Pins & Needles

Words for pin, needle and related things in Celtic languages.

Pins and Needles

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *delgos = pin, needle
Gaulish *dalgis = scythe
Old Irish (Goídelc) delg [dʲerɡ] = thorn, pin, brooch, peg
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) delg = thorn, pin, brooch, peg, spike, nail, pointed implement
delga, delgu = pin, peg, spike, tip, point
delgach = pointed
Irish (Gaeilge) dealg [ˈdʲal̪ˠəɡ / ˈdʲalˠəɡ] = thorn, prickle, spine, spike, pin, peg, pointed implement, brooch
dealgán = knitting-needle
deilgne = thorns, prickles
deilgneach = thorny, prickly, barbed
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) dealg [dʲal̪ˠag] = pin, skewer, knitting needle, prick(le)
dealg-fighidh = knitting needle
dealgan = spindle, small pin, skewer
dealg brodaidh = cattle prod
dealgach [dʲal̪ˠagəx] = prickly, stinging
dealganach [dʲal̪ˠaganəx] = pertaining to or abounding in spindles, small pins or skewers
Manx (Gaelg) jialg = broochpin, needle, prick(le), quill, spine, thorn, pin
jialg broghil = brooch
jialg fuilt = hairpin
jialg oashyr = knitting needle
jialgagh = prickly, spiniferous, spiny, thorny
jialgaghey = to pin, prickle, pinning
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) dala = sting
Welsh (Cymraeg) dala [ˈdala] = sting, bite
Old Cornish (Cernewec) delc(h) = jewel, necklace
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) delc = necklace
Cornish (Kernewek) delk = necklace

Etymology from Proto-Indo-European *dʰelg- (sting). Words from the same root include dálkur (spine of a fish, knife, dagger, [newspaper] column) in Icelandic, dilgus (prickly) in Lithuanian, falce (scythe, sickle) in Italian, hoz (sickle) in Spanish, and falcate (shaped like a sickle), falcifer (sickle-bearing, holding a scythe) in English [source].

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root, via Gaulish *dalgis (scythe) and Latin *daculum (scythe) , possibly include dall (mowing, billhook) in Catalan, dalle (scythe) in Spanish, and dalha (scythe) in Occitan (Languedoc) [source].

The English word dagger, and related words in other languages, such as daga (dagger) in Spanish, and Degen (rapier, épée) in German, might come from the same roots [source].

Proto-Celtic *ber = (cooking) spin
Old Irish (Goídelc) bi(u)r [bʲir] = stake, spit, point, spear, spike
berach = pointed, sharp
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) bir = stake, spit, point, spear, spike
biraid = to pierce
biraigthe = sharpened, pointed
birda = pointed, sharp
birín = little spike, sharp point, dart, little spear
Irish (Gaeilge) bior [ˈbʲɨ̞ɾˠ] = pointed rod or shaft, spit, spike, point
biorach = pointed, sharp
bioraigh = to point, sharpen
biorán = pin, hand (of clock)
bioranta = sharp
biorú = pointing, sharpening
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) bior [bir] = prickle, thorn, point, pointed object, knitting needle
biorachadh [birəxəɣ] = sharpening, making pointed, staring
biorag [birag] = small thorn or prickle, spiteful sharp-tongued woman
biorach [birəx] = pointed, sharp, piercing, prickly
bioraich [birɪç] = sharpen, make pointed, stare
Manx (Gaelg) birr, byr = point, spit
birragh, byrragh = pointed, scathing, sharp, spiky, tapered, prickly
birranagh = pointed, sharp
birraghey = to sharpen, taper, tone up
Proto-Brythonic ber = (cooking) spit
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) bêr, ber = spear, lance, pike, spit, skewer
beraid = as much as can be held on a spit
Welsh (Cymraeg) bêr [beːr] = spear, lance, pike, spit, skewer
ber(i)af, berio, beru = to spit (meat), impale, stab with a spear
beriad = as much as can be held on a spit
bergi = turnspit (dog)
bernod = dagger, obelisk
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) ber, bêr = spit, lance, spear
Cornish (Kernewek) berya = to stab, run through
Middle Breton (Brezonec) ber, bèr, bir = (roasting) spit
Breton (Brezhoneg) ber [beːr] = spindle, point, spike
beriad = pin
berian = skewer

Etymology from Proto-Indo-European *gʷéru (spit, spear) [source]. Words from the same PIE root include verrocchio (olive oil press) in Italian, verrou (bolt, lock) in French, cerrojo (bolt, latch) in Spanish [source].

Proto-Celtic *snātantā = needle (?)
*snātos = thread
Old Irish (Goídelc) snáthat = needle
snáith = thread
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) snáthat, snāthad, snathat = needle
snáithe = thread
Irish (Gaeilge) snáthaid [ˈsˠn̪ˠɑːhəd̪ˠ] = needle,
snáthadóir = needle-maker
snáth = thread, yarn, web
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) snàthad [sn̪ˠaː.əd] = needle, pointer (on a dial)
snàthadair [sn̪ˠaː.ədɪrʲ] = needle-maker
snàthadalan [sn̪ˠaː.ədəl̪ˠan] = needlecase
snàthadh [sn̪ˠaː.əɣ] = threading, stringing
snàthadag [sn̪ˠaː.ədag] = sting
snàth [sn̪ˠaː] = thread, yarn
Manx (Gaelg) snaid = needle, pointer, indicator, index
snaid whaaley = sewing needle
snaidagh = needle-like
snaidey = knit
obbyr snaidey = needlework
snaih, snaie = line, thread, yarn, worm, netting
Old Welsh (Kymraec) notuid = needle, pin
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) notwyd, nottwyd, nodwydd = needle, pin
Welsh (Cymraeg) nodwydd [ˈnɔdwɨ̞ð/ˈnɔdʊi̯ð] = needle, pin, pointer, dial
nodwyddaf, nodwyddo = to sew, stitch, inject, prick
nodwyddiad = acupuncture
nodwyddig = small needle
nodwyddwaith = needlework
nodwyddwr = needlemaker, pinmaker, sewer, stitcher, tailor
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) nadedh, nadzhedh = needle
noden = thread, yarn
Cornish (Kernewek) naswydh, najedh = needle
neusen, neujen = thread, yarn
neusenna = to thread
Middle Breton (Brezonec) nadoez, nados, nadoz = sewing needle
neut, neud = thread
Breton (Brezhoneg) nadoez [beːr] = needle, hand, pointer, spire
nadoezenn = (clock) hand
nadoezier = needle maker
neud = thread, filaments, net, algae

Etymology from Proto-Indo-European *(s)neh₁- (to spin, sew) [source]. Words from the same PIE root include needle, nerve, neuron, sinew and snood in English [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, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, English – ProtoCeltic WordList (PDF), Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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