Brown & Dun

Words for brown, dun and related things in Celtic languages.


Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *dusnos = dark brown
Old Irish (Goídelc) donn [don͈] = brown, tawny, dun; hazel (eyes), chestnut (animals)
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) donn = dun, brown
donnaid = to make brown or red
Irish (Gaeilge) donn [d̪ˠɔn̪ˠ / d̪ˠuːn̪ˠ / d̪ˠəun̪ˠ] = brown, brown-haired, hard brown timber
donnaigh = brown, tan, rust
donnbhuí = yellowish brown, fallow, biscuit(-coloured)
donnchiabhach = brown-haired
donndearg = reddish brown
donnfhionn = light brown
donnroscach = brown-eyed
donnrua = chestnut (colour), russet (cloth), bay (horse)
strong>donnúchán = browning
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) donn [dɔun̪ˠ ~ dɯn̪ʲə] = brown, brown-haired, brunette
donn-gheal = light brown, slightly tanned
donn-ruadh = bay, chestnut (coloured)
donn-uaine = olive(-brown)
donnachadh [dɔ̪nˠəxəɣ] = browning, making brown, tanning
Manx (Gaelg) dhoan, dhone, doan = brown, brown-haired, hazel, swarthy, dark-skinned
dhoanaghey = brown, tan
doan ruy = sepia
dhone-ruy = bay (colour)
dhoan-ruy = chestnut
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) dwnn, dwn = dun, dark red, brown
Welsh (Cymraeg) dwn = dun, dark red, brown; swarthy, dark

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *dʰews-/*dʰewh₂- (smoke, mist, haze) [source]. Words from the same root possibly include dew, dun, dusk, dust and fume in English [source].

Proto-Celtic *gelos = shining, white
Gaulish *gelā
Old Irish (Goídelc) gel = bright, clear, white
gile = brightness, whiteness
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) gel, geal = fair, white, bright, shining
gelach = moon
gelaid = to make white, bleach, make fair
gelaigid = to brighten, give light to
gelán = brightness, a flash, whiteness
gelcaid = to whiten
geldae = fair, bright
Irish (Gaeilge) geal [ɟalˠ] = white, bright, pure, glad, happy, dear, beloved, fond
gealach [ɟəˈl̪ˠɑx] = moon
gealacán = white (of egg/eye)
gealachán = bleaching, clothes hung out to dry
gealacht = brightening
gealadh = dawning, dawn, bleaching, greying, lightening of colour, gladness, fondness
gealán = gleam, flash, bright spell
gealánach = gleaming, flashing, bright
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) geal [gʲal̪ˠ] = white, fine
gealach [gʲal̪ˠəx] = moon
gealachd [gʲal̪ˠəxg] = whiteness
gealadh [gʲal̪ˠag] = blight, whitening, fade-in
gealaich [gʲal̪ɪç] = blanch, bleach, whiten
gealaichte [gʲal̪ɪçdʲə] = blanched, bleached, whitened
Manx (Gaelg) gial = bright, clear, white, shining, snowy, light-coloured, fulgent
giallagh = moon
gialan = egg white
giallaghey = to blanch, bleach, brighten, whiten
gillid = brightness, clearness, light, lustre
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) gell = bay, brown, auburn
Welsh (Cymraeg) gell = bay, brown, auburn, orange, yellow, tawny-coloured
Cornish (Kernewek) gell [gɛl:] = (light) brown
gellburpur = puce
gellrudh = auburn, russet brown
gellvelyn = tawny brown
Middle Breton (Brezonec) guel(l) = bay, fawn, red
Breton (Brezhoneg) gell [ˈɡɛlː] = bay, brown, ripe, exhausted
gellaat [ɡɛˈlɑːt] = to make or become brown
gellan, gellañ = = to brown, ripen
gelleg = bay colour

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰelh₂os, from *ǵʰelh₂- (to shine) [source]. English words from the same PIE roots include arsenic, gall, gild, gild, gold and yellow [source].

Proto-Celtic *gurmos = dun, dark, blue
Old Irish (Goídelc) gorm = blue, dark, green
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) gorm = (deep) blue, green, dark, swarthy, black
Irish (Gaeilge) gorm [ˈɡɔɾˠəmˠ] = blue, dyeing-blue; azure, dark-blue; livid, purple
goirme = blueness
gormaigh, gormú = to colour blue, become blue
gormchló = blue-print
gormghlas = blue-green, sea-green, aquamarine
gormroscach, gormshúileach = blue-eyed
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) gorm [gɔrɔm] = blue; green, verdant; green, inexperienced, wet (behind the ears)
gorm-ghlas = azure, cerulean, dapple grey (horse)
gorm_shùileach = blue-eyed (person)
gorm-uaine = blue-green
gormachadh [gɔrɔməxəɣ] = making blue or grey
gormailean = blue-eyed person, highly naive person
muc-ghorm = blue whale
Manx (Gaelg) gorrym = blue, black, dark-skinned
gormaghey = blue, cyanosis
gorrymaghey = blue
gorrym dorraghey = dark blue
bane-ghorrym = light blue
doo-ghorrym = navy blue
Proto-Brythonic *gurm = dun, dark, blue
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) gurum, gurim, gwrym, gurem = brown, dark-brown
gwrymde, gurym de = dark-blue, greyish-blue, swarthy, wearing mourning
gwrymseirch, gwrmseirch, gurumseirch = dark-blue armour or harness, horse-trappings, traces
Welsh (Cymraeg) gwrm, gwrwm = brown, dark-brown, reddish, greyish-brown, dark-grey, dark, dusky, black, dark-blue, blue
gwr(w)mder = blackness, duskiness, murkiness, mist
gwr(w)mdde = dark-blue, greyish-blue, swarthy, wearing mourning
gwr(w)mddu = dusky, blackish, black garment
gwr(w)mseirch, gwrymseirch = dark-blue armour or harness, horse-trappings, traces
Cornish (Kernewek) gorm [gɔrm] = (dark/dull) brown
Old Breton uurm-haelon = with dark brows

Etymology: uncertain – possibly from a non-Indo-European substrate [source]

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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, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, English – ProtoCeltic WordList (PDF), Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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