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 [bʲrʲek] = checked, flecked, speckled, spotted, variegated
brecht = variegated
brechtnaigthe = variegated
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) brecc, breac, brec = speckled, spotted, variegated, patterned, ornamented, dappled
brecht = variegated, varied, various
brecht(g)na = many-hued
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
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) brych, brech = mottled, spotted, brindled
brychy = to dapple, mottle
brychau, brychav, brychæ = spots, marks, stains
brychedic, bryçedig = mottled, brindled, speckled, spotted
Welsh (Cymraeg) brych [brɨːχ/briːχ] = mottled, spotted, brindled, variegated, stained, defiled, freckled, spot, mark, blemish, stain, afterbirth, placenta
brychaf, brychu = to dapple, mottle, mark, stain, sully
brychau = spots, marks, stains
brych(i)edig = mottled, brindled, speckled, spotted
brech [brɛχ] = rash, pox, inoculation, vaccination, cowpox
brechaf, brechu, brecho = to vaccinate, innoculate
brechedig = vaccinated, vaccinee
brechiad = vaccination, inoculation, injection
brechlyn = vaccine
Cornish (Kernewek) brygh = pox, smallpox, spot
brygh rudh = measles
brygh yar = chickenpox
bryghlin = vaccine
bryghlina = to vaccinate
bryghlinans = vaccination
Middle Breton (Brezonec) brech, bræch = smallpox, vaccine, sheep pox
brahaing, brehain, brec’hagn = sterile
Breton (Brezhoneg) brec’h [ˈbrɛːx] = smallpox, vaccine
brec’hidigezh = vaccination
brec’h-den = smallpox, vaccine
brec’h-nij = chickenpox
brec’h-zu = thyphus

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 in English, färg (colour) in Swedish, väri (colour) in Finnish, Farbe (colour, paint, dye) in German, and barva (colour, paint, ink) in Czech [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].

Proto-Celtic *mrixtos = painted, speckled
Proto-Brythonic *briθ [ˈbriːθ] = painted, speckled, variegated
Old Welsh brith = variegated, coloured
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) brith, breith, braith = variegated, coloured
Welsh (Cymraeg) brith [briːθ] = variegated, coloured, chequered, mottled, pied, spotted, speckled, brindled, grey; numerous, abundant
brith(i)af, brith(i)o = to colour, variegate, speckle, dapple, adorn, embroider, to turn grey (hair), to curdle, blot
brithder = spottedness, speckledness, gaudiness
britheg [ˈbriθɛɡ] = snake’s head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)
brithyll = (brown) trout
bara brith = bara brith (Welsh current loaf, lit. “speckled bread”)
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) brith = streaked, motley, variegated, parti-coloured, pied, speckled
brithel, breithil = mackerel
Cornish (Kernewek) brith = streaked, striped, tartan
britha = to dapple, mottle, streak
brithednek = freckled
brithel = mackerel
brithen = freckle
brithennek = freckled; fallow deer
brithki = mongrel
brithlen = tapestry
brithweyth = mosaic
brithys = dappled, mottled, spotted
Middle Breton (Brezonec) bris, brih, breh, briz = colourful, stained, dirty, piebald
brizadur = speckles, freckles
Breton (Brezhoneg) brizh = colourful, stained, piebald
brizhadenn = freckle
brizhellet = dappled, flecked

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European word *mr̥gʷ-tó-s, from *mergʷ- (dark, coloured) [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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