Words for deer in Celtic languages. There were several different words for deer in Proto-Celtic: *wēdus, *karwos, *ellan(t)ī-, *danī- and *yorkos, and also *sidos (stag). They may have referred to different types of deer, but it is not certain which types, apart from *yorkos, which is a roe deer.


Proto-Celtic *wēdus [ˈweː.dus] = wild
Old Irish (Goídelc) fíad [fʲiːa̯ð] = wild animals, game, especially deer
Irish (Gaeilge) fia [fʲiə] = deer
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) fiadh [fiəɣ] = deer
Manx (Gaelg) feeaih = deer

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *weydʰ- (wood, wilderness) [source].

Proto-Celtic *karwos = deer, stag
Gaulish caruus / carvos = deer
Old Irish (Goídelc) carbh = deer
Irish (Gaeilge) carria / cairrfhiadh = deer, stag
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) cair-fhiadh / carbh-fheadh = hart, stag
Manx (Gaelg) çharroo = stag
Proto-Brythonic *karw = deer, stag
Old Welsh *caru = deer
Middle Welsh (kymraec) caru, carv, carw = deer, hart, stag
Welsh (Cymraeg) carw [ˈkaru / ˈkaːru] = deer, hart, stag; lord, nobleman, patron
Old Cornish caruu = stag
Middle Cornish carow = stag
Cornish (Kernewek) karow = stag
Middle Breton caro, qaro = deer
Breton (Brezhoneg) karv = deer

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *ḱerh₂wós, from *ḱerh₂- (horn) [source].

Proto-Celtic *sidos = stag
Old Irish (Goídelc) séd = deer
Welsh (Cymraeg) hydd = stag, hart
Breton (Brezhoneg) heizes = roe-deer, venison, intrepid boy

Etymology: uncertain

Proto-Celtic *ellan(t)ī- / *agliones = deer
Old Irish (Goídelc) ag [aɣ] = bullock, cow, ox; deer, stag
Irish (Gaeilge) agh = cow, ox
agh alla = deer
Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) agh [ɤɣ] = heifer, hind
Welsh (Cymraeg) eilon/eilion = stag, hart

Etymology: possible from the same root as the English word eland (a type of antelope found in South Africa), which from the Dutch eland (elk), from the Old High German elent.

Proto-Celtic *ou̯ījkā = ?
Gaulish cerua = ?
Old Cornish euhic = hind, deer
Old Welsh eguic = hind, deer
Welsh (Cymraeg) ewig = hind, doe, roe; graceful light-footed woman; deer, hart

Etymology: possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *h₂ówis (sheep) [source]

Proto-Celtic *yorkos = roebuck, deer
Gaulish iorkos = deer
Proto-Brythonic *jorx = deer, stag
Welsh (Cymraeg) iwrch [jʊrχ] = roe-deer, roebuck
Old Cornish yorch = roe-deer
Cornish (Kernewek) yorgh = roe-deer
Old Breton iorch = roe-deer
Breton (Brezhoneg) yourc’h = roe-deer, venison, intrepid boy

Etymology: from the Proto-Indo-European *york- (antelope, gazelle) [source].

Proto-Celtic *danī- = deer
Welsh (Cymraeg) danas = deer, fallow deer
Breton (Brezhoneg) demm = deer, fallow deer

Etymology: related to the French daim (hind, doe), from the Latin dāma (fallow deer, buck, doe) [source]

Words marked with a * are reconstructions.

Sources: Wiktionary, Am Faclair Beag, MacBain’s Dictionary, In Dúil Bélrai English – Old-Irish Glossary,, On-Line Manx Dictionary, Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, Gerlyver Kernewek, Dictionnaire Favereau