Celtic words for (sea)gull, seabirds of the genus Larus or of the family Laridae.

Blackheaded gulls

Proto-Celtic *wailannā = seagull
Old Irish (Goídelc) faílenn, foílenn = seagull
Irish (Gaeilge) faoileán, faoileog = gull, seagull
faoileán bán = common gull (Larus canus)
faoileán ceanndubh, faoileán an chaipín = black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
faoileán droma duibh = greater black-backed gull (Larus marinus)
foillan scadán = (Larus argentatus)
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) faoileann [fɯːlən̪ˠ], faoileag [fɯːlag] = gull, seagull, common gull
faoileann-bheag = common gull
faoileann-dubh = black-headed gull
faoileann a’ chinn dhuibh = greater black-backed gull
faoileann-mhór = herring gull
Manx (Gaelg) foillan, foilleig, fooilleig = gull, seagull
foillan bane = common gull
foillan kione doo = black-headed gull
foillan saggyrt = greater black-backed gull
foillan skeddan = herring gull
Proto-Brythonic *gwuɨlann = seagull
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) gwylan = seagull
Welsh (Cymraeg) gwylan [ˈɡʊɨ̯lan / ˈɡʊi̯lan] = sea-gull, sea-mew; fair maiden; glutton
gwylan gyffredin = common gull
gwylan goes goch / gwylan benddu = black-headed gull
gwylan gefnddu = greater black-backed gull
gwylan y penwaig = herring gull
Old Cornish guilan = seagull
Cornish (Kernewek) golan [ˈɡoːlan / ˈɡʊlɐn] = gull, seagull
gwylan gemyn = common gull
skraw / skrawik / scraw = black-headed gull
gwylan keyn du = greater black-backed gull
gwylan hern = herring gull
Old Breton guilannou = seagull
Middle Breton goelann = seagull
Breton (Brezhoneg) gouelan = seagull
gouelan loue = common gull
gouelanig maskl du = black-headed gull
gouelan bras = greater black-backed gull
gouelan gris = herring gull

Etymology: thought to be from the Proto-Indo-European *wáy (oh! ah! woe! alas!), possibly related to *waylos (howler, wolf) [source].

The English word gull also comes from the same Proto-Celtic *wailannā, via the Middle English gulle [source].

The French word goéland (gull, herring gull) comes from the Breton gouelan [source].

Note: the types of gulls mentioned here are commonly seen in Celtic-speaking areas. Other gulls are available.

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Here’s a song I wrote in Manx and English about seagulls and their love of chips: Spollagyn son tey / Chips for tea

Sources: Wiktionary, Am Faclair Beag, MacBain’s Dictionary, In Dúil Bélrai English – Old-Irish Glossary,, On-Line Manx Dictionary, Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, Gerlyver Kernewek, Dictionnaire Favereau, TermOfis

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