Celtic Pathways – Needles and Scythes

In this episode we discover Romance scythes in a stack of Celtic pins and needles.

Pins and Needles

The Proto-Celtic word *delgos means pin or needle. It comes from Proto-Indo-European *dʰelg- (sting) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • dealg [ˈdʲal̪ˠəɡ] = thorn, prickle, spine, spike, pin, peg or brooch in Irish
  • dealg [dʲal̪ˠag] = pin, skewer or knitting needle in Scottish Gaelic
  • jialg = needle, prick, quill, thorn or pin in Manx
  • dala [ˈdala] = sting or bite in Welsh

Words from the same Proto-Celtic roots, 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 Celtic roots [source].

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

More about words for Pins and Needles 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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Adventures in Etymology – Quagmire

In this Adventure in Etymology we’re looking into the origins of the word quagmire.

quagmire

A quagmire [ˈkwɒɡ.maɪər/ˈkwæɡ.maɪr] is:

  • A swampy, soggy area of ground.
  • A perilous, mixed up and troubled situation; a hopeless tangle.
  • To embroil (a person, etc.) in complexity or difficulty.

The quag part is an obsolete English word meaning quagmire, marsh or bog, from Middle English quabbe (marsh, bog), from Old English cwabba (that which shakes or trembles, something soft and flabby) [source].

The mire part comes from Middle English mire (marshy or swampy land), from Old Norse mýrr (moor, swamp, bog), from Proto-Germanic *miuzijō (bog, swamp, moor), from PIE *mews-yeh₂, from *mews- (moss) [source].

The English word quaggy/quoggy (marshy, soft, flabby) is related to quag, and the Dutch words kwab (a weak, blubbery mass), kwebbelen (to chatter) come and kwebbelkous (chatterbox) from the same roots [source].

Words from the same roots as mire include moss and mousse and moist in English, mos (moss, lichen) in Dutch, Moos (moss, bog, fen, marsh) in German, and mýri (marsh, swamp, bog) in Icelandic [source].

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

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Adventures in Etymology – Ghost

In this adventure we’re uncovering the origins of the word ghost.

Ghosts

A ghost is:

  • The disembodied soul; the soul or spirit of a deceased person; a spirit appearing after death
  • Any faint shadowy semblance; an unsubstantial image.

It comes from Middle English gost (angel, devil, spirit, the Holy Ghost), from Old English gāst [ɡɑːst] (spirit, ghost, breath, demon), from Proto-West-Germanic *gaist (ghost, spirit), from Proto-Germanic *gaistaz (terror, fear, spirit, ghost, mind), from PIE *ǵʰéysd-os, from *ǵʰeysd- (anger, agitation) [source].

Words from the same roots include geisa (to rage, storm) in Icelandic, gast (ghost) in Swedish, geest (ghost spirit, mind) in Dutch and ghastly and poltergeist in English, [source].

Incidentally, the h in ghost mysteriously materialised, a bit like a ghost, in the Prologue to William Caxton’s Royal Book, printed in 1484, in a reference to the ‘Holy Ghoost’. It was probably his assistant, Wynkyn de Worde, who was responsible, and who was influenced by Flemish word gheest (ghost) [source].

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I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

Celtic Pathways – Protruberances

In this episode we’re looking at Celtic words for hill and breast and related things.

Snowdonia in the sun

A Proto-Celtic word for hill is *brusnyos, which comes from Proto-Celtic *brusū (belly, abdomen, breast), possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰrews- (belly, to swell) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • broinne = breast, bosom, brink, verge in Irish.
  • broinne [brɤin̪ʲ] = belly, stomach, womb, bulge in Scottish Gaelic
  • brein = big, great, grand, heavy, tall in Manx
  • bron [brɔn] = breast, bosom, thorax, hill-side, slope in Welsh
  • bronn [brɔn] = breast, hill in Cornish
  • bronn [brɔ̃n] = breast in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Proto-West-Germanic *brunnjā (chainmail shirt), include: brynja (coat of mail) in Icelandic, Swedish and Faroese, brynje (mail, armour) in Danish, brynje (coat of armour, protective clothing for motorcyclists) in Norwegian, and броня [brɔˈnʲa] (armour, armoured vehicle, shell) in Ukrainian [source].

The English words breast, brisket and bruise come from the same PIE root, as do borst (chest, thorax, breast) in Dutch, and bröst (breast, chest, thorax) in Swedish [source].

You can find more details of words for Hills and related things 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 – Great Big

In this episode we’re looking at Celtic words for great and big and related things.

Wood of Chestnut trees

A Proto-Celtic word for big and great is *māros, which comes from Proto-Indo-European *moh₁ros (great), or mērós (great, considerable, sizeable, impressive), both of which come from *meh₁- (to measure) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • mór [mˠoːɾˠ] = big, great, large in Irish.
  • mòr [moːr] = big, great, large, grand in Scottish Gaelic
  • mooar [muːr] = big, great, grand, heavy, tall in Manx
  • mawr [mau̯r] = large, big; fully grown in Welsh
  • meur [mø:r] = great, grand, large, substantial in Cornish
  • meur [møʁ] = big, many in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root, via Byzantine Greek μάραον (máraon – sweet chestnut), possibly include marrone (brown, chestnut) in Italian, marron (chestnut, brown) in French, and Morone (sweet chestnut) in German [source].

How did a word meaning big in Proto-Celtic come to refer to chestnuts in other languages? Possibly because the edible seeds (chestnuts) of the sweet chestnut tree (Castanea sativa) are relatively large.

Words from the same PIE roots include immense, meal, measure, meter / metre, metronome and probably moon and month in English, vermaren (to make famous) and maal (meal, time, turn) in Dutch, and mærð (flattery, praise) in Icelandic [source].

You can find more details of words for Big, Large & Great and related things on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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Adventures in Etymology – Weird

In this adventure we’re unwinding the origins of the word weird.

weird sisters

As an adjective weird means:

  • Having an unusually strange character or behaviour.
  • Deviating from the normal; bizarre.
  • Of or pertaining to the Fates (archaic)
  • Connected with fate or destiny; able to influence fate (archaic)
  • Having supernatural or preternatural power (archaic)

As a noun weird means:

  • Weirdness
  • A prediction
  • That which comes to pass; a fact
  • Fate; destiny; luck (archaic)

As a verb weird means:

  • To destine; doom; change by witchcraft or sorcery.
  • To warn solemnly; adjure.

It comes from Middle English werd (fate, destiny), from Old English wyrd (fate), from Proto-West-Germanic *wurdi (fate, destiny), from Proto-Germanic *wurdiz (fate, destiny), from PIE *wert- (to turn) [source].

By the 16th century weird was obsolete in English, though it contained to be used in Scots. It was reintroduced to English by Shakespeare, who called the three witches in Macbeth the Weird Sisters.

In Scots weird means fate, fortune or destiny, and various other things, and tae dree your weird means to follow your destiny, to make what you can of your lot, or to suffer the consequences of your action [source].

Words from the same roots as weird include retain, verse, vortex and worth in English, Wert (value, worth) in German, gwerth (value, worth) in Welsh, worden (to become, get, grow, turn) in Dutch, and verða (to become, have to, must) in Icelandic [source].

I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

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Adventures in Etymology – Caboodle

In this Adventure we’re looking into the word caboodle.

Kits and Kaboodle-001

A caboodle (also written kaboodle) is:

  • Any large collection of things or people.

It appears in the US slang expressions the (whole) kit and caboodle and the whole caboodle and means “everything entirely; the whole lot; all together; as one” It first appeared in writing in the 1830s as the whole boodle, and as the whole caboodle in 1848 [source].

Caboodle/kaboodle comes from boodle,which originally meant a crowd, and later phony money or swag, from Dutch boedel [ˈbu.dəl] (property, riches), from Proto-West-Germanic bōþl (house, dwelling, property), from Proto-Germanic *bōþlą [ˈbɔːθ.lɑ̃] (house, dwelling), possibly from PIE *bʰuH- (to become, appear, grow) [source]

Words from the same roots include baile (home, place, town, city) in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, balley (town, village, farm) in Manx, ból (dwelling, abode, home, lair, bed) in Icelandic, and bosky (bushy, bristling) in English [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].

I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

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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.

Trefor

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.

Celtic Pathways – Bulls

In this episode we’re looking into bulls and related beasts.

What a load of bull

The Proto-Celtic word *tarwos means bull, and comes from the Proto-Indo-European *táwros (wild bull, aurochs), which possibly comes from or was borrowed into Proto-Semtic as *ṯawr- (bull, ox), from which we get ثَوْر (ṯawr – bull, steer, ox, Taurus) in Arabic [Source].

Related words in Celtic language include:

  • tarbh [ˈt̪ˠaɾˠuː] = bull or Taurus in Irish
  • tarbh [tarav] = bull in Scottish Gaelic
  • tarroo = bull in Manx
  • tarw [ˈtaru] = bull, uncastrated male ox, papal bull or Taurus in Welsh
  • tarow = bull in Cornish
  • tarv = bull in Breton

The Old Irish Irish word for bull, tarb [tarv], was borrowed into Old Norse as tarfr, which became tarvur (bull, Taurus, womanizer) in Faroese, and tarfur (bull) in Icelandic [Source].

Words from the same PIE root include Taurus and steer in English, taureau (bull, Taurus) in French, toro (bull) in Spanish, and touro (bull) in Portuguese [Source].

You can be find more details of words for bulls and other cattle 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.

Celtic Pathways – Swans

In this episode we are looking into words for swan.

Swans, etc

In Proto-Celtic word for swan was *eli-, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁el- (swan, bird, waterfowl) [Source].

Related words in modern Celtic language include:

  • eala [ˈalˠə] = swan in Irish
  • eala [jal̪ˠə] = swan in Scottish Gaelic
  • olla(y) = (mute) swan in Manx
  • alarch [ˈalarχ/ˈaːlarχ] = swan, the constellation Cygnus in Welsh
  • alargh = (mute) swan in Cornish
  • alarc’h = swan in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root include alondra (lark) in Spanish, alouette (lark) in French, and allodola (skylark) in Italian. They were probably borrowed from the Gaulish alauda (skylark), from ala (swan) [Source].

Other words from the PIE root *h₁el- include auk in English, olor (swan) in Latin, alke (auk) in Danish and Norwegian, and álka (razorbill) in Faroese and Icelandic [Source].

More details of words for swan in Celtic languages can be found 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.