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Spanish words of Celtic origin

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This is a list of Spanish words of Celtic origin. It is further divided into words that are known (or thought) to have come from Gaulish and those that have come from an undetermined Celtic source. Some of these words existed in Latin as loanwords from a Celtic source. Some of these words have alternate etymologies and may also appear on a list of Spanish words from a different language. Any form with an asterisk (*) is unattested and therefore hypothetical.




  • abedul= a birch tree: Gallo-Latin betulla, diminutive of Gaulish betuā "birch" (akin to Old Irish bethe, Irish/Scottish beith, Manx beih, Welsh bedw, Breton bezv), from *bitu "pitch, resin" (akin to Old Irish bí, bíde "pitch", Irish bigh, Scottish bìth "resin, gum, birdlime").
    • The a of abedul is by the influence of Spanish abeto "fir tree."
  • abomaso= abomasum: from Modern Latin abomasum (first used in English in 1706) from Latin ab- + omasum "intestine of an ox," possibly from Gaulish.
  • acarrear= to cart, to transport: from a- + carro (see carro below) + the verbal infinitive suffix -ar.
  • álamo "poplar"; akin to Irish leamhán "elm", Welsh llwyf, Cornish elowen, Breton elv "poplar"
  • Old Spanish aloa, Spanish alondra "lark", from Gaulish alauda "crest lark"
  • ambuesta, from Gaulish ambibascia "around the bundle"; cf. MIr basc "neckband", W beich "load"
  • Old Spanish arapende "arpent"; akin to Old Irish airchenn "end, extremity", Welsh arbenn "chief", erbyn "against"
  • barro "mud"; akin to Middle Irish broch "garbage", Welsh barros "bush"
  • beleño "henbane"; akin to Welsh bela "henbane", Old Irish béal "sun"
  • belga= of Belgium, a Belgian: from Latin Belga, singular of Belgae, from Gaulish Belgae, possibly meaning "the threatening (ones), the swollen (ones)," the IE root (*)bhelgh-, extension of (*)bhel- "to swell" [1].
  • berro "watercress"; akin to Welsh berwr, Breton/Cornish beler, Old Irish birar, Irish biolar, Scottish biolaire
  • berrueco "granite crag, nodule", from ver "over" and rocca "rock"
  • breña "scrubland; highland forest", from *brigna, from briga "fortress"; akin to Middle Irish brí, g. brig "mountain", Scottish breaghe "fortified hill", Welsh bre "hill", bryn "id", Breton bre "hill", bern "brooch, prickles"
  • brezo "heather"; akin to Welsh grug, Cornish grig, Middle Breton groegan, Old Irish froech, Irish fraoch
  • brujo "sorceror", bruja "witch" (also Port bruxa, Catal bruixa); akin to Middle Welsh brith-ron "magic wand", Breton bre "witch, magic", breoù "spells, charms", Old Irish brigim "to light up, illuminate", Brigit "shining one".
  • brusco is from Italian brusco "sharp, tart, rough" and has two possible etymologies:
    • either it is akin to Welsh brysg "nimble, lively", Irish/Scottish briosg "to be surprised, to jump for joy"
    • or it is from Medieval Latin bruscus "butcher's broom plant", a blend of Latin ruscus "butcher's broom" and Late Latin brucus "heather"
  • bustar "cow pasture", from Celt-Iberian boustom "byre, cowshed"
  • cargar= to load, to charge, to charge with a crime, to carry: from Late Latin carricare "to load," from carrus, see carro below.
  • carril= a highway lane: from carro, see carro below.
  • carro= cart, cartload, car, streetcar, coach: from Latin carrus from Gaulish carros, from the IE root (*)kers- "to run" [2].
  • correa, from Gallo-Latin corrigia "strap"; akin to Old Irish cuimrech "fetter", Scottish cuibhreach "bond, chain", Welsh cyfrwy "saddle", Middle Welsh kyfreieu "leashes", Breton kevre "link, bond"
  • corro "circle"; akin to Middle Irish cor "circle", corrán "sickle"
  • cueto "hillock"; cf. Catalan cot "hill", akin to Gaulish cotto "hillock, curved, humpbacked", Old Cornish coth "old", Breton coz "id"
  • engorar "to addle"; akin to Welsh angad "clutch, hand", crafanc "claw", Old Irish écath "fish hook"
  • garra "claw, talon"; akin to Welsh gar "leg", Corn/Bret garr "leg, stalk, stem", Old Irish gairri "calves of the leg", Ir cara
  • greña; akin to Old Irish grend "beard", Irish greann, Welsh grann "eyelid", Breton gourenn
  • gubia; akin to Old Irish gulba "sting", Scottish gilb "chisel", Old Welsh gilb "piercer", Welsh gylf "beak", Old Breton golb "beak", Breton golv "tailess"
  • legua "league"; akin to Old Irish lía (gen. líacc) "stone", Welsh llech "slate", Breton lec'h "pebble"
  • lía, légamo; akin to Old Irish lige "bed", Irish luige, Welsh lle "room", Old Breton lech "bed", Breton lec'h "site, place"; liga "bed" > "bedrock" > "sediment"
  • quejigo, from earlier cajigo, from Aragonese caxico, caixico "oak"; akin to Middle Irish cas "curly, gnarled", cassaim "to bend", Irish cas "to twist, turn, spin", Old Welsh cascord, Welsh cosgordd "twist"
  • sábalo "shad"; akin to Old Irish sam "summer", Welsh haf, Breton hañv, Cornish hav, with typical Celtic m > b lenition
  • sabueso (also Port sabuja, Ital segugio, Old Fr seüz); akin to Old Irish sechim "I follow", Irish seach "to follow", Middle Welsh -hei "seeker" (cf. cardotei "beggar"), Old Breton -heiat "searcher, gatherer" (cf. cnouheiat "nut gatherer")
  • saya; akin to Middle Irish sén "snare", semmen "rivet", Welsh hoenyn "snare", hemin "rivet"
  • soga; akin to Welsh syg "chain", Breton sug "harness trace", Irish suag "rope", Scottish sùgan "straw rope"
  • taladro; akin to Welsh taradr "drill", Irish tarachair, Breton tarar, Old Cornish tarater
  • tejon "badger"; akin to Old Irish tadg "badger", Scottish taghan "marten"
  • tollo "mire, muddy place"; akin to Irish toll "hole", Welsh twll, Breton toull
  • tona; akin to Old Irish tonn "skin, surface", Irish tonn "hide, skin", Welsh ton "skin", Cornish ton "surface", Breton tonnen "rind, surface"
  • tranca "club, cudgel"; akin to Old Irish tairinge "iron nail, tine", Irish tairne "metal nail", Scottish tairnge "nail"
  • truhán; akin to Old Irish tróg "miserable", Irish trogha, Scottish truagh, Welsh tru "wretched", Breton truc "beggar", Cornnish troc "miser; wretched"


See also


  • "Breve diccionario etimológico de la lengua española" by Guido Gómez de Silva (ISBN 968-16-2812-8)
  • "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language": Fourth Edition. 2000.

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Published - February 2009

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