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.


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.

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