A Bit of Bitterness

Words for bitter, sour and related things in Celtic languages.

A pint at Cafe Cargo

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Proto-Celtic *swerwos = bitter
Old Irish (Goídelc) serb [sʲerv] = bitter, bitterness
serbae = bitterness
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) serb = bitter, hurtful, grievous, disagreeable, harsh, discordant
serbae, seirbe = bitterness, asperity
Irish (Gaeilge) searbh [ˈʃaɾˠəvˠ / ˈʃarˠu(ː)] = bitter, sour, acid
searbhaigh = to sour, embitter, become bitter
searbhán = bitter person, bitter herb, bitters
searbhánta = bitter, acrid
searbhas = bitterness, sourness, acidity
searbhasach = bitter, acrimonious
searbhóg = bitter person, bitter woman, bitter drink
searbhú = embitterment
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) searbh [ʃɛrɛv] = bitter, sour, tart, disagreeable, acidic
searbh-chainnt = sarcasm
searbh-ghlòr = cacophony
searbh-nhilis = bitter-sweet
duine searbh = disagreeable person
fion searbh geal = dry white wine
leann searbh = bitter (ale)
’s searbh an fhirinn = the truth hurts
Manx (Gaelg) sharroo = acid, acrid, acrimonious, bitter, cutting, embittered, sardonic, sour, tart, unpalatable, vitriolic
sharrooaghey = to embitter
sharrooane = bitters
sharrooid = bitterness
lhune sharroo = bitter (ale/beer)
Proto-Brythonic *hwerw = bitter
Middle Welsh (Kymraec) chuerv, chuerw, chwerw, chuero, chỽerw = bitter, acrid, painful, harsh
chwerwy, cwherwa = to become bitter, be displeased
chwerwder, chweruder = bitterness, sourness, acerbity
chwerwed, chỽerỽed = bitterness, sourness, acerbity, sharpness, tartness
Welsh (Cymraeg) chwerw [ˈχwɛru/ˈχweːru] = bitter, acrid, painful, harsh, rough, severe, sharp, surly, hurtful, angry, irate, spiteful, cross, cruel, sorrowful
chwerwaf, chwerwi = to become bitter, be displeased
chwerwaidd = bitter, sharp
chwerwder = bitterness, sourness, acerbity
chwerwedd = bitterness, sourness, acerbity, sharpness, tartness
Middle Cornish (Cernewec) chuero, wherow = bitter, cruel, hardhearted
Cornish (Kernewek) hwerow = bitter, harsh, sharp
hwerowder = acrimony
Old Breton (Brethonoc) hueru = bitter
Middle Breton (Brezonec) hueru, fero, huerhue = bitter
hueruentez = bitterness
Breton (Brezhoneg) c’hwerv [χwɛʁw] = bitter
c’hwervaat = to make or become bitter
c’hwervded, c’hwervder, c’hwerventez, c’hwervoni = bitterness

Etymology from Proto-Indo-European *swer- (to ache, to fester, wound, injury). Words from the same root include sword in English, chwarren (gland, knot in wood, boil, ulcer) in Welsh, zweren (to swear, pledge, declare under oath) in Dutch, and schwären (to fester, hurt, suppurate) in German [source].

Proto-Celtic *gʷereti, gʷorti- = bitter
Old Irish (Goídelc) goirt [ɡor͈ʲtʲ] = bitter, salty
Middle Irish (Gaoidhealg) goirt = hungry, starved, bitter, sour, salt, sharp, keen
Irish (Gaeilge) goirt [ɡʌɾˠtʲ / ɡɔɾˠtʲ] = salt, saline, salted, bitter
goirte = saltiness, salinity, brackishness, bitterness
goirteamas = saltiness, bitterness, salt food
goirtigh = to salt, pickle
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) goirt [gɔr̪ˠʃdʲ] = sore, painful, sour, salted
goirteas [gɔr̪ˠʃdʲəs] = pain, ache, painfulness
goirtear [gɔr̪ˠʃdʲər] = miser, mean/stingy person
goirte [gɔr̪ˠʃdʲə] = soreness, painfulness, sourness, acerbity, saltiness
goirteachadh [gɔr̪ˠʃdʲəxəɣ] = hurting, afflicting, acidifying, making sour, leavening
Manx (Gaelg) gort = acid, bitter, brackish, rank, vinegarish, vinegary, sour, hurt, poignant, acrid, acrimony
gortaghey = hurt, hurting, maim, pain
gortagh = beggarly, frugal, grudging, hurt, meagre, miser

Etymology from Proto-Indo-European *gʷorti-, from *gʷʰer- (warm, hot). Words from the same root include barmy, furnace, gore, thermal and warm in English, and garstig (rude, nasty, beastly, foul) in German [source].

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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, Dictionaire Favereau, TermOfis, English – ProtoCeltic WordList (PDF), Etymological Dictionary Of Proto Celtic

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