Words for sea, ocean and related things in Celtic languages.


Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *mori = sea
Primitive Irish *ᚋᚑᚏᚔᚅ (*morin) = sea
Old Irish (Goídelc) muir [murʲ] = sea
muirbolc = inlet
romuir = ocean, sea
Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) muir = the sea, ocean
Irish (Gaeilge) muir [mˠɪɾʲ] = sea
muirbhealach = sea route, seaway
muirbhrúcht = tidal wave, (sea) eruption, invasion (by sea)
muirí = marine, maritime
muireolaí = oceanographer
muireolaíicht = oceanography
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) muir [murʲ] = sea
muireil [murʲal] = maritime
muir-acainneach = seaworthy
muir-èolas = hydrography
muir-làn = high water/tide
muir-thìreach = amphibious
muir-tràghadh = low tide, low-water
Manx (Gaelg) mooir = sea
mooiroil = marine
mooiragh = dune, estuary, maritime, mariner
mooir-oaylleeaght = oceanography
mooir-lane = high tide
mooir-hraie = low tide
Proto-Brythonic *mor = sea
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) mor, myr, mŷr = sea, ocean
morad, mor-rad = produce of the sea
morawl = sea-inlet, estuary
morben = promontory, headland, cape, coast, sea-shore, isthmus
moravl, morawl = marine, maritime, naval
kefn[f]or, kefynvor = ocean, the main flood
Welsh (Cymraeg) môr [moːr] = sea, ocean, the deep; plenty, abundance, copiousness
morad = produce of the sea, revenue accruing from the sea, custom(s)
moraf, mori = to anchor (a boat)
morafl = sea-inlet, estuary
morben = promontory, headland, cape, coast, sea-shore, isthmus
morol = marine, maritime, naval
cefnfor = ocean, the main flood
Middle Cornish mor = sea
morec = of the sea, maritime
morhoch = porpoise
morlenol = tide, influx of the sea
mortrig = the ebb of the sea
morva = a place near the sea, marsh
morvil = whale
morvoren = mermaid
Cornish (Kernewek) mor = sea
mor bras, mor broas = ocean
mora = to put to sea
mordardha = to surf
mordrik = low tide
mordu = navy
morek = maritime
morvil = whale
morvoren = mermaid
Middle Breton mor = sea
mor-bras = ocean
Breton (Brezhoneg) mor [ˈmoːr] = sea, tide
mor-bras = ocean
morad = tide
moraer [mo’raɛr] = marine, navigator, boatman
morañ [ˈmoːrã] = to launch, to set afloat (a ship)
morlaer [ˈmorlaɛr] = pirate
morlu [ˈmorly] = fleet, navy
morour [ˈmoː.rur] = oceanologist
morvil [ˈmor.vil] = whale, cetacean

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European móri (sea, standing water), from *mer- (sea, lake, wetland), which is also the root for the English word mere, as in Windermere [source].

Old Irish (Goídelc) fairrge [ˈfar͈ɡʲe] = ocean, sea
Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) fairrge, fairge = the open sea, ocean, extent, expanse
Irish (Gaeilge) farraige [ˈfˠaɾˠɪɟɪ] = sea, billow, swell
farraigeach = seaman, seafarer
farraigeoireacht = (act of) seafaring
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) fairge [farʲagʲə] = sea, ocean, (sea) swell, turbulence of the ocean
Manx (Gaelg) faarkey [ˈføːɹkə] = sea, ocean, billow, breaker, large wave, swell

Etymology: possibly related to Old Irish fairsiung (ample, broad) [source].

Proto-Celtic *kawnos = port, haven
Old Irish (Goídelc) cúan [kuːa̯n] = ocean, sea
Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) cúan = bay, gulf, harbour
Irish (Gaeilge) cuan [kuən̪ˠ] = haven, harbour, bow, curve, bowed, stooped
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) cuan [kuən] = ocean, bay, inlet (archaic), haven (archaic)
cuan-eòlaiche = oceanographer
cuan-eòlas = oceanography
Manx (Gaelg) keayn [kiᵈn] = sea, ocean

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *kapno-, *keh₂p- (to grasp) [source].

Proto-Celtic *liros = sea, ocean
Old Irish (Goídelc) ler [ˈl͈ʲer] = ocean, sea
Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) ler, lera = sea, ocean
Irish (Gaeilge) lear [l̠ʲaɾˠ] = sea, ocean (literary/archaic)
thar lear = overseas, abroad, across/beyond the sea
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) lear [l̪ʲɛr] = sea, ocean (poetic)
thar lear = overseas (poetic)
Old Welsh (Kembraec) lirou = sea, ocean
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) llyr = sea, ocean
llyryed = to sail, voyage
Welsh (Cymraeg) llŷr = sea, ocean, watercourse, channel
llyriaf, llyrio = to sail, voyage

Etymology: either borrowed from an unknown substrate language or from Proto-Indo-European *leyH- [source].

Middle Welsh (Kymraec) gueilgi, gweilgi = sea, ocean, the deep; flood, torrent
Welsh (Cymraeg) gweilgi = sea, ocean, the deep; flood, torrent

Etymology: from Proto-Celtic *wailos (wolf, howler) and Welsh ci (dog), perhaps because the sound of the sea was likened to a wolf howling, or the sea was seen as like a wolf. It is cognate with the Irish faolchú (wild dog, wolf), and the Scottish Gaelic faol-chù (wolf) [source].

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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