In this episode we’re looking into words for shamrock, clover and related things in Celtic languages.
A shamrock is the trefoil leaf of any small clover, especially Trifolium repens, commonly used as a symbol of Ireland. The word comes from the Irish seamróg (shamrock), from the Old Irish semróc, a diminutive of semar (clover, shamrock), from Proto-Celtic *semarā, possibly from Proto-Indo-European *semh₁r-/*smeh₁r- [source].
Related words in the modern Celtic language include:
- seamróg [ˈʃamˠɾˠoːɡ] = shamrok and semair = clover in Irish.
- siumrag [ʃumərag] = clover, shamrock, wood sorel, and semair [ʃɛmɪrʲ] = shamrock, clover in Scottish Gaelic
- shamrag = clover, shamrock, wood sorel in Manx
- siamroc/samrog = shamrock in Welsh (borrowed from English)
Shamrock in Cornish teyrdelen (“three leaves”). In Breton it’s trefle, which was borrowed from the French trèfle (clover, shamrock); or melchonenn, which is cognate with the Cornish mellyon (clover), and the Welsh meillion (clover, trefoil, clubs (a suit in cards)). The origin of these words is not known.