Fields, Meadows and Pastures

There are a number of words for fields in Celtic languages. Some appear only or mainly in placenames. Here’s a selection:

Roman Camp

Old Irish (Goídelc) achad = expanse of ground; pasture, field; field of battle
Irish (Gaeilge) achadh [d̪ˠuːnˠ] = field (archaic, used mainly in placenames)
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) achadh [axəɣ] = field, plain, meadow; cornfield newly cut or ready for reaping

Etymology: unknown

Proto-Celtic *gortos = fence, enclosure, pen
Old Irish (Goídelc) gort = field, orchard, crop
Irish (Gaeilge) gort [ɡɔɾˠt̪ˠ] = (cultivated) field, orchard, (standing) crop
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) gort [gɔrˠʃd] = standing corn; enclosure; small field
Proto-Brythonic *gorθ = field
Welsh (Cymraeg) garth = field, close, enclosure, fold, pen, yard; fort
Cornish (Kernewek) gorth = field
Old Breton orth = field
Breton (Brezhoneg) garz = field

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰortós (enclosure, hedge) [source], which is also the root of words yard and garden in English, via the Proto-Germanic *gardaz (enclosure, court, yard, garden) [source].

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Irish (Gaeilge) machaire = plain; stretch of level ground, links, course; field
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) machair [maxɪrʲ] = extensive low-lying fertile plain, level country; extensive beach; ow and level part of a farm
Manx (Gaelg) magher = field, fertile land, campaign, chase, machar, sphere

Etymology: unknown

Proto-Celtic *rowesyā- = (field, open ground)
Old Irish (Goídelc) róe [r͈oːi̯] = battle-field, level piece of ground, fight, battle
Irish (Gaeilge) [rˠeː] = stretch of ground, level ground, field
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) raon [rˠɯːn] = field, (piece of) ground; plain; zone, area; field (of expertise); ambit
Manx (Gaelg) rheam = gamut, range, field, monarchy
Old Breton runt = mound
Breton (Brezhoneg) run = mound, hill

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *Hrew(H)os (open space, field). The English words rustic and rural come from the same root, via Latin [source].

Proto-Celtic *kagyom = pen, enclosure
Gaulish cagiíun / *kagyom = enclosure
Old Irish (Goídelc) cai = field, orchard, crop
Proto-Brythonic *kaɨ = animal pen, enclosure, field
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) kay / kae = field, enclosure
Welsh (Cymraeg) cae [kaːɨ̯ / kai̯] = hedge, hedgerow, fence; field, enclosure; circle, sphere; barrier, obstruction
Cornish (Kernewek) ke = hedge, fence
Old Breton cai = hedge
Middle Breton quae = hedge
Breton (Brezhoneg) kae = hedge

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *kagʰyóm (enclosure, hedge) [source], which is also the root of word hedge in English, via the Proto-Germanic *hagjō (hedge) [source].

Proto-Celtic *magos = plain, field
Gaulish *magos = field
Old Irish (Goídelc) mag [maɣ] = plain, field
ármag, árbach, ármach = field of slaughter, battlefield
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) magh = plain
Irish (Gaeilge) [mˠɑː / mˠæː] = plain
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) magh [mɤɣ] = level country, plain
Magh Meala = Land of (Milk and) Honey (in mythology)
Magh Meall = elysium
magh na bàire = the plain of battle
Manx (Gaelg) magh = plain
Welsh (Cymraeg) maes [maːɨ̯s / mai̯s] = field, open country
Cornish (Kernewek) mes = open country
Old Breton maes = countryside, outside
Breton (Brezhoneg) maez = countryside, open field, outside, wide

Etymology: possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *meǵh- (great) [source].

Proto-Celtic *klowni = meadow
Old Irish (Goídelc) clúain = meadow
Irish (Gaeilge) cluain = meadow
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) cluain [kl̪uən̪ʲ] = green field, pasture, meadow
Old Welsh clun = meadow, moor
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) clun = meadow, moor
Welsh (Cymraeg) clun [klɨːn / kliːn] = meadow, moor; brake, brushwood

Etymology: possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *klopni (wet).

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

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