How Many Celtic Words Are There In English?


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The Celtic languages were almost entirely wiped out in most of England between the 6th and 8th centuries, and replaced by the Germanic languages of the Saxon and other invaders.

In his book "The Adventure of English," Melvyn Bragg estimates that no more than about 25 Celtic words became part of the "new" language. Most of these are words to do with places or landscape features such as "tor" for hilltop, and "crag" for a jutting rock. Several major rivers also kept their Celtic names, such as the Thames, Wye and Esk. (Afon is actually the Welsh word for river, which is how the Avon got its name.) London itself is based on a Celtic word, as is Dover. Also, a few dialect words still in use today are of Celtic origin, such as "brock" for badger.

Generally , though, the old languages were driven into Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall, where they survived as Welsh, Gaelic and Cornish.

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