Soft and Tender

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


Proto-Celtic *buggos = soft, tender
Old Irish (Goídelc) boc = soft, gentle, tender
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) boc = soft, gentle, tender, tepid
Irish (Gaeilge) bog [bˠɔɡ / bˠʌɡ] (noun) = soft, tender, flabby, indulgent, lenient, mellow (voice), mild (weather), loose, lukewarm
bog (verb) = to soften, become soft, ease, warm, get milder, move, loosen, rock
bogach = soft, boggy ground
bogachar = softness, bogginess
bogadh = softening, easement, movement, stir
bogánta = soft, squelchy
bogearraí = software
an rud a fhaightear go bog caitear go bog é = easy come, easy go
tóg go bog é = take it easy
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) bog [boɡ] = flabby, soft, limp, pulpy; moist, marshy, boggy, slopp; foolish; damp, humid; indulgent; spiritless; flat (in music); lax (in linguistics)
bogach = bog, fen, marsh, swamp, morass, quagmire
bogachadh = wetting, steeping, moistening, mellowing, softening, swilling
bathar-bog = software
Manx (Gaelg) bog = soft, easy, tender, flabby, pulpy, slack, limp, moist, soft-hearted, callow
boggagh = to soften, steep
strong>boggaghey = to soften, relax, ease, moisten, dissolve
boggyr = soft
boglagh = quagmire, morass, swamp, oozy, boggy
bog-roauyr = podgy
bog-vroiet = soft-boiled
bog- vroojit = squashy
Old Breton (Brethonoc) buc = soft, tender
Middle Breton (Brezonec) boug = soft, tender
Breton (Brezhoneg) bouk [buːk] = soft, cozy, heavy, stifling (weather)
boukaat [buˈkɑːt] = to soften, tenderize
boukted = softness, weakness

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰewgʰ- (to bend, curve, arch) [source].

The English word bog (wet spongy ground, marsh, swamp), was borrowed from the Irish or Scottish Gaelic bog [source]. English words from the same PIE root include badge, bagel, (to) bow, buck and bow (and arrow) [source].

Old Irish (Goídelc) muad = cloud, mist, fumes
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) muad, muadh = cloud, mist, fumes
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) muadh = soft, moist
Manx (Gaelg) meeley = soft, bland, smooth, yielding, soft-spoken, moisten, delicate, fine
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) medal, meddal [kam] = soft, yielding, tender, delicate, pliable
Welsh (Cymraeg) meddal [ˈmɛðal / ˈmeːðal] = soft, yielding, tender, delicate, pliable; mild, gentle, placid, tolerant, merciful, lax, inexperienced, foolish, weak
meddalu = to soften, become soft, thaw; to lenite, cause lenition
meddalaidd = soft, softish, tender, immature, foolish, weak
meddalder = softness, soft spot, tenderness, sensitivity
meddaledig = softened, soft, tender
meddalwedd = software
treiglad meddal = soft mutation
Middle Cornish medhal, meddal = soft, mollient, tender
medhalder = softness, tenderness, mildness, gentleness
Cornish (Kernewek) medhel = soft
medhelhe = to lenite, soften, absorb
medhelheans = lenition
medhelweyth = software
Middle Breton mezell = malleable, mean
Breton (Brezhoneg) mezel = malleable, mean, leprosy

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Etymology: unknown

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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