Words for fish in the Celtic languages.

Proto-Celtic *ɸēskos = fish
Old Irish (Goídelc) íasc = fish
Irish (Gaeilge) iasc [iəsˠk] = fish, to fish
iasc (uisce) abhann / locha [iəsˠk] = river / lake fish, freshwater fish
iasc farraige / iasc mara [iəsˠk] = sea-fish, saltwater fish
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) iasg [iəsg] = fish, Pisces
iasg fìor-uisge = freshwater fish
iasg mara = saltwater fish
Manx (Gaelg) eeast = fish
eeast awin = freshwater fish
eeast marrey = marine fish, sea fish
Proto-Brythonic *uɨsk = fish
Welsh (Cymraeg) Wysg [uːɨ̯sk / ʊi̯sk] = Usk (river)

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *pisḱ-/peysḱ- (fish). The name of the river Exe comes from the same root, as does Exmoor, where the river rises, Exmouth, where it meets the sea, and Exeter, which stands on the river.

Welsh (Cymraeg) pysgod [ˈpəsɡɔd] = fish(es), Pisces
pysgod aweddwr / pysgod dŵr croyw / pysgod dŵr glân [iəsˠk] = freshwater fish
pysgod (y) môr [iəsˠk] = sea fish, saltwater fish
Cornish (Kernewek) pysk [pɪːsk] / pesk = fish
Breton (Brezhoneg) pesked = fish

Etymology: from the Latin piscātus, past participle of piscor (to fish), from piscis (fish), from Proto-Indo-European *pisḱ-/peysḱ- (fish).

Interesting idioms related to fish:

  • Irish: Iasc as uisce i do bhéal! = Restrain your tongue! (“Fish out of water in your mouth”)
  • Irish: Ar iascadh libh? = Did you catch fish / succeed in your quest
  • Irish: Ar iascach ar dhuine = to fish information from sb
  • Welsh: pysgota mewn dŵr llwyd = to fish in troubled waters


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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