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

copper pots

Proto-Celtic *omiyom = copper, bronze
Old Irish (Goídelc) umae, humae [ˈu.ṽe] = copper, bronze, brass
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) uma = copper, bronze, brass
Irish (Gaeilge) umha = copper, copper alloy, bronze
umhadhaite = bronze-coloured, bronzed
umhaí = worker in copper or bronze
cré-umha = bronze
cré-umhaigh = to bronze
salachar-umha = verdigris
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) umha [ũ.ə] = bronze, copper, brass
umhach = coppery, brassy
umha-dhathte = copper-coloured, bronze-coloured
ceàrd-umha = coppersmith
Linn an Umha = the Bronze Age
meirg-umha = verdigris
Manx (Gaelg) ooha = bronze
cur ooha er = to bronze, bronzing
Yn Eash Ooha = the Bronze Age
Proto-Brythonic *öβ̃ɨð = bronze, copper
Old Welsh emid, emed = bronze, copper
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) euyð, euyd = bronze, copper
Welsh (Cymraeg) efydd [ˈɛvɨ̞ð / ˈeːvɪð] = bronze, brass, copper; made of bronze brass or copper; brazen; bronze colour, coppery
efyddaf, efyddu = to cover or adorn with brass or copper, to braze
efyddaid = made of bronze or brass; brazen, brazed
efyddog = brassy, coppery
efyddwr = brass-smith, copper-smith
medal efydd = bronze medal
mwyn efydd = copper ore, copper mine
Oes yr Efydd = Bronze Age

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Etymology: possibly from the Proto-Celtic *omos (raw), from the Proto-Indo-European *h₂eh₃mós (raw, uncooked, bitter, sour) [source].

Some words from the same PIE root, via the Latin amārus (bitter, harsh, sour, dire), include amaro (bitter) in Italian, amer (bitter, sour) in French, amarillo (yellow, golden coloured) in Spanish [source], and marulă (lettuce) in Romanian [source].

Irish (Gaeilge) copar [ˈkopˠəɾˠ] = copper
gabha copair = coppersmith
coparás = copperas, copper sulphate
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) copar [kɔhbər] = copper
coparach = cuperous, like copper, coppery
copar-dubhaidh = copperas, green vitriol (iron(II) sylphate)
Manx (Gaelg) cobbyr, copuir = copper
cobbyragh = copperish, cupric
gaaue cobbyr = coppersmith
plait cobbyr = copperplate
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) copyr, copr, kopyr = copper
Welsh (Cymraeg) copr, copor, coper = copper; something of little value; red hair
gof copr = copper-smith
gwaith copr = copper-works, vessels made of copper
mwyn copr = copper ore, copper mine
Cornish (Kernewek) kober [stɛːn / steːn] = copper
kobrek = copper (colour)
Breton (Brezhoneg) kouevr = copper
kouevrek = cupric (relating to or containing copper)
kouevrus = cuprous (relating to or containing copper)

Etymology: from the Middle English coper (copper, bronze), from the Old English copor (copper), from the Proto-Germanic *kuprą (copper), from the Latin Latin cuprum (copper) from the Ancient Greek Κύπρος (Cyprus – where large reserves of copper can be found). The Breton word kouevr was borrowed from the French cuivre (copper, brass), from the same Latin root [source].

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, Gerlyvyr Cernewec, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, Le dictionnaire diachronique du breton, Geriafurch, English – ProtoCeltic WordList (PDF), Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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