Old Welsh words that survived into English

Anglo-saxon (Germanic), Norman and Danish words dominate the language we know as ‘English’ but there are a number of ‘Welsh’ words that survived through to modern English.

‘Wales’ itself gets no points because it’s not a Welsh word (it’s a Anglo-saxon phrase) but ‘Cymru’ has endured for far longer than any of the Anglo-saxon words.

‘Avon’ used commonly to describe a river in English comes from the Welsh afon

The word ‘bard’ applied to a singer or a poet like Shakespeare comes from the Welsh word for storyteller/poet bard.

The archaeological phrase ‘cromlech’ comes from the Welsh crom llech (crooked stone)

One that surprised me was ‘dad’ – it comes from the Welsh Tad (meaning father). Interestingly the old English word for the person who sired you was Faeder. But ‘Dad’ has made it into the very common English vernacular as an intimate form of ‘father’.

Eisteddfod is the least English word to have survived into English. It comes directly from the Welsh and literally means ‘seated be’ (sedd = seat, bod = be). In the earliest year of Welsh society, the people of Cymry came together to share stories, poems and hear songs from bards and they all sat around a fire and listened to the songs. Today, Eisteddfod is an annual celebration of music and storytelling.

‘Flannel’ is believed to come from the Welsh gwlanen (meaning ‘little wool’) is likely. The original word was ‘flannen’.

‘Penguin’ – Believed to have originally applied to the great auk (which had white on its head). From the Welsh Pen (head) and gwyn (white)

‘Crockery’ – from the Welsh crochan (pot)

‘Gob’ – This one has endured from the Brythonic gobbos (mouth, lump, mouthful)

‘Crumpet’ – Welsh crempog (little hearth cake)

‘Druid’ – Welsh derwydd (previously derwijes = ‘true knowledge’ or ‘they who know the oak’)

‘Gull’ – Gwylan

‘Iron’ – come from old Welsh hearn to describe the metal

England – from the Welsh Englyn