Fingers and Toes

Words for finger, toe and related things in Celtic languages.


Proto-Celtic *makro = finger
Old Irish (Goídelc) mér [mʲeːr] = finger, digit, toe
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) mér, mer, meóir, meúir = finger, digit, toe
Irish (Gaeilge) méar [mʲeːɾˠ] = finger, digit, toe, leg (of crustaceans, mollusks, etc), arm (of a cuttle fish)
an mhéar thosaigh/cholbha = the forefinger, index finger
an mhéar fhada/láir/mheáin = (the) middle finger
méar an fháinne = ring finger
an mhéar bheag / lúidín / lúideog = (the) little finger
méar coise = toe
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) meur [miar] = finger, digit, branch (of an organisation/family), key (in music), point (of an antler), knot (in wood)
meur-meomhair = forefinger, index finger
meur-meadhain / (am) meur fada / (am) meur meadhanach = middle finger
màthair na lùdaige / mac an aba / am madadh fada = ring finger
meur beag an airgid / plaoisgeag = little finger
Manx (Gaelg) mair = finger, digit, prong, ray, (piano) key, hand (of clock), tributary (of river)
corrag / corvair = the forefinger, index finger
mair vooar = the middle finger
mair ny fainey = ring finger
mair veg = the little finger
mair chass / mair choshey = toe
mair choshey veg / mair veg ny coshey = little toe

Etymology: possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *mh₂ḱros (lean, meager), which is also the root of the English word meagre/meager, the French word maigre (meagre, skinny, lean, thin), and the Spanish word magro (lean)[source].

Proto-Celtic *bissī / *bistis = finger
Old Irish (Goídelc) biss = icicle
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) biss, byss, bys = finger, toe, latch
Welsh (Cymraeg) bys [bɨːs / biːs] = finger (of hand/glove), toe; medium, agency; hand (of clock); latch
bys bawd = thumb
bys blaen = forefinger, index finger
bys y cogwrn = middle finger (“knuckle finger”)
bys y gyfaredd = ring finger
bys bach = little finger, ear-finger; minute-hand
bys(i)aid = as much as can be held on or taken up by the finger, a pinch
byseddaf, byseddu, bysedda = to finger, thumb, use the fingers
byseddog = having fingers, fingered
byseg = thimble
bysfedd = finger’s breadth, digit
byson = ring for the finger
Old Cornish bis/bes = finger
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) bis, bes = finger
bis truit = toe
bisou, besaw = ring
Cornish (Kernewek) bys, bes = finger, digit
bys bras = thumb
bys rag = index finger
bys kres = middle finger
bys bysow = ring finger
bys byghan / bes bian = little finger
byskon = thimble
bysow, besow = ring
Middle Breton (Brezonec) bes, bys, bis = finger
besou, bisou = ring
Breton (Brezhoneg) biz [biːs] = finger, hand (of clock), tooth (of tool), leg (of anchor), tentacle, tendril
biz-meud = thumb
biz-yod = index finger
biz bras = middle finger
biz-gwalenn / biz bizou = ring finger
biz bihan / skouarnel = little finger
bizou, bizoù [ˈbiːzu] = ring, jewel
bizouier = jeweller
bizour = jewel

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *gʷist- (twig, finger). The French word bijou (a piece of jewellry), comes from the same root, via the Breton bizoù (ring), from biz (finger) [source].

Proto-Celtic *māto = finger
Old Welsh (Kymraec) máut = finger, toe, latch
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) mawd, baut, bawd = finger, toe, latch
Welsh (Cymraeg) bawd = thumb, big toe; claw (of crab), hoof
bawd troed = big toe
bawdheglaf, bawdheglu = to hitch-hike
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) meut = thumb
Cornish (Kernewek) meus = thumb
meusva = inch
meusya = to hitchhike
Middle Breton (Brezonec) meut = thumb
Breton (Brezhoneg) meud [ˈmøːt] = thumb, pincer, claw
meud-troad = big toe, toe
meudadenn = grip (of the thumb)
meudata = to knead with one’s thumb

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *mē- [source].

Old Irish (Goídelc) ordu = thumb, big toe
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) ordu, órdu = thumb, big toe
Irish (Gaeilge) ordóg [ˈəuɾˠd̪ˠoːɡ] = thumb, big toe, claw, pincers, bit, piece, fragment
ordóg coise = big toe
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) òrdag [ɔːr̪ˠdag] = thumb, big toe
òrdag-coise / òrdag-mhór = big toe
òrdag-làimhe = thumb
òrdag bheag an airgid = little toe, little finger
Manx (Gaelg) ordaag = thumb
ordaag chass / ordaag choshey / ordaag vooar = big toe

Etymology: possibly from the Old Irish ord/ordd (hammer, piece, fragment, stub), from the Proto-Celtic *ordos (hammer) [source].

Old Irish (Goídelc) ladar = grasp, grip
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) ladar, ladair = fork or space between the fingers or between the thumb and the rest of the hand; grip, grasp; space between the toes
Irish (Gaeilge) ladhar [lˠaiɾˠ] = space between toes or fingers, toe, claw, prong, (clawed) hand
ladhar mhór = big toe
ladhar bheag = little toe
laidhricín = little toe, little finger
lúidín / lúideog = little finger, little toe
lúidín coise = little toe
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) ladhar [l̪ˠɤ.ər] = hoof, prong, toe, claw (of lobster)
ladhrag [l̪ˠɤːrag] = toe, prong, hoof
an ladhar mór = big toe
lùdag / lùdag bheag / lùdag dhubh na catha [l̪ˠuːdag] = little finger, hinge

Etymology: unknown [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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