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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

Fish and other sea creatures

iasc iasg eeast pysgod pysk pesked fish
bradán bradan, eo*, iach* braddan eog, samwn eghek eog salmon
breac breac breck, brick brithyll brithel dluzh trout
eascann easgann astan llysywenod sylly silienn, kurzenn eel
gliomach giomach gimmagh cimwch legest legestr lobster
míol mór mial-mhór meeyl mooar morfil morvil morvil, balum whale
portán partan partan cranc kanker krank crab
rón ròn, morlo raun morlo, broch môr, moelrhon, rhôn* reunig, morleue, leue-mor seal
ronnach, murlas, maicréal breac-mhara, reannach, macrail breck (marrey) macrell brithel brezhell mackerel
scadán sgadan skeddan ysgadan hernenwyn harink herring
siorc siorc, cearban, gobag mhòr sharkagh morgi, siarc rinkin shark


  • * Words with an asterisk are archaic or obsolete
  • The Welsh cognate of breac (GE) is brych (spotted), and the Breton cognate is brec'h (spotted)


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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