Sieving Riddles

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

Woman hands sieving flour

Proto-Celtic *krētros = sieve
Old Irish (Gaoidhealg) críathar = sieve
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) críathar = sieve, riddle
críatharach = marsh, morass, boggy wasteland
críathrad = act of winnowing, sifting, riddling
críathraid = sifts, riddles, spreads
Irish (Gaeilge) criathar [ˈcɾʲiəhəɾˠ / ˈcɾʲiːhəɾˠ] = sieve, riddle
criathach = pitted, perforated, swampy
criathrú = winnowing, sifting, honeycombing
criathradóir = winnower, sifter, maker of sieves
criathraigh = to sieve, winnow, riddle, sift, honeycomb
criathróir = animal surefooted on boggy ground
criathar meala = honeycomb
criathar mín = fine sieve
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) criathar [krʲiə.ər] = riddle, sieve
criathar-tomhais = bushel (measure and implement)
criathar-garbh = riddle (implement)
criatharair [krʲiəhərɛrʲ] = sieve-maker
criathradh [krʲiarəɣ] = (act of) filtering
Manx (Gaelg) creear = sieve, riddle
creearey = sieve, pan, sift, riddle
creear meein = fine sieve
creear garroo = rough sieve
jannoo creear = to honeycomb
Proto-Brythonic *kruɨdr = wandering, sieve
Old Welsh cruitr = winnowing shovel
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) cruidir, crwydr = sieve
Welsh (Cymraeg) crwydr [ˈkrʰʊɨ̯dr̩ / ˈkrʰʊi̯dr̩] = a wandering, a roaming; misfortune, trouble, confusion, rout, dispersion; a straying, aberration, error; winnowing-fan, winnowing-shovel, sieve
crwydro = to wander, roam, stroll, gad about, stray, go astray, deviate, digress
crwydredig = wandering, vagrant, roving, stray
crwydro = barn, granary, farm building
crwydrwr = wanderer, vagrant, vagabond, rover, nomad
Old Cornish croider = sieve, riddle
Middle Cornish croider, crodar = sieve, riddle
Cornish (Kernewek) kroder = coarse sieve, strainer, riddle
kroder kroghen = bodhrán, hold-all
Old Breton croitir = sieve, riddle
Middle Breton croezr = sieve, riddle
Breton (Brezhoneg) krouer = sieve, riddle, screen
krouerañ = to sift, riddle, sieve
krouer liammoù = link generator
rakkroueriañ = pre-screening

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *krey-trom (sieve) from *krey- (to sift, separate, divide) [source].

Words from the same PIE root include crime, crisis, riddle and secret in English, ceart (right, correct, true) in Irish, and crynu (to tremble, shake) and ergryn (horror, dread) in Welsh [source].

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

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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