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


Proto-Celtic *riyatros = waterfall
Old Irish (Goídelc) ríathor = torrent
Irish (Gaeilge) riathar = torrent (literary)
Old Welsh réátir = torrent
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) raeadyr, raiader, rhaiadr = cataract, waterfall
Welsh (Cymraeg) rhaeadr [ˈr̥ʰeɨ̯.adr̩ / ˈr̥ʰei̯.adr̩] = waterfall, cataract, cascade, torrent
rhaeadru = to fall or pour in a cascade or waterfall, fall steeply, gush, flow, stream
rhaeadraidd = like a waterfall
rhaeadriad = the act of falling or flowing like a waterfall

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *h₃reiH- (to flow) [source].

Old Irish (Goídelc) ess = rapids, waterfall
Irish (Gaeilge) eas = waterfall, cascade, cataract; swift current, rapid
easach = having, abounding in waterfalls, cascading
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) eas [es] = waterfall, cataract, cascade
easach [esəx] = abounding in waterfalls
easachan [esəxan] = small waterfall
easan [esan] = small waterfall; thin gruel
easgraich [esgrɪç] = torrent
easraich [esrɪç] = plunge pool, waterfall lake; bustle, commotion
eas muilinn = mill-race
con-eas = multiple waterfalls
poll-easa = plunge pool
Manx (Gaelg) eas = cascade, cataract, chute, shoot, waterfall
easan = small waterfall, small cataract
mwyllin roie’n eas = water mill

Etymology: unknown [source].

Middle Welsh (Kymraec) ysgwt, ysgwd, ysgŵd = waterfall, cataract, cascade
Welsh (Cymraeg) sgwd [skuːd] = waterfall, cataract, cascade, chute, millstream, mill-race, sluice, floodgate (South Wales)

Etymology: unknown [source].

Middle Welsh (Kymraec) pistill = waterfall, cataract, cascade
Welsh (Cymraeg) pistyll = waterfall, cataract, cascade, chute, millstream, mill-race, sluice, floodgate (South Wales)
pistyll yr ysgyfaint = trachea
Cornish (Kernewek) pistyl = little waterfall
pistylla = to spout

Etymology: possibly from the Latin pistillum (pestle), which is also the root of the English word pestle [source].

Cornish (Kernewek) dowrlam = waterfall
Breton (Brezhoneg) lamm-dour = waterfall

Etymology: from dowr / dour (water) and lam / lamm (leap).

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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