Twndis [‘tʊmdɪs] (nm, pl: twndisau) = funnel – also twnffat [‘tʊmfat]

I discovered the Welsh words twndis and twnffat last night. I’m not sure why the subject of funnels came up in conversation, but these words particularly appealed to me, especially the latter.

This morning I found out that the word tundish is used for funnel in Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and that it originally meant “a funnel made to fit into the bung of a tun”. A tun is a large cask, but I’m sure you knew that [source]. These days a tundish is sort of funnel used in metal casting, and also in plumbing [source].

Tundish appears to be related to the Welsh word twndis, and the word tun is possibly of Celtic origin: – from the Middle Irish tunna, and the Old Irish toun (hide, skin).

Words for funnel in the Modern Celtic languages come from the same root: as well as twndis in Welsh, there’s tunnadair (funnel, filler, tunning-dish, tunner) in Scottish Gaelic, tonnadóir in Irish, tunneyder in Manx and tum in Breton.

I’m not sure of the etymology of twmffat, but ffat on it’s own means slap or pat, and ffatio means to slap.

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

7 Responses to Twndis

  1. Dennis King says:

    The Old Irish word is “tonn”, not “toun”. That etymology is uncertain.

  2. Petréa Mitchell says:

    Is this related to twll “hole”? (Which I only know about because I learned a long time ago that twll ddu is the Welsh for “black hole”.)

  3. Yenlit says:

    ‘Twmffat’ is a more North Walian word while ‘twndish’ is Southern. ‘Twm’ may have something to do with the Western English dialect word ‘tump’ a mound, clump hence Welsh ‘twmpyn’ – mound, hillock or lump?

  4. Yenlit says:

    Petréa – black hole is ‘twll du’ twll is masculine so doesn’t mutate the adjective. Funnily cat-flap is ‘twll cath’ a rather prosaic ‘cat hole’!

  5. Petréa Mitchell says:

    Oh dear. I may have to inform someone that the name of the fanzine they used to publish is wrong.

    “Cat hole” sounds a little more accurate than what we call it here in the US– “cat door”.

  6. The Antipodean says:

    Perhaps it came up because you’d been reading the Inky Fool:

  7. Macsen says:

    ‘Twnffat’ is also a light-hearted way of calling someone stupid (‘cos, like the person’s brain, nothing stays in it). It was made popular on the Welsh language kids programme, ‘Teliffant’ with Syr Wynff ap Concord y Bos calling his small, fat side-kid, Plwmsan, a ‘twmffat’ for messing up some trick or other.

    Here’s Nia Williams’s memory of meeting the Teliffant crew when she was a child in the 1970s and how her son, Ioan, also enjoys seeing the programme and throwing ‘slepjans’ (custard tarts).

    Just found that there is a newish band called Twffat too:

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