Celtic Pathways – Charming Witches

In this episode we look into the possble Celtic roots of words for witch in some Romance languages.


The Proto-Celtic word *brixtā means spell, magical formula or incantation. It possibly comes from PIE *bʰerHǵ- (enlighten) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • briocht = charm, spell, amulet in Irish
  • lled(f)rith = magic, spell, charm, enchantment, apparition, spectre, phantom, illusion, delusion, fantasy, imagination in Welsh
  • bre = incantation magic in Breton

Words that probably come from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Celtiberian *bruxtia, include bruja (witch, crone, hag, owl) in Spanish, bruxa (witch, hex) in Galician, bruxa (witch) in Portuguese, and bruixa (witch) in Catalan [source].

Alternatively, bruja and similar words, might might be related to the Old Irish name Brigit [ˈbʲrʲiɣʲidʲ] (patron goddess of Druids), which comes from Proto-Celtic *Brigantī (high, elevated, an exalted person) [source].

Bragança - frozen in time│congelada en el tiempo

The city of Bragança (Braganza) in northern Portugal gets its name from the same Celtic roots, as do the Welsh words brenin (king, monarch, sovereign) and braint (privilege) [source].

More about words for Magic and Spells 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.

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.

The Fastest Way to Learn Japanese Guaranteed with JapanesePod101.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *