Down Under

Words for down, below, under and related things in Celtic languages.

Spiral staircase in Conwy / Grisiau troellog yng Nghonwy

Proto-Celtic *ɸīssu = under
Old Irish (Goídelc) ís = below
sís = down, downwards, northwards
anís = below, from below
tís = below
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) ís = below, under
sís, sis = down, downwards, northwards, below, onwards, throughout, onwards
sísana, siosina, sisana = here below, below
anís, = (from) below, beneath
tís = below, in the north
Irish (Gaeilge) síos [ʃiːsˠ] = down (away from the speaker), to lower place or station, hanging down, drooping, trailing, to the north, to a lesser centre or remote district, following
síos suas = upside down, topsyturvy
aníos = up (from below), from the north
thíos = down, in a lower place, in the north, below, farther on in a book, written down, entered (in a ledger, etc), on the fire
thíosluaite = undermentioned
thíos-sínithe = undersigned
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) sìos [ʃiəs] = down (away from the speaker), downwards, below
shìos [hiəs] = down, below
a-nìos [əˈn̪ʲiəs] = up, upwards (towards from the speaker)
a-sìos [əˈʃiəs] = down, downwards
sìos ‘nad inntinn = depressed
a’ dol sìos = going down, experiencing a downturn, charging (in battle)
cuir sìos = to put/lay/set down
is mar sin sìos = and so on
Manx (Gaelg) sheese = below, down, downward(s)
brishey sheese = to analyse, analysis, break down, rend
sheese lesh = down the hatch, down with
soie sheese = to settle, sit down
heese = beneath, down, downhill, hereafter, lower end, under, knock-down (prices)
neese = from below up, upwards
Old Welsh is = under, underneath, beneath, below, lower than
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) is, iss = under, underneath, beneath, below, lower than
iss-hau, isheir = to sink, sink down or lower
issot, isod = under, underneath, below, beneath
Welsh (Cymraeg) is = under, underneath, beneath, below, lower than; before; lower, inferior, poorer
isâf, isáu = to come/go lower, to reduce in rank, lower the pride of, debase, degrade, humble, humiliate
isafaf, isafu = to minimize, reduce, lower
isafiad = (one’s) inferior
isod = under, underneath, below, beneath, on earth, lower down, later, further
Middle Cornish (CerneweC) isa = lowest
isot = downwards
Cornish (Kernewek) a-is = below, lower
Old Breton isel = low
Middle Breton (Brezonec) is = lower, below
Breton (Brezhoneg) is = lower, below
isdouarel = underground

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European pedsú, from *pṓds (foot), from *ped- (to walk, step) [source]. Words from the same roots include íseal (low) in Irish, ìosal (low, humble) in Scottish Gaelic, isel (low) in Welsh and related words for low in other Celtic languages, Fuß (foot) in German and pie (foot) in Spanish [more details].

Proto-Celtic *uɸo/*ufo- = under
Old Irish (Goídelc) fo = beneath, through, throughout, towards, under
fo bésad = after the manner of, like
fo bíthin = because (of)
fo chétóir = at once, immediately
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) fo, fa, fá = under, underneath, into, through, about, around
Irish (Gaeilge) faoi [fˠiː] = beneath, below, bearing, supporting, about, round, against
faoi cheann = by, at, the end of
faoi adhall = in heat
faoi bhaile = at home, around
faoi bhun = beneath
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) fo [fɔ] = under, underneath, below, beneath, subordinate
fo-dhearg = infrared
fo-inntinn = subconscious
fo-ros = undergrowth
fo chleòca = under cover, in secret
Manx (Gaelg) fo = below, beneath, under, sunken, dependent, underlaying, subsidiary, junior, assistant
fo aggle = aghast, alarmed, awestricken
fo arrey = under surveillance
fo chiuney = beclamed
fo druaight = charmed
fo-heer-vooar = subcontinent
Old Welsh guo, gu =under, rather, somewhat
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) gwo, gwa, go = under, rather, somewhat
goaruoel = rather bald, baldish
Welsh (Cymraeg) go = under, rather, somewhat, slightly, partly, small, exceeding
go agos = near, almost
go dde = right, dexterous
go lew = pretty fair, middling
go is = beneath
goarfoel = rather bald, baldish
Middle Cornish (CerneweC) go = rather
Middle Breton (Brezonec) gou, gu, go, fo, uo = under
Breton (Brezhoneg) gwa-, gou- = under, sub-

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *upo (under, below). Words for high in Celtic languages come from the same root, as does sub(marine) in English, sumo (highest, greatest) in Spanish and summo (hightest, greatest, great) [source].

Proto-Celtic *tanā = (point in) time
Old Irish (Goídelc) tan = when, time
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) tan, tain = time, while, point of time, when, whenever, until, before
Irish (Gaeilge) tan [tan] = time, occasion, once upon a time, once
(an) tan = at the time that, when, whenever, since
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) tàn [taːn] =time, season
an tàn = when, at the time
Proto-Brythonic *tan =under
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) dan, tan = under, below, beneath
Welsh (Cymraeg) tan [tan] = until, under, while
dan = under, below, beneath, underneath, on the inside, less than, until, while, because, since
o dan = under
tan lw = under oath
dan yr awyr, tan awyr = under the sky, in the open air
dan ddaear = underground
dan din = sneaky, deceitful, stealthy, secret, illicit
dan y don = under water
dan draed = underfoot, in the way
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) tan = under, beneath, below
(yn) dan = under, beneath
danva = a hiding place, concealment
Cornish (Kernewek) yn-dann = below, beneath, under, underneath
yn-dann alhwedh = under lockdown
yn-dann dava = in touch
yn-dann dhor = underground
yn-dann dhowr = underwater
yn-dann gel = in secret, secretly
yn-dann hatt = confidential
yn-dann with = care of (c/o)
Old Breton tan, dan = under
Middle Breton (Brezonec) dan = bottom, back, under, underneath
Breton (Brezhoneg) dan = basement, subsoil
dindan = under, on, sub-
dindan-douar = underground, secret
dindan-vor = underwater

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *tn̥néh₂ (a stretch), from *ten- (to stretch). Words from the same root include contain, tenant, tone and tune in English [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

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