Words for hill and related words in Celtic languages.

Cwm Idwal

Proto-Celtic *ardwos = high
Gaulish Arduenna = place name
Old Irish (Goídelc) ard [ar͈d] = high, height
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) ard, árd = high above ground, elevated, lofty, tall, noble, great, proud, arduous, high place, height
ardach = hilly
ardae, airde = height, high place, nobility, loudness
ardaid = to rise
ardaigid = to raise, magnify, exalt
ardán = pride, arrogance
ardri = high king
Irish (Gaeilge) ard [ɑːɾˠd̪ˠ/æːɾˠd̪ˠ] = height, hillock, top, high part, elevation, head, rise, ascent
ardaigh = to raise, elevate, ascend, carry
ardaitheoir = lift, elevator
na farraigí arda = the high seas
sála arda = high heels
Ard-Aifreann = High Mass
Ard-Aighne = Attorney-General
ardaingeal = archangel
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) àrd [aːr̪ˠd] = high, lofy, tall, great, loud, chief, eminent, superior, supreme
àrd-bheinn = pinnacle
Manx (Gaelg) ard [ø(r)d] = high, towering, tall, big, loud, height, high place, fell, incline
Proto-Brythonic *arð = high
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) ard, art = hill
Welsh (Cymraeg) ardd [arð/aːrð] = hill, highland, top, high, upland
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) ard = high, lofty
Cornish (Kernewek) ardh = height, high place
Breton (Brezhoneg) arz = high, elevated, lofty

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *h₃r̥dʰwós, from *h₃erdʰ- (to increase, grow, upright, high) [source], which is also the root of the Latin word arbor (tree) and words for tree in Romance languages [source].

Proto-Celtic *knokkos = protuberance, hill
Old Irish (Goídelc) cnocc [knok] = hill, lump, swelling
cnoccach [ˈknokax] = hilly, lumpy
cnocán [ˈknokaːn] = little lump, mound, hill
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) cnocc = lump, protruberance, hill, mound
cnoccach, cnocach = lumpy, hilly
cnoccán, cnocán = little lump, mound, hill
Irish (Gaeilge) cnoc [kn̪ˠɔk / kn̪ˠʊk/ kɾˠʊk] = hill, mount
cnocach = hilly
cnocadóir = hillman, hillclimber
cnocadóireacht = hill-climbing
cnocán = hillock, heap
cnocánach = hilly, uneven
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) cnoc [krɔ̃xg] = hill, small hill, hillock, knoll, chilblain
cnocach [krɔ̃xgəx] = hilly, rugged, abrupt
cnocaireachd [krɔ̃xgɛrʲəxg] = rough hill walking, pacing
cnocan [krɔ̃xgan] = hillock, ball of fibre
Manx (Gaelg) cronk = mount, tor, hill,
crongan = mound, small hill, tuffet, tumulus, hillock
cronkan = knoll, small hill, hillock
Proto-Brythonic *knox = hill, mound
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) cnwch = swelling, protuberance, thickness, hump
Welsh (Cymraeg) cnwc = hillock, knoll; swelling, tumour, lump, knob, hump
cnocell = hillock, knoll
Old Breton cnoch = hill
Middle Breton qnech, knech, crech, cre(a)c’h = high, height, mountain, hill
krec’hennek full of hills
krec’hiek = steep, sloping, incluned
Breton (Brezhoneg) krec’h = height, eminence, mound

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *kneg- (back of the head, nape, neck). The English word neck, and related words in other Germanic languages, come from the same root [source].

Proto-Celtic *brusnyos = hill
Old Irish (Goídelc) bruinne = breast(s), bosom, chest; womb
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) bruinne, bruinde = breast, bosom, chest
Irish (Gaeilge) broinne = breast, bosom; brink, verge
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) broinne [brɤin̪ʲ] = belly, stomach; womb; bulge
Manx (Gaelg) brein = womb
Proto-Brythonic *bronnā = breast
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) bronn, bron = breast, bosom
Welsh (Cymraeg) bron [brɔn] = breast, bosom, thorax, hill-side, slope, breast (of hill)
bronallt, broniallt = gentle slope of hill, rising ground, wooded slope
bryn = hill, mount, rise, bank; heap, mound; prominence, highness
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) bron = a round protuberance, breast, pap, slope of a hill
Cornish (Kernewek) bronn / brodn [brɔn: / brɔdn] = breast, hill
Middle Breton (Brezonec) bron, bronn = breast, bossom, udder
bronnañ, bronnat, bronniñ = to breast feed
Breton (Brezhoneg) bronn [ˈbrɔ̃n] = breast

Etymology: from Proto-Celtic *brusū (belly, abdomen, breast), possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰrews- (belly, to swell) [source].

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Proto-West-Germanic *brunnjā (chainmail shirt), include: brynja (coat of mail) in Icelandic, Swedish and Faroese, brynje (mail, armour) in Danish, brynje (coat of armour, protective clothing for motorcyclists) in Norwegian, and броня [brɔˈnʲa] (armour, armoured vehicle, shell) in Ukrainian [source].

The English words breast, brisket and bruise come from the same PIE root, as do borst (chest, thorax, breast) in Dutch, Brust (chest, breast, bosom) in German, and bröst (breast, chest, thorax) in Swedish [source].

Proto-Celtic *brixs / *brig- = hill
Gaulish *brignā, -brigā = hill
Old Irish (Goídelc) brí [bʲrʲiː] = hill
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) brí, bri = hill
Irish (Gaeilge) brí = brae, hill
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) bre = hill, headland
Proto-Brythonic *breɣ [ˈbrɛːɣ] = hill
Welsh (Cymraeg) bre = hill, hillock, mountain, hill-country, upland, peak
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) bre = mountain, hill
Cornish (Kernewek) bre [brɛ: / bre:] = hill – appears as Bray or Brae in placenames
Middle Breton (Brezonec) bre = hill
Breton (Brezhoneg) bre = hill, mountain

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰerǵʰ- (high) [source].

The Spanish word breña (scrub, brush, rough ground), the Portuguese word brenha (scrub, complication, confusion) come from the Gaulish *brignā, via the Vulgar Latin *brigna (rocky terrain) [source].

From the same PIE root we get the English words burrow and borough, and words in placenames such as burg, burgh and bury, and also the German Burg (castle), the Danish borg (castle, stronghold), and related words in other Germanic languages.

Proto-Celtic *krowko- = heap
Old Irish (Goídelc) crúach = stack, mountain, hill
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) crúach,cruach = stack of corn, rick, heap, conical pile
crúachad = act of stacking, piling up
crúachán = small rick, hill
crúachda = swollen, piled up
Irish (Gaeilge) cruach [kɾˠuəx] = stack, rick, pile, (mountain) stack
cruachach = full of stacks
cruachadóir = stack-builder
cruachadóireacht = (act of) building stacks
cruachán = (small) stack; person of stunned growth
cruachóg = heap
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) cruach [kruəx] = pile, stack; round hill; clamp (stack)
cho seasgair ri luchag ann an cruach = as snug as a bug in a rug (“as snug as a mouse in a haystack”)
cruach-fheòir = haystack
cruach-mhòna, cruach mònach = peat-stack
cruach-sheangan = anthill
Manx (Gaelg) creagh = stack, furrow
creagh fendeilagh = barricade
creagh hraagh = haystack
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) krug, gruc, grvg = hillock
Welsh (Cymraeg) crug = hillock, knoll, cairn, tumulus, heap, mass, stack, group, company, multitude; pustule, abscess, boil, carbuncle
Old Cornish cruc = hillock
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) cruc, cruk, crŷc = hillock, mound, barrow
Cornish (Kernewek) krug = mound, tumulus
Old Breton cruc = hillock
Middle Breton (Brezonec) krug = pile, heap
krugell = pile, heap, hillock, mound, tumulus
Breton (Brezhoneg) krug = mound
krugell = hillock, tumulus

Etymology: possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *krā(u)- (to heap up) [source].

Proto-Celtic *tumbo- = excrescence hill
Old Irish (Goídelc) tom = bush, tuft, hillock, knoll
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) tom = bush, tuft, hillock, knoll
Irish (Gaeilge) tom [t̪ˠɑumˠ/t̪ˠʌmˠ] = bush, shrub
tomach = bushy, tufted
tomachán = small tuft
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) tom [tɔum] = hillock, knoll, mound, clump, heap, tuft
toman [toman] = small hillock
tomag [tomag] = small hillock/knoll/mound, small clump, small heap
Manx (Gaelg) tom = tussock
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) tom, tomm = dung(hill), manure, compost, dirt, muck
Welsh (Cymraeg) tom = dung(hill), manure, compost, dirt, muck, mud, mound, heap

Etymology: possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *tewh₂- (to swell), and cognate with the English word tumulus.

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Sources: Wiktionary, Am Faclair Beag, Online Manx Dictionary, Teanglann.ie, 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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One thought on “Hills

  1. “Leitir” still means hillside in Ireland which I guess comes from *lettrek-

    “Meall” means “dome”, of any size from eyeball to hill. Hall the hills in Scotland are Meall something-or-other. I guess this is derived from *mello

    “Rinn” means a point in Irish, eg of a sword, but also appears in place names where you have pointed headlands, eg the coastal town of Ring (An Rinn) in Ireland. I imagine this is related to *roino

    As for *tumbo, I wonder if this has anything to do with all the Tom place names in Scotland. In Irish tom is a tuft, thicket or clump of eg bushes, but it in Middle Irish it meaning still present in Scots Gallic of knoll or hillock

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