Boats and Ships

Words for boat, ship and related vessels in Celtic languages.

Douglas / Doolish

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *longā- = boat, vessel
Old Irish (Goídelc) long [l͈oŋɡ] = boat, ship
longfort = camp, encampment, stronghold
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) long, longa = boat, ship, vessel, long-ship, galley; vessel, container; house; bed
longphort, lonngport = camp, encampment, temporary stronghold, mansion, princely dwelling; stronghold, fortress
Irish (Gaeilge) long [l̪ˠɔŋ] = ship, vessel, container, house
longbhá = shipwreck
longbhac = embargo (on ships), naval blockade
longbhoth = (navel) dock
longbhriste = shipwrecked
longcheárta, longchlós = shipyard
longfort = camp, stronghold, fortified residence
longlann = dockyard
longmhar = abounding in ships
longtheach = boat-house
longthógáil = shipbuilding
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) long [l̪ˠɔuŋg] = ship
longas = shipping, shipment
longart = seaport
long-adhair = airship
long-bhriste = shipwreck
long-chasgadh = embargo
long-fhada = galley (ship)
long-fhànais = spaceship
long-lann = dockyard
long-phort = seaport
long-thogail = shipbuilding
Manx (Gaelg) lhong [loŋ] = ship, vessel
lhong aer = airship
lhong-chaardee = boatyard, shipyard
lhong chrowal = hovercraft
lhong liauyr = longship
lhong-phurt = basin, seaport
lhong spoar = spaceship
lhong spooillee = pirate ship
lhuingys = fleet, shipping
Proto-Brythonic *llong = ship, vessel
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) loggou, log, llogeu, llong = ship, boat
llongi = to embark, ship
llongeidiev, llongaid = shipload, shipful, shipment, cargo
llog porth, llogborth, llong-borth = seaport, haven, harbour
long-dorr = shipwreck
longhawl, llonghavl. llongawl = nautical, maritime, naval
llongỼyr, llongwr = seaman, sailor, mariner
Welsh (Cymraeg) llong [ɬɔŋ] = ship, boat; the Great Bear (Ursa Major)
llongaf, llongi = to embark, ship
llongaid = shipload, shipful, shipment, cargo
llongborth = seaport, harbour, dock, quay
llongdor = shipwreck
llongol = nautical, maritime, naval
llongwr = seaman, sailor, mariner
llong awyr = airship, aeroplane
llong y diffeithwch, llong dir = ship of the desert, camel
llong ofod = spaceship, spacecraft
llong hofran = hovercraft
llong danfor(ol) = submarine
Old Breton locou = ship, boat

Etymology: possibly from the Latin (navis) longa ([long] boat), or from an unknown source [Source].

Proto-Celtic *nāwā- = boat
Old Irish (Goídelc) nau, nó = boat
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) nó, noe = boat (generally a small one, propelled by oars)
Irish (Gaeilge) nae [n̪ˠeː] = boat
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) noe = large vase, bowl
Welsh (Cymraeg) noe = (wooden) vessel used in making butter, kneading dough, etc. shallow dish, bowl, pan, basin, laver, wooden trough
noeaid = dishful
Cornish (Kernewek) new = sink, trough, washbasin
new doos = trough
new-droghya = sheep dip
Middle Breton (Brezonec) néau, néff, neo, nev = trough, bucket
néay-doas, neo-doaz, nev-doaz = kneading-trough
Breton (Brezhoneg) nev = trough, bucket

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *néh₂us (boat), from *(s)neh₂- (to swim) [Source]. Words from the same roots include navy, navigate, andnautical in English [Source].

Old Irish (Goídelic) bát = boat
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) bát, bád = boat
Irish (Gaeilge) bád [bˠɑːd̪ˠ/bˠaːd̪ˠ] = boat
bádóireacht = (act of) boating
bád iascaigh = fishing boat
bád seoil = sailing boat
bád tarrthála = lifeboat
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) bàta [baːhdə] = boat, craft
bàtaireachd = boating
bàta-aigeil = submarine
bàta-asieig = ferry boat
bàta-falbhain = hovercraft
bàta-iasgaich = fishing boat
bàta-sàbhalaidh = lifeboat
bàta-siùil = sailing boat
Manx (Gaelg) baatey [ˈbɛːðə] = boat, even keel
baateyrys = boating
baatey assaig = ferry boat
baatey bieauid = speedboat
baatey eeastee = fishing boat
baatey etlagh = seaplane
baatey sauaillagh = lifeboat
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) bat, bad = boat
badwr = boatman, waterman, ferryman
Welsh (Cymraeg) bad = boat, barge, (small) ship
badaid = boatful
badlong = ketch, pinnace
badwr = boatman, waterman, ferryman
bad acbub = lifeboat
bad pysgota = fishing boat

Etymology: from Old English bāt (boat) or from Old Norse bátr (boat), both of which come from Proto-Germanic *baitaz (boat, ship), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeyd- (to break, split) [Source].

The English word boat comes from the same roots, as do words for boat in many other languages [Source].

Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) scaf, scaffu, scafa = ship
Irish (Gaeilge) scafa [sˠkɑfˠə] = ship
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) sgoth [sgɔh] = skiff
sgothag = little skiff, small yacht, cutter
sgiof [sgʲif] = skiff (boat)
sgib [sgʲib] = small ship (archaic)
Manx (Gaelg) skiff = skiff
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) esgraff, yscraff, ysgraff = boat, barge, ferry
Welsh (Cymraeg) ysgraff, sgraff = boat, barge, skiff, ferry, ship, raft
ysgraffbont = pontoon
ysgraffwr, ysgraffydd = ferryman, boatman, bargee
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) scath = boat
scath hîr = long boat
Cornish (Kernewek) skath = boat
skathik = dinghy
skath hir = barge
skath kloos = raft
skath tan = motor-boat
skath sawya = lifeboat
skath-wolya = sailing boat
Middle Breton (Brezonec) scaph, scaff, sqaff, skaf = skiff
skavat, skafad = contents of a skiff
Breton (Brezhoneg) skaf = skiff, landing net

Etymology: possibly from Latin scapha (a light boat, skiff), from Ancient Greek σκάφη (skáphē – light boat, skiff), from σκᾰ́πτω (skáptō – to dig, delve); or from Old Norse skúta (small craft, cutter) [Source].

Proto-Celtic *lestrom = vessel, pot
Old Irish (Goídelic) lestar = vessel, container, beehive
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) lestar = vessel, container, beehive, ship, boat
lestarach = frequented by ships
Irish (Gaeilge) leastar [ˈl̠ʲasˠt̪ˠəɾˠ] = vessel, container (for liquids), cask, firkin, (wash) tub, punt (boat), tub; squat, dumpy person
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) leastar = small boat, cup, vessel, furniture of a house
Proto-Brythonic *llestr = vessel, container
Old Welsh lestir = vessel, container
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) llestri, llestyr = vessel, container
llestreit, llestraid, llestred = vesselful, caskful, tubful, bushel
llestryn, llestrun = small vessel, small barrel, boat
Welsh (Cymraeg) llestr [ɬɛstr/ˈɬɛstɛr] = vessel, bushel, ship, boat, beehive, womb, uterus
llestraid = vesselful, caskful, tubful, bushel
llestrwr = maker of vessels, potter
llestryn = small vessel, small barrel, boat, human body
Old Cornish lester = vessel, container
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) lester = vessel, ship
golowlester = a light-vessel, a lamp
Cornish (Kernewek) lester = dish, ship, utensil vessel
lester eth = steam boat
lester-bargesi = hovercraft
lester=gwari = yacht
lester-sedhi = submarine
annedh lester = houseboat
lestrier = (kitchen) dresser
lestriva = dockyard
lestryn = container
Old Breton lestr = ship, vessel, container
Middle Breton (Brezonec) lestr = ship, vessel, container
lestr-dre-dan = steamship
lestr-kroazer, lestr-reder = cruiser
Breton (Brezhoneg) lestr [ˈlɛstʁ] = vessel, container, ship
lestr-spluj[lɛs.ˈplyːʃ] = submarine
aerlestr [ˈɛʁlestʁ] = aircraft
lestrañ [ˈlɛstrã] = to board, load (a vehicle)
dilestrañ [diˈlɛsːtrã] = to disemark

Etymology: possibly from Proto-Indo-European *pleḱ- (to fold, weave). The Goidelic words were possibly borrowed from Proto-Brythonic [Source].


Middle Welsh (Kymraec) cwch, cŵch = boat, beehive
Welsh (Cymraeg) cwch [kʊχ] = boat, beehive
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) coc = boat
Cornish (Kernewek) kok = fishing boat
Middle Breton (Brezonec) couc’h = cover of a beehive, hull (of a boat)
Breton (Brezhoneg) kouc’h = cover of a beehive, hull (of a boat)
kouc’hañ = to cover (a beehive)

Etymology: possibly cognate with the English word cog (a clinker-built, flat-bottomed, square-rigged mediaeval ship of burden, or war with a round, bulky hull and a single mast; a small fishing boat), which comes from Middle Dutch cogghe (clinker-built, flat-bottomed sailing cargo ship of the Middle Ages), from Proto-Germanic *kuggō, from PIE *gugā (hump, ball) [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, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, English – ProtoCeltic WordList (PDF), Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic, Cleasby & Vigfusson Old Norse dictionary

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