Celtic Pathways – Sacred Trees

In this episode we’re exploring the roots of Celtic words for tree and related things.

Llyn Padarn

One Proto-Celtic word for tree is *belyom, which comes from Proto-Indo-European *bʰolh₃yo- (leaf), from *bʰleh₃- (blossom, flower) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bile [ˈbʲɪlʲə] = (large, sacred) tree, a scion or a distinguished person in Irish.
  • bile [bilə] = mast, plough, a cluster of trees, or a sacred tree or grove in Scottish Gaelic
  • billey = tree or big bush in Manx
  • pill [pɪɬ] = (tree) trunk, stock, log, branch, pole, stake, post, fortress or stronghold in Welsh.
  • bill = trunk in Breton

In Manx billey is the usual word for tree, however words for tree have other roots in the other Celtic languages: crann (Irish), craobh (Scottish Gaelic), coeden (Welsh), gwedhen (Cornish) and gwezenn (Breton). Only the Cornish and Breton words are cognate (related).

The Proto-Celtic word *belyom became *bilia [ˈbi.liaː] (tall tree) in Gaulish, which became bille (tree trunk, railway sleeper, rolling pin) and billon (a ridge in a ploughed field) in French, and possibly billa (spigot, tap, stick) in Galician [source].

Words from the same PIE roots include folio and phyllo / fil(l)o (pastry), phyllomancy (diviniation by leaves) in English, feuille (leaf, sheet) in French, and hoja (leaf, petal, blade) in Spanish [source].

You can find more details of words for trees, wood(s) and forests 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 – Hollow

In this episode we’re delving into Celtic words for hollow and related things.

Hollows

The Proto-Celtic word *tullos means pierced, perforated or hole, and comes from Proto-Indo-European *tewk- (to push, press, beat, pierce, perforate), from *(s)tew- (to push, hit) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • toll [t̪ˠoːl̪ˠ] = hole, hollow, posterior, piereced, empty in Irish.
  • toll [tɔul̪ˠ] = hole, penetration, hole, hold (of a ship) in Scottish Gaelic
  • towl = aperture, bore, cavity, crater, hole, hollow in Manx
  • twll [tʊɬ] = hole, aperture, dimple, hollow, pit, cave, burrow, den, orifice in Welsh.
  • toll = burrow, hollow, hole, opening, orifice in Cornish
  • toull [ˈtulː] = holed, pierced, hole, entrance in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root in other languages include tollo (hole in the ground where hunters hide, puddle) in Spanish, toll (pool, puddle) in Catalan, and tol (ditch, dam) in Galician [source].

Words from the same PIE root possibly include tkát (to weave) in Czech, тъка [tɐˈkɤ] (to spin, plait, entwine, weave) in Bulgarian and tkać (to weave, stick, tuck) in Polish [source]. Also stoke in English, stoken (to poke, stoke, light a fire, stir up) in Dutch, and estoquer (to impale) in French [source]

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

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

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Celtic Pathways – Cream

In this episode we look into the Celtic roots of the word cream.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Cream comes from Middle English cre(i)me (cream, chrism [a mixture of oil and balsam]), from Old French cresme (cream), from Late Latin crāmum (cream), probably from Gaulish *crama, from Proto-Celtic *krammen (skin), from Proto-Indo-European (s)krama- [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages possibly include:

  • screamh = a deposit on surface, coating, crust, scum in Irish.
  • sgrath [sɡrah] = bark, husk, peel, skin, crust in Scottish Gaelic
  • scrooig = crust, incrustation, scab, slime, scale in Manx
  • cramen [ˈkramɛn] = scab, sore, boil, crust, layer in Welsh
  • kragh = scab in Cornish
  • kramm = grime, filth in Breton

Other words from the same Proto-Celtic root include crème (cream, cool) in French, schram (scratch, scrape, graze) in Dutch, and creme (cream [coloured]) in German.

Incidentally, the Old English word for cream was rēam [ræ͜ɑːm], which comes from Proto-Germanic *raumaz (skin, film, cream), from PIE *réwgʰmn̥ (cream). A descendent of this word, ream, is apparently still used for cream in English dialects in northern England [source], and in Scots [source].

You can find more details of words for beaks, snouts 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 – Gobs and Beaks

In this episode we look into the Celtic roots of English words like gob and beak.

Geese

The Proto-Celtic word *gobbos means muzzle, snout or beak. It comes from PIE *ǵebʰ- (jaw, mouth) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • gob [ɡɔbˠ] = beak, bill, tip, point or projection in Irish.
  • gob [ɡob] = beak, bill, gob, pointed/sharp end or corner in Scottish Gaelic
  • gob = apex, headland, hook, jet, point, promontory, beak, nib, spout, mouth or muzzle in Manx

The English word gob, which is a slang word for mouth in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, was borrowed from Irish or Scottish Gaelic. [source].

It also means a lump of soft or sticky material, saliva, phlegm and various other things, and that version of the word comes from the same Proto-Celtic roots via Middle French go(u)be (lump, mouthful), and Gaulish *gobbos (mouth) [source].

Other words from the same Proto-Celtic roots include gober (to swallow whole) and gobelet (goblet, cup, beaker) in French, and goblet in English [source].

Another Proto-Celtic word for beak or snout is *bekkos. The only descendent in the modern Celtic languages that I can find is beg (beak, mouth, point, mouthpiece, embouchure) in Breton [source].

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Gaulish *bekkos (beak, snout) and the Latin beccus (beak, bill), include bec (beak, bill, mouth) in French, beco (beak, mouthpiece, burner) in Italian, bico (beak, bill, snout, rostrum) in Portuguese, pico (beak, sharp point, pickaxe, peak, spout) in Spanish, and beak in English [source].

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

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

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Celtic Pathways – Spears and Sceptres

In this episode we find out what links the words spear and beam in Celtic languages with words for sceptre and arrow in other languages.

Romano British spearmen

The Proto-Celtic word *gaisos means spear. It comes from Proto-Germanic *gaizaz [ˈɣɑi̯.zɑz] (spear, pike, javelin), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰoysós (throwing spear), from *ǵʰey- (to throw, impel) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • ga [ɡa]= spear, dart, sting, ray (of light), radius, suppository or (fishing) gaff in Irish.
  • gath [gah] = dart, beam, ray (of light), sting, barb or shooting pain in Scottish Gaelic
  • goull = beam, dart or ray in Manx
  • gwayw [ɡweɨ̯.ʊ] = lance, spear, javelin, shooting pain, stab, stitch or pang in Welsh
  • guw = spear in Cornish
  • goaf = spear, pike, javelin or stamen in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root in other languages include gezi [ɡe̞.s̻i] (arrow) in Basque (via Latin and Gaulish), գայիսոն [ɡɑjiˈsɔn/kʰɑjiˈsɔn] (sceptre) in Armenian (via Ancient Greek), gaesum (a Gaulish javelin) in Latin, and γαῖσος [ɡâi̯.sos] (a Gaulish javelin) in Ancient Greek [source].

Words from the same Proto-Germanic root include garfish (any fish of the needlefish family Belonidae) in English [source], geer (spear) in Dutch, Ger (spear) in German, and keihäs (spear, javelin, pike) in Finnish, [source].

Incidentally, my surname, Ager, possibly comes from the same Proto-Germanic root as well, via the Old English name Ēadgār, from ēad (happiness, prosperity), and gār (spear) [source].

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

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

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Celtic Pathways – Hogging Sockets

In this episode we find out what links the words hog and socket with words for pig, ploughshare and related things in Celtic languages.

Family of Feral Hogs

The Proto-Celtic word sukkos means a pig (snout) or ploughshare, presumably because ploughshares looked like pig’s snouts. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European *súH-s (pig, hog, swine) [source]

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • soc [sˠɔk] = sow in Irish.
  • soc [sɔxg] = beak, snout, socket, ploughshare, or a short, chubby person in Scottish Gaelic
  • sock = bow, nose, snout, ploughshare, jet or nozzle in Manx
  • hwch [huːχ] = sow, pig, swine, or a dirty creature in Welsh
  • hogh = hog, pig or swine in Cornish
  • houc’h = sow in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root in other languages include socket and possibly hog in English, and soc (ploughshare) in French.

The word socket comes from the Middle English soket, from the Anglo-Norman soket (spearhead), from the Old French soc (ploughshare), from the Vulgar Latin *soccus, from the Proto-Celtic *sokkos, probably via Gaulish [source].

The word hog comes from the Middle English hog(ge) (pig, swine, pig meat, hogget [young sheep]), from the Old English hogg (hog), either the Old Norse hǫggva (to hew), or from the Proto-Brythonic *hux (pig) [source].

The English word hoggan (a pork pasty), which is used mainly in Cornwall, probably comes from the Old Cornish hoggan/hogen) (pork pasty, pie), from hoch (pig), from the Proto-Brythonic *hux (pig). The word oggy/oggie (pasty), which is used in Devon and Cornwall, and also in Wales, comes from the same roots [source].

Welsh oggies are larger than Cornish pasties and contain lamb, potatoes and leeks. Here’s a recipe.

Oggie

Incidentally, the Welsh words hogyn (boy) and hogen (girl), which are used mainly in North Wales, come from hòg (young/little boy, youth, lad, fellow), from the English hogg (young sheep or hogget), from the Middle English hogget (a boar/sheep of the second year), from Anglo-Norman hog(g)et (young boar) and an Anglo-Latin hogettus [source].

You can find more details of words for pig and related beasts on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

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Celtic Pathways – Truant

In this episode we find out what links the word truant with words for beggar, wretch and related things in Celtic and other languages.

Begging

Truant [ˈtɹʊənt/ˈtɹuː.ənt] means:

  • Absent without permission, especially from school.
  • Wandering from business or duty; straying; loitering; idle, and shirking duty
  • One who is absent without permission, especially from school.

It comes from Middle English truant/truand (one who receives alms, a begger, vagabond, vagrant, scoundrel, rogue, shiftless or good-for-nothing fellow) from Old French truand (vagabond, beggar, rogue), either from Gaulish *trugan (wretch), or from Breton truant (beggar), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *terh₁- (to rub, turn, drill, pierce) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • trua [t̪ˠɾˠuə] = pity, sympathy, compassion, miserable person or wretch in Irish.
  • truaghan [truəɣan] = poor soul, poor thing or wretch in Scottish Gaelic
  • truanagh = miserable, mournful or sorrowful person in Manx
  • truan = wretch, miserable person; wretched, miserable, pathetic, poor or weak in Welsh
  • truan = sad, miserable, unfortunate or wretched in Cornish
  • truant = beggar in Breton

Other words from the same Proto-Celtic root include truand [tʁy.ɑ̃] (crook, gangster, beggar) in French [source], truhan [tɾuˈan] (scoundrel, scammer, swindler, rogue, crook, [historically] jester, buffoon) in Spanish, truão (jester) in Portuguese, and trogo (jester) in Galician [source].

Incidentally, words for truant in Celtic languages include: fánach in Irish, air falach in Scottish Gaelic, truggan in Manx, and triwant in Welsh.

What do you call the action of playing truant?

For me its skiving (off) and when you do it, you’re a skiver.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].

You can find more details of these words on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

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Celtic Pathways – Berets

In this episode we’re uncovering the Celtic origins of the word beret.

Fête du Boeuf Gras à Bazas

A beret [ˈbɛɹ.eɪ/bəˈɹeɪ] is:

  • A type of round, brimless cap with a soft top and a headband to secure it to the head; usually culturally associated with France.

It comes from the French béret (beret), from the Occitan (Gascon) berret (cap), from the Medieval Latin birretum (a kind of hat), from the Late Latin birrus (a large hooded cloak, a cloak to keep off rain, made of silk or wool), from the Gaulish birrus (a coarse kind of thick woollen cloth; a woollen cap or hood worn over the shoulders or head), from the Proto-Celtic *birros (short), the origins of which are not known [source]

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bearr [bˠɑːɾˠ] = to clip, cut, trim, shave, skim (milk), crop or pare (photos) in Irish.
  • beàrr [baːr̪ˠ] = to shave, cut (hair), clip, shear or prune in Scottish Gaelic
  • baarey = to bare, clip, cut, dress, poll, prune, shave or trimmed in Manx
  • byr [bɨ̞r/bɪr] = short, brief or concise in Welsh
  • berr [bɛɹ] = short or brief in Cornish
  • berr = short in Breton

Other words from the Proto-Celtic root *birros, via Latin and Gaulish, include biretta (a square cap worn by some Roman Catholic priests) and berretto (beanie, cap) in Italian, barrete (biretta, cap) in Portuguese, birrete (biretta) in French, and βίρρος [ˈβir.ros] (a type of cloak or mantle) in Ancient Greek [source].

Biretta

Incidentally, words from beret in Celtic languages include: bairéad (beret, biretta, cap, hat, bonnet) in Irish, beeray or bayrn Frangagh (“French cap/hat”) in Manx, bere(t)/bered in Welsh, and béret/bered/boned in Breton.

You can find more details of these words on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

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Celtic Pathways – Top Tips

In this episode we’re looking into words for top, tip and related things in Celtic languages.

Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa

The Proto-Celtic word *barros means top, point or peak. Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • barr [bˠɑːɾˠ] = tip, point, top, summit, upper part, surface, etc in Irish.
  • bàrr [baːr̪ˠ] = apex, crest, crown, summit, tip, top, zenith, surface, etc in Scottish Gaelic
  • baare = apex, cap, climax, end, point, summit, tip, top, crest (of a wave), etc n in Manx
  • bar [bar] = head, top, summit, crest, bush, tuft or branch in Welsh
  • barr = summit in Cornish
  • barr = summit, surface, access or paroxysm in Breton [source]

Words from the same Proto-Celtic roots, via Gaulish and Latin, include baràz (bramble) in Romansh, and barra (garret, loft, upper platform) in Galician [source].

Words from the same PIE roots include barley in English, farine (flour) in French, bara (bread) in Welsh, Cornish and Breton, bairín (loaf) in Irish, and related words in Celtic languages [source].

Incidentally, the unrelated Galician word barra (sandbank, bar, rod) possibly comes from a Gaulish word, via the Vulgar Latin barra [source].

You can find more details of these words on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

Celtic Pathways – Donkeys

In this episode we’re looking into words for donkey and related beasts in Celtic languages.

Donkeys

There don’t appear to be any Proto-Celtic words for donkey. Instead, the Celtic languages borrowed words from Latin. These include:

  • asal [ˈasˠəlˠ] = ass or donkey in Irish.
  • asal [asal̪ˠ] = ass or donkey in Scottish Gaelic
  • assyl = ass or donkey in Manx
  • asyn [ˈasɨ̞n / ˈasɪn] = (male) donkey / (he-)ass, or an absurd or stubborn person in Welsh
  • asen = ass or donkey in Cornish
  • azen = donkey in Breton [source]

The Brythonic words come from the Latin asina from asinus (donkey, ass), which is of unknown origin [source]. The Goidelic words come from the same root via the Latin asellus (young ass, donkey) [source].

The English word ass (donkey) was borrowed from an old Brythonic language, via the Middle English asse (ass, donkey) and the Old English assa and assen (she-ass) [source].

Other words from the same Latin roots include asinine (foolish, obstinate, donkeyish), asinicide (the killing of an idiot) in English [source], osel (donkey, ass, stupid person) in Czech, and osioł (male donkey) in Polish [source].

Incidentally, another word for donkey in Old English was esol [ˈe.zol], which came from Proto-West Germanic *asil (donkey), from Latin asellus (young ass, donkey) [source]. Related words in other Germanic languages include ezel (donkey, ass, fool, idiot, easel) in Dutch, Esel (ass, donkey, a stupid/stubborn person) in German, and æsel (ass, donkey) in Danish [source].

The English word easel also comes from the same roots, via Dutch ezel and Proto-West Germanic *asil [source].

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

You can find more details of these words on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.