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English words of Welsh origin

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This is a list of English language words of Welsh language origin. As with the Goidelic languages, the Brythonic tongues are close enough for possible derivations from Cumbric, Cornish or Breton in some cases.


Words that derive from Welsh

from Welsh bardd, or possibly Goidelic origin
possibly from baldorddu, which was a sweet food mixture made from flour, milk, gelatin and eggs - now known as flummery
in dialect meaning a badger, from Old British "brokkos" meaning a badger
car, cart 
both Welsh words; originally from Old Celtic karrom, karros. They came to English via Latin carrum, carrus, and hence the words carry, carrier and carriage.
crag, from craig
from corwgl
From cor, "dwarf" + gi (soft mutation of ci), "dog".
'derwydd', possibly derived from 'derw' meaning 'oak'.
The Oxford English Dictionary states that the etymology of this word is "uncertain", but that it is likely to have come from the Welsh gwlanen, "flannel". Another suggested source is Old French flaine, "blanket".
llymru [1]
from the Welsh cist (chest) and maen (stone).
Late 17th century, unknown origin, possibly Welsh moedrodd to worry or bother. Possible alternative from the Welsh meidda (“‘to beg for whey’”) or perhaps meiddio (“‘to dare or venture’”). The "dd" in Welsh corresponds in sound to the "th" in mither, and English also has moider and moither.
Possibly from pen gwyn, "white head", and originally applied to the Great Auk. A derivation from "pin-wing", in reference to the bird's atrophied wings, is sometimes suggested, but according to the OED this is unsupported. It may also be derived from Breton, which is closely related.
a slang term for vagina, may possibly derive from the Welsh word "cwm" meaning "valley."
wrasse, a kind of sea fish.
piebald or skewbald, from ceffyl bal (horse with a white streak on its face)

Words that derive from Cornish

from Cornish blugon, "mallet".
from Cornish brilli, "mackerel".
from French, from Cornish or from Breton taolvaen, taol, "table" & maen, "stone".
vug, vugg, vugh 
from Cornish vooga, "cave".

Words with indirect or possible links

  • Coombe, meaning "valley", is usually linked with the Welsh cwm, also meaning "valley". However, the OED traces both words back to an earlier Celtic word, *kumbos. It suggests a direct Old English derivation for "coombe".
  • Old Welsh origins for the topographical terms Tor (OW tŵr) and Crag (OW carreg or craig) are among a number of available Celtic derivations for the Old English antecedents to the modern terms. However, the existence of similar cognates in both the Goidelic and the remainder of the Brythonic families makes isolation of a precise origin difficult.
  • It has been suggested that crockery might derive from the Welsh crochan, as well as the Manx crocan and Gaelic crogan, meaning "pot". The OED states that this view is "undetermined". It suggests that the word derives from Old English croc, via the Icelandic krukka, meaning "an earthenware pot or pitcher".
  • Another word that is commonly thought to derive from Welsh is Dad, meaning "father". It is considered to come from the Welsh tad, which becomes dad under soft mutation. However, according to the OED, this word derives from the infantile forms dada and tata, which occur independently in many languages. It states that the Welsh tad "is itself merely a word of the same class". The OED may be incorrect, however, as notwithstanding its alleged occurrence independently it does not seem to occur in Dutch or German both languages closely related to English nor is it found in Anglo-Saxon. A possible support for the OED position occurs in the Jewish-Germanic dialect called Yiddish, which uses "Tate" for father, instead of the German word.

Welsh words used in English

English words lifted direct from Welsh, and used with original spelling (largely used either in Wales or with reference to Wales):


See also

  1. ^ Etymology of flummery covered on the A Word A Day mailing list in December 2006

See all linguistics glossaries:

Published - February 2009

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