Fists, Palms, Hands & Arms

Words for fist, palm, hand, arm and related things in Celtic languages.


Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *ɸlāmā = palm, hand
Old Irish (Goídelc) lám [l͈aːṽ] = hand, arm, prowess, accomplishment, power
Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) lám = hand, arm, prowess, accomplishment, power
lámann, lámand, lámínd = glove, gauntlet, sleeve
lámannán, lamannan = bladder
Irish (Gaeilge) lámh [l̪ˠɑːvˠ / l̪ˠæːw] = hand, arm, handle, signature, measure (of horses)
lámhach = skill in handling, in casting, dexterity
lámhadóir = handler
lámhainn = glove
lámhainneoir = glove-maker
lámhainneoireacht = glove-making
lámhaíocht = helping hand, subscription
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) làmh [l̪ˠaːv] = hand, arm, handle
làmhainn [l̪ˠaːvɪn̪ʲ] = glove, mitten, gauntlet
làmhchaireach = handy
làmhcharach = dexterous, handy
làmhchran, làmhrachan = handle
làmhnan = handyman
làmhadh = pawing, handling, groping
Manx (Gaelg) laue [læu] = hand, handful, foreleg, grasp (of oar), arm
lauee = dexterous, handy, useful, versatile, manual
lauean = glove
laueys = alacrity, elbow grease, skilfulness, industy
Proto-Brythonic *lọβ̃ [ˈlɔːβ̃] = palm, hand
Old Welsh lau = hand
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) lav, law, llav, llaw = hand
llaw agor, llawegor, llaw egor = generous, bountiful
Welsh (Cymraeg) llaw [ɬaːu̯ / ɬau̯] = hand; authority, control, rule, management, power; ownership, possession; influence; agency, instrumentality, part; guardianship, keeping, custody, care, protection; side, direction, position; skill, touch
llawagor, llawegor = generous, bountiful, liberal, open-handed, creeping thistle, water-pepper
llawaid = handful
llawan = little hand
Old Cornish lof = hand
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) lau, lef, lof, luef = hand
lofgurchel = utensil
Cornish (Kernewek) leuv [lœ:v / le:v] = hand
leuvdosa = to massage
leuvdosans = massage
leuvherdhya = to hand-off
leuvvedhegel = surgical
leuvvedhek, leuvvedhoges = surgeon
leuvwelen = baton
Old Breton lom = hand
Middle Breton (Brezonec) lau = hand
Breton (Brezhoneg) lav [lav] = feathered hand

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *pl̥h₂meh₂ (palm, hand). The Faroese word lámur (flipper, paw, left hand) comes from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Old Norse lámr (hand, arm) [source].

Proto-Celtic *bostā = palm, fist
Gaulish *bostyā = palm, fist
Old Irish (Goídelc) bos / bas = palm
Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) bas, bos, bass = palm of the hand
basach = having hoofs or claws
baslach = handful
Irish (Gaeilge) bos = palm (of hand); handful; slap; flat end, blade
bosach = bladed, flat-footed
bosachán = flat-footed person
bosaíl = patting, flat-footedness
boslach = handful
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) bas [bas] = palm (of hand), lower end of a shinty stick, eye (of a fishing hook)
bas-bhualadh = clapping of hands, applause
baslachadh= clapping, cupping (in one’s hands)
basgar = applause, skirl (in music)
baslach = handful, palmful, baptism
Manx (Gaelg) bass = palm, flat of hand, blade of oar, scale pan, bass
bassag = backhander, clap, clout, pat, slap, smack
bassey = applause, clap, clapping
basslagh = double handful, enough to cover palm, palmful
Proto-Brythonic *bos [ˈbos] = hand
Old Welsh bos = palm
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) bos = palm
Welsh (Cymraeg) bos = palm (of the hand), unit of length
Middle Breton (Brezonec) boz = hollow of the hand
Breton (Brezhoneg) boz [ˈboːs] = hollow of the hand

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Etymology: possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *gʷésdos (branch) [source]. The Middle Latin word bostia (small box, reliquaire was borrowed from the Gaulish *bostyā, and became bostellus (bushel), the root of the French word boisseau (bushel, hollow cylinder), and the English word bushel [source].

Old Irish (Goídelc) rig [r͈ʲiɣ] = forearm
Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) rig = forearm from wrist to elbow
Irish (Gaeilge) [ɾˠiː] = forearm
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) ruighe [r̪ˠujə] = plain, flat ground, (at base of a mountain), shieling area, forearm
ruigheadh = laying out a body, shrouding, stretching out
ruigheachas = tussle, armwrestling
ruigheachdail = accessible
Manx (Gaelg) roih = arm, forearm

Etymology: possibly from the Old Irish *reg (to stretch) [source].

Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) brac, brach = arm, hand
bracann, bracand = sleeve
braccaille = glove
Irish (Gaeilge) brac = arm (literary), bracket
bracach = brachial
bracaíl = brachiation
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) brac [braxg] = arm, curve (of a breaking wave), branch (of antlers), deer (poetic)
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) ureich, ureych, braich = arm
Welsh (Cymraeg) braich [brai̯χ] = arm, care, assistance, support, power, might, strength, forelimb of animal, wing, headland, creek
braich olwyn = spoke (of wheel)
braich o’r môr, braich o fôr = arm of the sea, inlet
braich ym mraich = arm-in-arm
Old Cornish bregh = arm
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) brech, brêch, breh = arm
brechol = sleeve
Cornish (Kernewek) bregh [brɛ:x /bre:ʰ] = arm
breghel = sleeve
breghellik = bracelet
Middle Breton (Brezonec) brech, breach, bræch = hand, paw
Breton (Brezhoneg) brec’h = hand
brec’had = handful
brec’hata = to grasp round the waist, embrace

Etymology: from Latin bracchium (hand). Words from the same Latin root include brachium (upper arm) in English, bras (arm) in French, brazo (arm, branch, (tree) limb) in Spanish, and braccio (arm) in Italian [source].

Proto-Celtic *durnos = fist
Old Irish (Goídelc) dorn = fist
Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) dorn, dornn, dord = hand, fist, possession, handle
dornach = generous-handed
dornán = fistful, handful, sheaf
dornasc = bracelet
dornóc = glove, mitten
Irish (Gaeilge) dorn [d̪ˠoːɾˠn̪ˠ] = fist; punch; fistful, small quantity; handle, grip
dornáil = boxing
dornálaí = boxer
dornán = fistful, handful, small quantity or number, small handle, grip
dornóg = mitten
dornúil = pugilistic
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) dòrn [dɔːr̪ˠn̪ˠ] = fist; punch, hilt, handle
dòrnach = fistful, boxer, pugilist
dòrnadaireachd = boxing, pugilism
dòrnan = small fist, handful, grip,
dòrnag = fist-sized pebble/stone, oar handle, gauntlet
dòrnair = boxer, pugilist
dòrnlach = handful, batch
Manx (Gaelg) doarn = fist, pad, sword handle, grip
doarnane = haft, hilt, spoke, handle, hand grip, fistful
doarney = box, boxing, buffet
doarneyr = boxer
doarneyrys = boxing (match), fighting
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) durn, dwrn,, dyrn = fist, hand, paw, hilt, handle
Welsh (Cymraeg) dwrn = fist, hand, paw, hilt, handle, haft, pommel, knob
dwrn caead = clenched fist
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) dorn = fist, hand, handle, hilt
Cornish (Kernewek) dorn [dɔrn] = fist, hand, handle
dorna = to bash, beat, punch, strike, thrash
dornas = fistful, handful
dornbel = handball
dornel = manual
dornlyver, dornlever = handbook
dornskrif = manuscript
dornweyth = handicraft
Middle Breton (Brezonec) dornn, dorn, dourn = hand
dornat, dournat, dournad = handle, handful
dornaff, dournaff = to beat, hit
dornec = large-handed
Breton (Brezhoneg) dorn [ˈdɔʁn] = hand, fist
dornad = handle, handful
dornañ = to beat, hit
dornek = large-handed

Etymology: probably loaned from a non-Indo-European substrate language [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, 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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