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

Claes Oldenburg

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) píce = pole, pike
pícóid = mattock, pickaxe
Irish (Gaeilge) píce [ˈpʲiːcɪ] = pike, fork, peak
píceáil = pike, fork, pitchfork, peak
píceálaí = forker, pitcher
píceán = peak, tip
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) pic, pìc [piːçgʲ] = pike
pìceach [piːçgʲəx] = armed with pikes, abounding in pikes
pìcear = pikeman
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) pig = point, spike, pike
pigo = to prick, pierce, goad, peck, sting, bite
pigawd = a thrusting or stabbing with a spear, a pricking
Welsh (Cymraeg) pig [piːɡ] = point, spike, pike, lance, pick(axe), prong, beak
pigach = darts
pigadail = obelisk, spire, pyramid, cone
pigaf, pigo = to prick, pierce, goad, peck, sting, bite
pig(i)aid = as much as can be picked up or carried on a pitchfork, beakful
pigau = pitchfork, hay-fork
pigawd = a thrusting or stabbing with a spear, a pricking
pigell = goad, prick, prickle
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) piga = to prick, prickle, sting
pigol = mattock, pick, pickaxe
Cornish (Kernewek) pig = grub axe, grubber, pick, pickaxe, pickle
piga = to goad, incite, sting
pigell = hoe, pick(axe), pickle
pigallas = to hoe
pigellik = picker
Middle Breton (Brezonec) pig = pickaxe
Breton (Brezhoneg) pik = piquant, point, pique
pikañ = to sting, bite, pinch
pikezenn = pike, spade (in cards)
pigell = pickaxe

Etymology (Irish): from Old French pik(k)e, from Latin pīcca (pickace, pike), possibly from Frankish *pikkōn (to peck, strike), or from Frankish *pīk (sharp point, pike), from Proto-Germanic *pīkaz (sharp point, pike, pickaxe, peak) probably of imitative origin [source].

Etymology (Scottish Gaelic, Welsh & Cornish): probably from English pike or the Middle English pyke (pike, sharp point), which ultimately come from the same Proto-Germanic roots as pik(k)e in Old French.

Words from the same roots include peck, pick, pike, pique, pitch in English [source].

Irish (Gaeilge) caib [kɑbʲ/kabʲ] = dibble
caibeáil = to plant with an implement, dibble
caibeáilaí = planter (of seed), dibbler
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) caibe [kɛbə] = space, mattock, iron part of tools
caibe-sìthe = fairy spade (amulet given to sick people & cattle)
Manx (Gaelg) kiebbey = spade, mattock
Old Welsh cep = pickaxe, mattock, hoe, ploughshare
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) keyp, keib, caib = pickaxe, mattock, hoe, ploughshare
Welsh (Cymraeg) caib = pickaxe, mattock, hoe, ploughshare
caib garddwr = hoe
caib big, caib bicys = pickaxe

Etymology: unknown

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, Lexicon Cornu-britannicum: A Dictionary of the Ancient Celtic Language of Cornwall, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, Le dictionnaire diachronique du breton, Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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