Words for bee, sting and related things in Celtic languages.


Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *bekos/*bikos = bee
Old Irish (Goídelc) bech [bʲex] = bee
Middle Irish bech [bʲex] = bee
bechlann [bʲex] = beehive
bechatoir, beachadoir = (hereditary) beekeeper
bechda = full of bees
Irish (Gaeilge) beach [bʲax] = bee
beachaire = beekeeper, beehive
beachaireacht = beekeeping
beachlann = apiary
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) beach [bɛx] = bee, wasp
beachach [bɛxəx] = pertaining to or abounding in bees or wasps
beachair [bɛxɪrʲ] = beehive
beachan [bjaxər̪ˠn̪ˠ] = small bees or wasps
Proto-Brythonic *bɨg = bee
Middle Welsh (Cymraeg) byg = bee
bedaf, bydaf = bees’ nest, beehive
bygegyr = drone
Welsh (Cymraeg) bygegyr, begegyr = drone
bydaf = swarm or nest of (wild) bees, bees’ nest and honey therein, beehive

Etymology: possibly from Proto-Indo-European *bʰik-/bʰoyk- (bee), from*bʰey- (bee) [source]. Words from the same roots include bee in English, and fuco (drone – male bee) in Italian [source].

Middle Irish teillenn = swarm of bees
Irish (Gaeilge) seileán = (wild) honey bee
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) seillean [ʃel̪ʲan] = bee
Manx (Gaelg) shellan [ˈʃɛlʲan] = bee
shelleig, shellaig = beehive, hive

Etymology: unknown [source].

Proto-Celtic *wan-inyo- = bee (?)
Middle Welsh (Cymraeg) gwanan, gwenyn = bees
gwenynen, guenenen = bee
gwenynllestyr = beehive
Welsh (Cymraeg) gwenyn = bees
gwenynen = bee
gwenynaf, gwenynu = to keep bees
gwenynllais = a humming (of bees)
gwenynlle = beehive
gwenynog = apiary, bee-garden, pertaining to bees, abounding in bees
gwenynydd = beekeeper, apiarist
gwenynyddiaeth = beekeeping
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) gwanan, gwenyn = bees
gwenynen, guenenen = bee
Cornish (Kernewek) gwenen = bees
gwenenen = bee
gwenen sia = bumble bee
Middle Breton (Brezonec) guenan, guënan = bees
guenanenn, guennanen = bee
Breton (Brezhoneg) gwenan, gwenen, gweren = bees
gwenanenn = bee
gwenaneg = apiary
gwenaner = beekeeper
gwenanerezh = beekeeping, apiculture

Etymology: from Proto-Celtic *wano- (tip, sting) [source], from PIE *gʷʰen- (to strike, slay, kill). Words from the same root include bane, defend, fence and gun , and words for to stab, sting, wound, etc. in Celtic languages (see below) [source].

Proto-Celtic *gʷaneti = to strike, wound, kill, slay
Old Irish (Goídelc) gonaid [ˈɡonɨðʲ] = to pierce, wound
con·goin = to pierce, wound
Middle Irish gonaid = to pierce, wound
Irish (Gaeilge) goin = to wound, stab, sting, hurt
goinbhlasta = piquant
goineach = wounding, piercing, hurtful
goineadóir = wounder, sharp-tongued person
goineog = stab, sting, prick, cutting remark, thrust, gibe
goineogacht = cutting remarks, gibing
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) goin [gɔn̪ʲ] = wound, stab, sting, stabbing, stinging
goineag [gɔnag] = nip, pinch, twitch, canine (tooth)
goineanta [gɔn̪ʲən̪ˠdə] = keen, piercing
gointe [gɔn̪ʲdʲə] = sorely wounded, bewitched
gointeach [gɔn̪ʲdʲəx] = wounding, stabbing, stinging, agonizing
Manx (Gaelg) guin = pain, stitch, pang
guinn = insect bite, pain, smart
guinney = needle, pain, sting, wound, wounding
gonnid = pain, peevishness, smarting, soreness
Proto-Brythonic *gwėnɨd [ɡwe̝ˈnɨːð] = to strike, kill
*ėdwėnɨd = to strike again
Middle Welsh (Cymraeg) gvant, guant, gwanu = to stab, prick, deeply, pierce
Welsh (Cymraeg) gwanu [ˈɡwanɨ̞ / ˈɡwa(ː)ni] = to stab, prick, deeply, pierce, perforate, penetrate, kill, strike, thrust (also written gwanaf or gwân)
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) gwane = to thrust, penetrate, pierce, stab, stick
gwenys, gwynys = pierced, stabbed, stung
Cornish (Kernewek) gwana = to pierce, stab, sting
gwan = jab, prick, sting
omwana = to stab oneself
Middle Breton (Brezonec) goano, goanaff, goan = to prick, grip, squeeze, annoy
Breton (Brezhoneg) gwanañ = to sting, punish, macerate
gwanerezh = maceration
gwanikennan = to prick

Etymology: from Proto-Indo-European *gʷʰénti (to be striking down, killing, slaying), from*gʷʰen- (to strike, slay, kill) [source].

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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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