Speckled and Spotted

Today we’re looking at words for speckled, spotted and related things in Celtic languages.


Proto-Celtic *brikkos = speckled, spotted
Gaulish *brikkos
Old Irish (Goídelc) brecc = checkered, flecked, speckled, spotted, variegated
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) brecc = speckled, spotted, variegated, patterned, ornamented, dappled
Irish (Gaeilge) breac [bʲɾʲak] = speckled, dappled, indifferent
breacachan = variegation
breachadh = speckling, dappling; variegation, scribbling writing, lightening (of colour)
breacaimsir = middling, fair but unsettled weather
breacaire = carver, engraver, engraving tool, scribbler
breacaireacht = variegation, chequering, carving, engraving, scribbling, doodling
breacán = tartan, plaid
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) breac [brʲɛxg] = speckled, spotted, spotty, dappled, variegated
breacadh = speckling, spotting, chequering, sprinkling, scattering
breacanach = pertaining to tartan, plaided
breacaichte = spotted, stippled
breac-seun = freckle
Breac a’ Mhuilinn = The Milky Way
Manx (Gaelg) breck = brindle, dapple-grey, medley, piebald, pied, speckle, spot, spotty, tartan, chequered, spotted, variegated
breck greiney = freckle
breck kiark = chickenpox
breckag = fleck of colour
breckan = brindle, medley, colour, plaid, tartan
breckanagh = tartan
breckey = brindle, chequering, dapple, freckle, mottle
Proto-Brythonic *brɨx = speckled, spotted
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) brych, brech = mottled, spotted, speckled
Welsh (Cymraeg) brych [brɨːχ/briːχ] = mottled, spotted, speckled, brindled, variegated, stained, defiled, freckled; spot, mark, blemish, stain; afterbirth, placenta
brychaf, brychu = to dapple with spots or blotches, mottle, mark, stain, sully, defile, spoil, freckle
brychiad = spotted or freckled person; sewin, sea trout
brych(i)og = mottled, brindled, spotted, pock-marked, freckled; placental
brychyn = (small) spot, mark, blemish, stain, flaw, freckle
Cornish (Kerneweg) brygh = pox, smallpox
Breton (Brezhoneg) brec’h [ˈbreːx] = smallpox, vaccine

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *perḱ- (motley, coloured, spotted) source]. Words for trout in Celtic languages are probably related.

Words from the same PIE root include perch (a type of freshwater fish) in English; forel (trout) and voorn (roach – a type of fish) in Dutch; Forelle (trout) in German, and possibly pulcro (tidy, neat) in Spanish [source].

Proto-Celtic *ɸerkos, *ferko- = perch, speckled
Old Irish (Goídelc) erc = speckled, spotted, cow, salmon
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) erc = speckled, dark red, trout, salmon, a spotted or red-eared cow
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) earc [ɛr̪ˠxg] = speckled, spotted, striped, dark/blood red
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) erch = mottled, speckled, dappled, dun, bay, dusky, dark
Welsh (Cymraeg) erch [ɛrχ] = mottled, speckled, dappled, dun, bay, dusky, dark
erchlas = dapple-grey (of horse), dark blue colour
erchyll = horrible, hideous, ghastly, dire, terrible, dreadful, awful, frightful

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *perḱ- (motley, coloured, spotted) source].

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, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, English – ProtoCeltic WordList (PDF), Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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