Words for life and related things in Celtic languages

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *biwotūts = life
Old Irish (Goídelc) betha = life, lifetime, existence, sustenance
bethamnas = life, livelihood
ar·beir = to live
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) betha = life, to be alive; living, livelihood; food sustenance, property, estate
bethadach = animal, creature
bethaigid = to quicken, animate, feed, nourish, support
bethamain = nourishment
uisce beatha(d), uisge beatha = whiskey
Irish (Gaeilge) beatha [ˈbʲahə] = life, to be alive; living, livelihood; food sustenance, property, estate
beathachruth = life form
beathaigh = to feed, nourish, rear
beathaithe = fat, well-fed
beathú = feeding, nourishment, living, culture
beathúil = nourishing
uisce-beatha = whiskey
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) beatha [bɛhə] = life, existence; victuals, food; livelihood; welcome, salutation
beathach [bɛhəx] = animal, beast, head of cattle, brute
beathachadh [bɛhəxəɣ] = living, feeding, nourishing
beathachail [bɛhəxal] = nutritious, nutritional
beathachair [bɛhəxɛrʲ] = animator
beathadach [bɛhədəx] = animate
beathalachd [bɛhəl̪ˠəxg] = liveliness, vitality
uisge-beatha [ɯʃgʲəˈbɛhə] = whisky
Manx (Gaelg) bea = animation, life, lifespan, vital (statistics)
beaoil = moral, living
beaghee = nutritious, edible
beaghey = to feed, nourish, nurture, live, maintain; nourishment, foodstuffs, livelihood, nutrition, sustenance
ushtey bea = whiskey
Proto-Brythonic *bïwïd = life
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) byỽyt, bywyt, bowyt, bowyd= life, existence; liveliness; lifetime, living, livelihood, sustenance
Welsh (Cymraeg) bywyd [ˈbəu̯ɨ̞d/ˈbou̯ɪd] = life, existence; liveliness; lifetime, living, livelihood, sustenance; wealth, income; reward, gift
bywydaf, bywydu = to animate, quicken
bywydol = living, animate, lively, vital
bywydoldeb = life, animation, vitality
bywydus = full of life, lively, vigorous
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) bewnans, bewnas = life, existence
Cornish (Kernewek) bewnans [‘bɛʊnans] = life, living
Middle Breton (Brezonec) buez, buhez = life, to live
Breton (Brezhoneg) buhez [ˈbyːe(z)] = life
buhezegezh = vitality, morals, ethics
buhezek = vital, full of vitality

Etymology: from the Proto-Celtic *biwos (alive, living, mortal), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷih₃wós (alive, living). Words from the same roots include words for food in Celtic languages, biology, quick, vitality and zoo in English, vida (life) in Spanish, and vie (life) in French [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, Lexicon Cornu-britannicum: A Dictionary of the Ancient Celtic Language of Cornwall, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, Le dictionnaire diachronique du breton, Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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