Barnacles & Limpets

Words for barnacle, limpet and related things in Celtic languages.

Limpet Family at Sunny Cove

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *barinākos = barnacle, limpet
Gaulish *barinākā = barnacle, limpet
Old Irish (Goídelc) *bairnech = limpet
Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) bairnech, báirnech = limpet(s)
Irish (Gaeilge) bairneach [ˈbˠɑːɾˠn̠ʲəx] = limpet
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) bàirneach [baːr̪ˠn̪ʲəx] = barnacle, limpet
Manx (Gaelg) baarnagh, barnagh, bayrnagh = barnacle
guiy bayrnag = barnacle goose
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) brennik = limpets
Welsh (Cymraeg) brennig = limpets
brenigen = limpet
Middle Cornish brennic = limpets
brennigen = limpet
Cornish (Kernewek) brennik = limpets
brenigen, bernigen = limpet
Middle Breton brennik = limpet
Breton (Brezhoneg) brennig [ˈbrɛ.nːik] = barnacles, limpets
brennigenn = barnacle, limpet
brennika = to fish for limpets
brennikaer = limpet fisherman

Etymology: from the Proto-Celtic *barinā (rocky ground), and *-ākos (involved with, belonging to) [source].

Words from the same Proto-Celtic roots, via the Gaulish *barinākā and the Latin barnēca (barnacle goose, barnacle, limpet), include bernache (barnacle) in French, barnacle in English, barnacla (brent/brant goose – Branta bernicla) in Spanish [source].

Barnacle Geese

Old Irish (Goídelc) gigrann = barnacle goose
Middle Irish (Gaoidhleag) gigrann, giugrann = wild goose, barnacle goose
Irish (Gaeilge) giúrann = barnacle, shipworm, barnacle (goose)
giúrannach = encrusted with barnacles
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) giùran [gʲuːran] = barnacle
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) gwyran = barnacle goose, barnacles
Welsh (Cymraeg) gwyran = barnacle goose, barnacles
Old Breton (Brethonoc) goirann = barnacle goose, barnacles

Etymology: possibly from the Proto-Celtic *gezdā (goose) – probably of imitative origin [source]. For more details of words for goose in Celtic languages, this post.

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, 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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