Words for ant and related things in Celtic languages.

Formica cf. rufibarbis

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Old Irish (Goídelc) sengán = ant
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) sengán, seangan = ant
Irish (Gaeilge) seangán = ant
seangánach = full of ants
nead seangán = anthill
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) seangan [ʃɛŋgan] = ant, mean fellow
seangan ‘nad bhriogais = to be fidgety, have the jtters (ants in your breeches)
seangananach [ʃɛŋganəx] = pertaining to or abounding in small ants
Manx (Gaelg) sniengan = ant
snienganagh = ant-infested, formic
crongan sniengan = anthill

Etymology: possibly from the Old Irish seng (thin, slender. meagre) [source].

Proto-Celtic *morwis = ant
Old Irish (Goídelc) moirb [morʲvʲ] = ant
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) moirb = ant
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) myr = ant
myrion = ants
morgrug, morcrug = ants
morgrugyn, morcrugyon = ant
Welsh (Cymraeg) mŷr, myrr [mɨːr/miːr] = ant
myrion = ants
myrdwyn = anthill
morgrug [ˈmɔrɡrɨ̞ɡ / ˈmɔrɡrɪɡ] = ants (from mŷr [ant] and crug [hill])
morgrugyn = ant
morgrugaidd, morgrugol = ant-like pertaining to ants, formic
Old Cornish menƿionen = ant
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) menwionen, meuwionen = ant, emmet
Cornish (Kernewek) moryonen = ant, tourists
moryoner = anteater
Old Breton moriuon = ant
Middle Breton (Brezonec) meryen = ant
Breton (Brezhoneg) merien [ˈmɛr.jɛn] = ants
merionenn = ant
merionaer = anteater
merieneg [mɛ.ˈrjẽː.nɛk] = anthill

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *morwi- (ant). Words from the same roots include formic (pertaining to ants) and pismire (ant – archaic) in English, fourmi (ant) in French, mier (ant) in Dutch, maur (ant) in Icelandic and myra (ant) in Swedish [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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2 thoughts on “Ants

  1. Hello! You’ve mixed the Welsh up: morgrugyn = ant; morgrug = ants.

    Also: mŷr = ant; myrionyn/myrionen = diminutive of mŷr; myrion = plural.

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