Words for narrow and related things in Celtic languages.


Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *koilos = thin
Old Irish (Goídelc) cáel, cóel = thin, slender, narrow, fine, delicate, strait
cáelán = intestine
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) cáel, cóel, cóil = thin slender, narrow, fine, nice, delicate, subtle, exact
cáelán, caolan = intestine, gut
cáelas = narrows, strait
Irish (Gaeilge) caol [keːl̪ˠ / kiːlˠ] = thin, slender; fine; narrow; shrill; slender; palatalized; weak, dilute; slight; subtle
caolach =osiers, twigs, wicker-/wattle-work
caoladán = thin person, thing
caoladóir = wicker-worker, basker-maker
caolaigh = to become thin, narrow, reduce, dilute
caolán = creek, small intestine, catgut
caolas = strait, narrows, narrow place, bottleneck
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) caol [kɯːl̪ˠ] = narrow, slender; slim, thin, lean, skinny; lanky
caolan = colon, intestine, entrail(s), gut(s)
caolanach = colonic, intestinal
caolraid = alley, vennel, wynd
caolaich = make slender, slenderise
caolachadh = (act of) narrowing, slenderisation
caolas = narrow(s), strait
caoladair = wickerworker
Manx (Gaelg) keyl [keːl] = thin, fine, attenuated, lanky, lean, slim, slight, willowy, gracile, tapered, slender, hairline, narrow, spare, small, drawn out, watery (soup), weak (solution)
keyllaghey = narrow (down), narrowing
keyley = narrowing, slenderize, thin
keylagh = to attenuate, attenuation, slenderize, thin, thinning
Proto-Brythonic *kʉl = narrow
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) cul, kul = narrow, lean
culaidd, culedd = narrowish, restricted
culhau, kulhau = to become narrow, shrink
Welsh (Cymraeg) cul [kɨːl / ˈkiːl] = narrow, lean, illibera,; bigoted, narrow-minded
culaidd = narrowish, restricted
culder, culdra = narrowness, leanness
culdir = isthmus, narrow strip of land
culfa = strait, narrow place, narrow passage
culhaf, culhau = to become narrow, shrink, lose fat
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) cul = narrow, strait
culurionein, kylyrion = the bowel
Cornish (Kernewek) kul [ky:l / ki:l] = narrow
kuldremenva = corridor
Breton (Brezhoneg) kul = narrow

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *koyHlo- or *skey- (to dissect, split) [source].

The word kyle, which appears in placenames such as Kyle of Lochalsh (Caol Loch Aillse) is an English version of the Scottish Gaelic caol [source].

Another word for narrow in Breton is strizh [ˈstriːs], which comes from the Latin strictus (tightened, compressed). The English words strict and strait come from the same root [source].

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Sources: Wiktionary, Am Faclair Beag, Online Manx Dictionary,, eDIL – Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language, In Dúil Bélrai English – Old Irish glossary, Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, Gerlyver Kernewek, Gerlyvyr Cernewec, Lexicon Cornu-britannicum: A Dictionary of the Ancient Celtic Language of Cornwall, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, Le dictionnaire diachronique du breton, Geriafurch, English – ProtoCeltic WordList (PDF), Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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