Hard Steel

Today we’re looking at the words for steel and related things in Celtic languages.


Old Irish (Goídelc) dúr = hard, hardy, resolute, rigid
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) dúr = rigid, hard, solid; difficult; hard to bear; strict, austere; hardy, resolute; unfeeling, dour, obdurate
Irish (Gaeilge) dúr = hard, rigid, solid; dour, grim, obstinate; dense, stupid, blunt, insensitive; sluggish
dúramán = dull-witted, stupid person
dúramánta = dull-witted, stupid
dúranta = dour, grim, morose, sullen
dúrantacht = dourness, sullenness
dúrapóg = surly person
dúrchroí = hard heart, hardness of heart
dúrchroíoch = hard hearted
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) dùr [duːr] = stubborn, intractable; obstinate, dull, stupid; persevering
durganta = rigid, stiff, hardened; robust, rigorous; obstinate, dogged; sullen, morose; grim, forbidding
Manx (Gaelg) douyr = mournful, uncomfortable, unhappy, afflicting
Proto-Brythonic *dʉr = hard, hard metal, steel
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) dur = steel
Welsh (Cymraeg) dur [dɨːr / diːr] = steel, steel weapon; hard, cruel
duraidd = steely, hard, faithful, true
durawdr = steel sword or lance
dur bwrw = cast steel
edau ddur = wire
fel y dur = true as steel, like steel
llifddur = file, rasp
Cornish (Kernewek) dur = steel
dur dinamm = stainless steel
Breton (Brezhoneg) dir = steel
dir disvergi = stainless steel
kazeg-dir = bicycle (“steel mare”)

Etymology from the Latin dūrus (hard, rough, harsh), from the Proto-Indo-European *drew- (hard, fast), from *dóru (tree) [source].

Words from the same Latin root include the Scots word dour (hard, stern, severe, relentless), possibly via Middle Irish, which was also borrowed into English and means stern, harsh or forbidding; the French word dur (hard, tough, harsh), the Italian word duro (hard, tough, harsh), and the Spanish word duro (hard, form, solid) [source].

Words from the same PIE root include Celtic words for oak (tree), and the English words true, trough and trim [source].

Irish (Gaeilge) cruach [kɾˠuəx / kɾˠɔx] = steel
cruachghreanadóireacht = steel-engraving
cruachobair = steelwork
cruachphláta = steel-plate
cruachphlátáilte = steel-plated
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) cruaidh [kruəj] = steel; stone anchor; hard, rocky ground
Manx (Gaelg) creoighey = steel

Etymology from the Irish crua (hard), from the Old Irish crúaid (hard, hardy, harsh, stern, strict), from the Proto-Celtic *kroudis (rude), possibly from *krū- (blood), from the Proto-Indo-European *krewh₂-. (blood) [source].

Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) stàilinn [sdaːl̪ʲɪn̪ʲ] = steel
clòimh-stàilinn = steel wool
obraiche-stàilinn = steelworker
ionad-stàilinn = steelworks
Manx (Gaelg) staillin, steillyn, steillin = steel
staillinagh = steel-maker, steel
obbyr staillinagh = steelwork
ollan staillinagh = steel wool
snaie staillinagh = steel wire
towse staillinagh = steelyard

Etymology from the Old Norse stál (steel, sword), from the Proto-Germanic stahlą (steel), from the Proto-Indo-European *stek- (to be firm, stand fast) [source].

Words from the same Proto-Germanic root include steel in English, staal (steel) in Dutch, Stahl (steel) in German, and stål (steel, tool) in Danish [source].

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Sources: Wiktionary, Am Faclair Beag, Online Manx Dictionary, Teanglann.ie, eDIL – Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language, In Dúil Bélrai English – Old Irish glossary, Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, Gerlyver Kernewek, Gerlyvyr Cernewec, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, Le dictionnaire diachronique du breton, Geriafurch, English – ProtoCeltic WordList (PDF), Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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One thought on “Hard Steel

  1. Note that in Manx (Gaelg) the word creoighey is a verb, in a context such as “steeling oneself to a difficult/unpalatable task”. It is related to creoi, ‘hard’.

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