Last night one of my friends was wondering about the meaning of the Welsh word bro, which appears in some Welsh placenames, such as Bro Morgannwg (the Vale of Glamorgan). So I thought I’d find out.
Bro /bro:/ is a Welsh word meaning “region, country, vale, lowland”. It is used mainly in place names, and appears in the expression bro a bryn (hill and dale), and in papurau bro (local Welsh language newspapers). It is also part of such words as brodir (region, country) and brodor (native), and in Y Fro Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Area) – the parts of Wales where Welsh is the majority language. It is a somewhat similar concept to the Gaeltachtaí in Ireland, though has no official recognition.
The same word exists in Cornish and Breton and has the same meaning. The Breton names for regions of Brittany all begin with Bro, for example Bro-Leon (Léon), Bro-Wened (Vannetais) and Bro-Gernev (Cornouauille), and England is Bro-Saoz (‘Land of the Saxons’), and Scotland is Bro-Skos or Skos in Breton.