Words for horse, stallion, mare, foal and related things in Celtic languages.

Ceffylau / Horses

Note: the commonly-used words for horse in each Celtic language are: capall in Irish, each in Scottish Gaelic, cabbyl in Manx, ceffyl in Welsh, margh in Cornish, and marc’h in Breton.

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *kaballos, *kapallos, *kappilos = horse
Gaulish *caballos = horse
Old Irish (Goídelc) capall [ˈkapal͈] = horse
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) capall, capail = horse
Irish (Gaeilge) capall ˈkapˠəl̪ˠ] = horse, mare
capallach = equine
capaillín = pony
capall maide = wooden, vaulting horse, hobby-horse
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) capall [kahbəl̪ˠ] = mare, colt, horse, small horse
capall-aibhne = hippopotamus
capall-coille = capercaillie
capall-mara = seahorse
capallach [kahbəl̪ˠəx] = pertaining to or abounding in mares/colts
capallan [kahbəl̪ˠan] = small horse, pony
Manx (Gaelg) cabbyl = horse, mount
cabbyl awin = hippopotamus
cabbyl assylagh = mule
Proto-Brythonic *kėfɨl = horse
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) keffyl, ceffyl = horse
keffylyn = little horse, nag, pony
cavall, cauall = horse, steed
Welsh (Cymraeg) ceffyl [ˈkɛfɨ̞l / ˈkɛfɪl] = horse, nag, hobby
ceffyl yr afon = hippopotamus
ceffylaf, ceffylu = to put on horseback, put one to ride the high horse, extol
ceffylaidd = pertaining to horses, equine, horsy
ceffylan = little horse, nag
ceffyles = mare
ceffylyn = little horse, nag, pony
cafall = horse, steed
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) cevil, kevil = horse
Old Breton (Brethonoc) cefel = horse

Etymology: uncertain – related to the Late Latin caballus (horse, nag) and Ancient Greek καβάλλης (kabállēs – nag) and maybe Persian کول (kaval – second class horse of mixed blood). Possibly ultimately from PIE *kebʰ- (worn-out horse, nag). Words from the same roots include cheval (horse) in French, cavalier in English and caballo (horse) in Spanish [source].

The Breton word kefeleg (woodcock) comes from the same Proto-Brythonic root, as does kevelek (woodcock) in Cornish and cyffylog (woodcock) in Welsh [source].

Proto-Celtic *markos = horse
Galatian *μάρκαν (márkan) = horse
Gaulish *markos = horse
Old Irish (Goídelc) marc [mark] = horse
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) marc = horse
Irish (Gaeilge) marc [mˠaɾˠk] = horse (literary / archaic)
marcach = horseman, rider, jockey; cavalryman, Cavalier
marcachas = horsemanship
marchaigh = to ride
marcaíocht = riding, horsemanship, ride drive lift
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) marc [marxk] = charger (warhorse – literary)
marc-shluagh = horsemen, riders, cavalry
marchach = equestrian, mounted; riding
Manx (Gaelg) mark = horse
mark-sleih = horseman
markiagh = to ride, riding, cavalier, equestrian, horseman, jockey, rider
markiaghey = riding
markiaght = drive, equitation, horsemanship, (horse) riding, lift, rider
Proto-Brythonic *marx = horse
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) march = horse
Welsh (Cymraeg) march [marχ] = horse, stallion, war-horse, steed
marchaidd = pertaining to a horse, horsy, horselike, equine
marchallu = horsepower
marchasyn = jackass, male donkey
marchdy = stable
marchfeddyg = horse doctor, farrier
marchfilwr = dragoon, cavalryman, cavalier, trooper
marchog = horseman, rider, jockey, mounted warrior, knight
Old Cornish march = horse
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) march = horse
Cornish (Kernewek) margh [ˈmaɾx] = horse
marghek = knight, rider
margh-leska = rocking horse
marghnerth = horsepower
marghogeth = to ride (a horse)
marghti = stable
Old Breton (Brethonoc) marh = horse
Middle Breton (Brezonec) march = horse
marcheg, marhec = horseman, rider, knight
marecat = to ride (a horse)
marheguez = to ride (a horse), to dominate
Breton (Brezhoneg) marc’h [marx] = horse, easel
marc’h-tan [marxˈtãː.n] = motorbike
marc’heg [ˈmar.ɣɛk] = horseman, rider, knight
marc’hegkaat [mar.ɣe.ˈkɑːt] = to ride (a horse)
marc’hegañ =
marc’hegezh [marˈɣeːɡɛs] = to ride (a horse), to dominate
marc’hegiezh = chivalry, cavalry

Etymology: thought to be from the Proto-Indo-European *márkos, which is also the root of the English words mare and marshal, the French word maréchal (marshal), and related words in other languages [source].

Proto-Celtic *ekʷos [ˈe.kʷos] = horse
Celtiberian ekua- = horse
Gaulish epos = horse
Primitive Irish *ᚓᚊᚐᚄ (*eqas) [exʷah] = horse
Old Irish (Goídelc) ech [ex] = horse
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) ech = horse
airech = packhorse
Irish (Gaeilge) each [ax] = horse, steed (archaic)
eachach = abounding in horses
eachaí = horseman, jockey, equine
eachaire = horse-attendant, groom
each-chumhacht = horse-power
eachmharcach = horseman
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) each [ɛx] = horse
each-aibhne = hippopotamus
each-coimhlinge = racehorse
eachach [ɛxəx] = pertaining to or abounding in horses, horsy
eachaire [ɛxɪrʲə] = equerry
eachan [ɛxan] = small horse, yarnwindle
eachlach [ɛxl̪ˠəx] = horse groom, jockey
Manx (Gaelg) agh [ax] = steed, riding horse
aghee = equine
aghlagh, aghragh = equestrian
eagh = horse, racehorse, riding horse, steed
eagh marrey = sea horse
eagh-veg = hobbyhorse
Early Brittonic *epālos = foal
Proto-Brythonic *eb [ɛːb] = horse
*ebọl [ɛˈbɔːl] = foal
Old Welsh eb = horse
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) ep, ebawl = colt, foal
ebawluarch, ebolfarch, ebawlfarch = colt, young horse
ebolyauc, eboliauc = in foal, capable of bearing a foal
Welsh (Cymraeg) ebol [ˈɛbɔl / ˈeːbɔl] = colt, foal, sucker
eboles [ɛˈbɔlɛs] = filly, foal
ebolaidd = coltish, frisky, playful, wanton
ebolfarch = colt, young horse
cyfeb = mare in foal
ebolig = coltish
eboliog = in foal, capable of bearing a foal
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) ebel = foal, colt
Cornish (Kernewek) ebel = horse
Old Breton (Brethonoc) ebol = horse
Middle Breton (Brezonec) ebeul = foal, filly
Breton (Brezhoneg) ebeul [ˈe.bøl] = foal
ebeulan, ebeuliañ = to foal
ebeulez = filly
keneb = mare in foal

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁éḱwos, which is also the root of the Latin word for horse, equus, and the English word equine, and related words in English and other languages [source]. The horse goddess, Epona, may be related as well.

Proto-Celtic *uɸorēdos = horse
Gaulish *werēdos = horse
Proto-Brythonic *gworuɨð = horse
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) goruytaur, goruit, gorwyd , gorŵydd = steed, horse
gorwyddfarch = (war-)horse, steed
Welsh (Cymraeg) gorwydd = steed, horse
gorwyddfarch = (war-)horse, steed

Etymology: from the Proto-Celtic *uɸo- (under) and *rēdo- (to ride; riding, chariot), from Proto-Indo-European *(H)reydʰ- (to ride). Words from the same Celtic roots include palfrey (a small horse with a smooth, ambling gait), Pferd (horse) in German, and vereda (path, lane) in Spanish [source].

Proto-Celtic *(φ?)lārek- = mare
Old Irish (Goídelc) láir = mare
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) láir, lair = mare
Irish (Gaeilge) láír [l̪ˠɑːɾʲ] = mare
An Láír Bhán = the Milky Way
láír bhán = hobby-horse
láíreog = little mare, young mare, filly, well-built girl, woman
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) làir [l̪ˠaːrʲ] = mare
Manx (Gaelg) laair = mare
laaireen = small mare

Etymology: possibly from PIE *pōlH- (animal young), which is also the root of pony and foal in English, pollo (chicken) in Spanish, and poule (hen) in French [source].

Proto-Celtic *kanxstikā = mare
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) cassec, kassec = mare
Welsh (Cymraeg) caseg [ˈkasɛg] = mare
Old Cornish casec, cassec, casac = mare
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) casek = mare
Cornish (Kernewek) kasek = mare
Middle Breton (Brezonec) casec, casecq = mare
Breton (Brezhoneg) kazeg [ˈkɑː.zek] = mare

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *ḱonḱ- (horse) [source]. Words from the same root possibly include henchman in English, hengst (stallion) in Dutch, and häst (horse, knight) in Swedish [source].

Proto-Celtic *stirrākos = small animal, chick
Old Irish (Goídelc) serrach = colt, faol
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) serrach = colt, faol
Irish (Gaeilge) searrach = colt, faol
searrachúil = foal-like, lively, flighty
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) searrach [ʃɛr̪ˠəx] = colt, faol, filly
searrachan [ʃɛr̪ˠəxan] = little foal
searrach-ruadh = buzzard
Manx (Gaelg) sharragh = faol
sharraghoil = faol-like

Etymology: from PIE *stirp- (progeny). Words from the same root possibly include estirpe (lingeage) in Spanish, and sterpo (dry twig or branch, brushwood) in Italian [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, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, English – ProtoCeltic WordList (PDF), Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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