Welsh words used in English

Posted in Miscellaneous

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. 

  • Adder

originally "Nadder" derived from Welsh "Neidr" meaning a snake

  • Avon

from Welsh "afon" meaning a river

  • Bard

from Welsh "bardd", or possibly Goidelic origin

  • Booth

from Welsh "bwthyn" meaning a small cottage or house

  • Bow

from Welsh "bwa" meaning a bow or an arch

  • Brock

in dialect meaning a badger from Welsh "broch" meaning a badger

  • Coney

obsolete and dialect for a rabbit from Welsh "cwningen" meaning a rabbbit

  • Coracle

from corwgl

  • Corgi

From cor, "dwarf" + gi (soft mutation of ci), "dog".

  • Druid

'derwydd', possibly derived from 'derw' meaning 'oak'.

  • Flannel

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".

  • Flummery


  • Penguin

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.

  • Pout

from Welsh "pwdu" to pout or sulk

  • Roach

from Welsh "gwrachen" meaning a roach

  • Whelk

from Welsh "gwalc" meaning a whelk

  • Yew

yew tree, from Welsh "ywen" meaning a yew tree and providing an example of metathesis

Words with indirect or possible links

  • Coombe, meaning "valley", is usually linked with the Welsh cŵm, 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 twrr) and Crag (OW carrecc 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 occur in Dutch or German both languages closely related to English nor is it found in Anglo-Saxon.


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