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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

Other words

abhainn abhainn awin afon avon aven (stêr) river
agus agus as a/ac hag ha/hag and
ainm ainm ennym enw hanow anv name
anáil anail ennal anadl anal anal breath
anseo an-seo ayns shoh yma omma amañ here
ansin an-sin ayns shen yna ena aze there
ansiúd (thall ansin) an-siud ayns shid draw /
yn tre ahont yonder
aois aois eash oes, oed oes oad age
atha àth aae / aah rhyd rys red ford
baile baile balley tref
tre kêr town
beatha beatha beghey bywyd bywnans buhez life
bia biadh bee bwyd buit boued food
bith* (domhain) bith (domhain) (seihll, dowan) byd bys bed world
bórd, tábla bòrd boayrd bwrdd, bord bord bourzh, taol table
brí brìgh bree bri bry bri strength, energy, force
Cáisg Càisg Caisht Pasg Pask Pask Easter
cáis càise caashey caws keus keuz, formaj cheese
carraig carraig carrick carreg karrek karreg stone, rock
cloch sneachta
sniaghtey garroo cesair
keser grizilh
cill cill keeill cell kell (hermit's) cell, church
cistin cistin kishteen cegin kegin kegin kitchen
cliath cliath cleea clwyd kloes kloued hurdle
coll coll coull cyll koll kelvez hazel (tree)
cnó cnò cro cnau know kraoñ nut
cnoc cnoc cronk cnwc
knegh (torgenn) hill(ock)
dŵr dowr dour water
eaglais eaglais agglish eglwys eglos iliz church
fáilte fàilte failt (croeso) dynnargh donet mat welcome
fíor fìor feer gwir gwir gwir true
grian grian grian greian* (haul) howl heol sun
ím ìm eem (y)menyn amanyn amann butter
inbhear aber aber aber aber aber estuary
lann lann lann llan lann lan church, parish, building
leabhar leabhar lioar llyfr lyver levr book
léine léine lheiney crys krys krez shirt
lus lus lus llysiau les, losow louzaouen plant, herb
muir muir mooir môr mor mor sea
Nollaig Nollaig Nollick Nadolig Nadelik Nedeleg Christmas
olann olann ollan gwlân gwlan glaon wool
póg pòg paag poc* (cusan, sws) pok kiss
scamall /
baideal /
bodjal /
cwmwl /
kommol /
koumoulenn, nivlenn cloud, mist
seo seo shoh hwn, hon, hyn mañ this
sópa, gallúnach
siabhann sheeabin sebon sebon soavon soap
sin sin shen hwnnw, honno, hynny homma, honna se that
siúd siud shid draw /
ahont yon, that
sliabh sliabh slieau mynydd menydh menez mountain
spiorad spiorad spyrryd ysbryd speris speret spirit, ghost
sùgh soo, soolagh sudd, sug súgan soubenn juice, sap, soup
táille taille tailley tâl, talaith tal tailh fare, fee, tally
teach taigh thie chi ti house
teaghlach teaghlach lught thie
mooinjer thielagh
teulu teylu tiegezh family
teanga teanga çhengey iaith,
language /
uaimh uaimh oghe, ooig ogof fow /
gogo /
kav /
kavarn, groc'h, mougev, megin cave
úll ubhal ooyl afal aval aval apple


  • Words in brackets are the more common forms, or non-cognates
  • Sea is also farraige is Irish, fairge is Scottish Gaelic, and faarkey in Manx.
  • Man is also fear is Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and fer in Manx.
  • brí = strength, energy, force, significance, meaning (GE)
  • bourzh = deck/bridge (of a ship), taol = table (BR)
  • bugul = shepherd, bugel = child (BR)
  • lu = army (BR)


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

Other pages about Celtic languages

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