Towns and Tribes

Words for dwelling, settlement, town, tribe and related things in Celtic languages.


Proto-Celtic *trebā = dwelling
Gaulish Atrebates = name of a tribe
Old Irish (Goídelc) treb = house, farm; household; tribe
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) treb = house, farm; household; tribe
Irish (Gaeilge) treibh [ˈtʲɾʲɛv] = house, homestead, farmstead; household, family; tribe, race
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) treabh [tro] = farming village
treubh [treːv] = tribe
Proto-Brythonic *treβ [ˈtrɛːβ] = town, settlement
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) tref [ˈtrɛːβ] = town, settlement
trefad, trevad, treuad, treuat = dwelling(-place), habitation
trefan, treuan = small town or city, village, dwelling, abode, manor-house, fort
Welsh (Cymraeg) tre(f) [treː(v)] = town; town centre; dwelling(-place), habitation, residence, home; house (and surrounding land), homestead, farm, estate, cluster of houses; township; tribe
trefad = dwelling(-place), habitation, residence, home, region, domain
trefaf, trefu= to dwell, live, settle
trefan = small town or city, village, dwelling, abode, manor-house, fort
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) tre, trev = dwelling place, homestead, home, town
tregva, trigva = dwelling place, habitation
trevedic = one from a country village, a country man, rustic
Cornish (Kernewek) tre [trɛ:/tre:] = farmstead, home, town, village
trigva = abode, address, dwelling, resdidence
trigys = settled, to reside, live
Old Breton treff, treb = town, settlement
Middle Breton (Brezonec) tre, trev = town
Breton (Brezhoneg) trev = town
trevour = civil

Etymology: From the Proto-Indo-European *treb- (dwelling, settlement) [source].

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root (via Latin) possibly include trobo (beehive, skep) in Galician, and truébanu (beehive, barrel, basket) in Asturian [source].

This is also the root of the archaic English word thorp(e) (a group of houses standing together in the country; a hamlet; a village), which appears in place names such as Milnthorpe and Scunthorpe.

Related words in other languages include Dorf (hamlet, village, town) in German, torp (village) in Danish, torp (farm, cottage, croft) in Swedish, þorp (village, farm) in Icelandic, and trevë (country, region, village) in Albanian [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, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, Le dictionnaire diachronique du breton, Geriafurch, English – ProtoCeltic WordList (PDF), Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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