Word of the day – Lloegr

The Welsh name for England is Lloegr (/ɬɔigr/). The etymology of this name is a mystery. According to this site, it first appeared as Lloegyr in an early 10th century prophetic poem called Armes Prydain. A variant of the name, Lloegrwys, or “men of Lloegr”, was in use before then and more common. In early poetry, the names used for the English included Eingl (Angles) and Iwys (Wessex-men) – they are called Saeson (Saxons) in modern Welsh. Some scholars believe that Lloegr originally referred to the kingdom of Mercia, and eventually came to mean the whole of England.

There’s a thread on this forum in which a number of possible etymologies of Lloegr are discussed. Here are some of them:

  • it comes from the Middle English name for England, Loegres
  • it comes from Legorencis Civitas, the Roman name for Leicester, which was probably derived from a local Celtic name
  • it means the “lost land(s)”
  • it’s named after Locrinus, the son of Brutus (from Geoffrey of Monmouth)
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This entry was posted in Language, Welsh, Words and phrases.

4 Responses to Word of the day – Lloegr

  1. Accroding to Kenneth Jackson owriting in the Bulletin of Celtic Studies (not sure or correct translation of Bwletin y Bwrdd Gwybodau Celtaidd) xxiii (1968-70)Lloegr couldn’t be related to Leicester etymologically because of the various linguistic changes affecting Welsh and A-S during the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages would have lead to different linguistic changes.

    So that’s number 2 out of the way, only 2 left! I read somewher that there could be a link with the province of Liguria in Italy but it looks a bit weak to me.

  2. Stuart says:

    Liguria…? Not heard of that one before, and it does seem a bit strange to me. I can’t see why England would be named after a coastal province of north-west Italy…

    And I was a little sceptical of the Leicester suggestion too. Had the Leicester town or area been of some major importance (economically, culturally, politically) in the past then I might have understood why the name would be applied to the whole territory, but as it has always only been a provincial town with little importance outside its immediate environs (no disrepect to the place or anyone from it!) then I just don’t buy it.

    The “lost lands” theory is the one I come across more often.

  3. I recently read an article on the resurgence of the Cornish language and the desire of some in Cornwall to emulate the educational emphasis on Welsh given in Wales. Wales also mandates government position holders to have Welsh speaking ability. With only 300 speakers, it looks like Cornish has a long way to go in emulating the Welsh!

  4. Ifan Morgan Jones says:

    I was given the ‘lost lands’ explanation as a kid too. Always made me imagine England as some kind of flat, empty mire. I was almost right – it’s flat, but covered in concrete. :P