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Celtic connections

The six Celtic languages currently spoken are divided into two branches: Goidelic or Gaelic, and Brythonic or British. The former branch consists of Irish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic, while the latter branch includes Welsh, Cornish and Breton. While there are many similarities between the languages in each branch, there are fewer similiarities between the two branches as they have had thousands of years to grow apart.

Differences in spelling and sound changes can disguise related words, but there are quite a few cognates that appear in most or all of the Celtic languages. In some cases the words in one language might be archaic or only used in place names, and more cognates can be found in earlier versions of the the languages. Some words are cognate within each branch of the Celtic languages, but not between the branches.

Words marked with an asterisk are archaic and/or used only in place names. The Cornish words shown are in Common Cornish (Kernewek Kemmyn). The Breton words are in Peurunvan/Modern Standard Spelling.

Sound changes

Cognates that appear in all or most of the Celtic languages

Adjectives | Pronouns | Verbs | People | Animals | Birds | Fish | Parts of the body | Colours | Numbers | Time expressions | Musical terms | Other words


éan eun eean, ushag edn*, aderyn edhen evn, labous bird
bran*, caróg badh-catha, starrag, bran* fannag brân bran bran louet crow
clamhán àrmhaigh shirragh bwncath bargos baou buzzard
(buteo buteo)
cnagaire cnag snoggeyder cnocell (y coed), caseg kasek speged woodpecker
coileach coileach kellagh ceiliog kulyek kilhog cockerel
colm, colmán, colúr calman calmane ysguthan, colomen kolomm dube pigeon
corr corr coar crëyr,
cherhit kerc'heiz
(grey) heron
druid druid trutlag drudwy, aderyn yr eira trosen tridig, brellidi, lapous du starling
(sturnus vulgaris)
eala eala olla(y) alarch alargh alarc'h swan
fáinleog gobhlan-gaoithe gollan geayee gwennol gwennel gwennel swallow
faoileán faoileag foillan gwylan goelann gouelaned seagull
fiach dubh fitheach feeagh cigfran, brân y gors bran vras marc'hvran raven
(corvus corax)
fuiseog uiseag fushag / ushag ehedydd awhesyth alc'hweder lark
gèadh guiy gwydd goedh gwaz goose
(anser / branta)
gealbhan gealbhonn sparroo, gialloon aderyn y to, golfan golvan golvan sparrow
(passer domesticus)
iolar iolair urley eryr er erer eagle
lacha tunnag, lach thunnag hwyaden hos houad duck
(anas / carina)
lon dubh, céirseach lòn-dubh lhondoo mwylachen, aderyn du molgh dhu moualc'h blackbird
(turdus merula)
scréachóg sgreuchag screeaghag sgrech y coed kegin kegin jay
(garrulus glandarius)
seabhac, fabhcún seabhag, faol-chon shawk, shirragh hebog hok falc'hun falcon
snag breac, meaig athaid pieanat pioden piasenn pig magpie
(pica pica)
spideog brù-dhearg, nighidh, pigidh, roban-roid spittag brongoch rudhek born-buzhug robin
(erithacus rubecula melophilus)
ulchabhán / cailleach oíche tulchabhchan / cailleach-oidhche hullad, caillagh oie tylluan / gwidhŵ kowann, oula toud, kaouenn owl


  • eean in Manx means chick, fowl, or young bird
  • * Words with an asterisk are archaic or obsolete


If you would like to make any corrections or additions to this page, or if you can provide recordings, please contact me.


Stòr-fhaclan Co-dhàimheil Ceilteach (Database of Celtic cognates)

McBain's Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language

MAGUS: Multilingual Animal Glossary of Unveiled Synonyms

Other pages about Celtic languages

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