Celtic Pathways – Rotten Bran

In this episode we discover the rotten Celtic roots of the English word bran, the Galician word braña (meadow, bog), and related words in other languages.

Rotten Bran

The Proto-Celtic word *bragnos means rotten. It comes from the PIE *bʰreHg- (to smell, have a strong odour) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bréan [bʲɾʲiːa̯nˠ] = foul, putrid, rotten or to pollute in Irish
  • breun [brʲeːn] = foetid, putrid, disgusting or filthy in Scottish Gaelic
  • breinn = foetid, loathsome, nasty or offensive in Manx
  • braen [braːɨ̯n] = rotten, putrid, corrupt or mouldy in Welsh
  • breyn = putrid or rotten in Cornish
  • brein [ˈbrɛ̃jn] = rotten or uncultivated in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Gaulish brennos (rotten) and the Latin *brennos, include bran in English, berner (to trick, fool, hoodwink) in French [source].

The Asturian word braña (pasture, meadowland), and Galician word braña (mire, bog, marsh, moorland) possibly also come from the same Proto-Celtic root [source].

Words from the same PIE root include flair, fragrant, and bray in English, and брага [ˈbraɡə] (home brew) in Russian [source].

More about words for Rotten and related things in Celtic languages.

You can find more connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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Celtic Pathways – Towns and Beehives

In this episode we’re finding out how words for towns and related things in Celtic languages are linked to words for beehives in other languages.


The Proto-Celtic word *trebā means dwelling, and comes from the Proto-Indo-European *treb- (dwelling, settlement) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic language include:

  • treibh [ˈtʲɾʲɛv] = house, homestead, farmstead, household, family, tribe or race in Irish.
  • treubh [treːv] = tribe, family, clan or kin, and possibly treabh [tro] = farming village in Scottish Gaelic
  • tre(f) [treː(v)] = town; town centre; dwelling(-place), habitation, residence, home; house (and surrounding land), homestead or farm in Welsh
  • tre = [trɛ:/tre:] = farmstead, home, town or village in Cornish
  • trev = town in Breton

There doesn’t appear to be a cognate word in Manx.

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root (via Latin) possibly include trobo (beehive, skep) in Galician, and truébanu (beehive, barrel, basket) in Asturian [source].

The archaic English word thorp(e) (a group of houses standing together in the country; a hamlet; a village), which appears in place names such as Milnthorpe and Scunthorpe, comes from the same PIE roots [source].

Other words from the same PIE roots include Dorf (hamlet, village, town) in German, torp (farm, cottage, croft) in Swedish, þorp (village, farm) in Icelandic, and trevë (country, region, village) in Albanian [source].

You can be find more details of words for Towns and Tribes in Celtic languages on the Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.