick-skinned, callous; and croeniach (skin healthy) – unhurt, unharmed.

The English word tattoo comes from one of the Polynesian languages – perhaps the Tahitian and Samoan tatau or the Marquesan tatu, which mean “puncture, mark made on skin”.

The image on the right was sent in by a visitor to Omniglot who would like to know if anybody recognises the symbol.

It looks like a tattoo and the symbol does look vaguely familiar to me, though I’m not sure where I’ve seen it before.

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This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Language, Puzzles, Welsh.

8 Responses to Croenlun

  1. Alicia says:

    Oh, I really like it how they used a Welsh word instead of the loan word :) A good way of keeping the language living and full of expression…

  2. stormboy says:

    “A good way of keeping the language living and full of expression…”

    I see what you mean, but isn’t English (for example) ‘living and full of expression’ despite (or because of?) the many loanwords that have been incorporated into the language? I appreciate, though, that it could be argued that English can ‘afford’ to do this because of its dominant status.

  3. Alicia says:

    “I appreciate, though, that it could be argued that English can ‘afford’ to do this because of its dominant status.”

    Indeed, English and Welsh have quite a different situation. I think using newly-made Welsh words can do a great job in demonstrating that Welsh is no less flexible and practical than English.

  4. Andrew says:

    The picture: A basketball hoop and backboard? A gallows?

  5. Macsen says:

    I quite like croenlun though it’s never used. I quite like tatŵ too, as it shows the capacity of Welsh orthography to adopt foreign words and concepts effortlessly. The good news is that Welsh speakers have a choice of two words which they can now use to describe what’s known as a ‘tattoo’.

    On the theme of ‘croen’, there’s a Welsh saying to describe someone who always looks miserable – ‘mae croen ei din ar ei dalcen’ – his arse’s skin is on his forehead.

  6. Yenlit says:

    Will we end up with a verb “croenlunio”?

  7. Macsen says:

    ‘croenlunio’ – done already!

  8. Adam Jones says:

    Dwi ‘di cwympo mewn cariad gyda’r dywediad Croenlun yn barod dyma’r tro cynta’ i mi glywed i gair yma a byddai’n ei ddefnyddio o hyn ymlaen,

    Croenlunio – Tatooing
    Croenlunydd – Tattoist
    Croenlunfa – Tatto salon
    Croenlunyddiaeth – Tattoism

    (i could go on and on, I’ve found a new word to play with hehe i love it.)