The top 10 best words in the Welsh language
We always knew that the Welsh language was precious. But this week has proven it as a company trademarked the words ‘cariad’ and ‘hiraeth’ – much to the annoyance of Welsh speakers.
But if you were to put a price on Welsh words, which ones would be the most valuable?
The Welsh language has hundreds of thousands of excellent words, but here are ten that are up there with the best.
Bochdew translates as hamster. It may not sound like anything spectacular, until you know that boch + dew means ‘FAT CHEEKS’!
Yes, the Welsh word for a hamster is a fat-cheek. If you didn’t know this, you’re welcome.
Some words are just extremely satisfying to say. Pen-dwmp-ian is the word for when you’re starting to nod off to sleep.
‘Head-bobbing’ perfectly describes how someone’s head will rise and fall up and down before finally giving in to the land of nod.
This is the Welsh word for Catherine’s Wheel – the fiery, spinning firework you will most often see on a Guy Fawkes Night. It can also describe almost anything that’s spinning around, like a merry-go-round.
Chwyr-li-gw-gan is a word that’s extremely satisfying to say, and seems to have a kinetic energy all of its own. It always ranks highly when Welsh speakers are asked for the favourite word.
An owl. It’s an excellent word because the sound it makes – ‘goody-hooooo!’ – is also very close to the sound an owl itself makes.
There’s another Welsh word for owl, tylluan, that’s a little less onomatopoeic but also very beautiful.
It’s a little unclear whether this is just one Welsh word because of the hyphens in it, but it certainly comes out as one.
‘Ych-a-fi’ is essentially an exclamation that means ‘disgusting!’
It’s extremely useful when warning toddlers not to touch things and one of the first words a Welsh-speaking child will learn.
The ‘ch’ sound in ‘ych’ quite powerfully conveys that sense of utter repulsion.
Like ‘ych-a-fi’, this word really conveys a sense of disgust.
‘Slee-bog’ means someone dirty or somehow repulsive. A friend who has gone into ‘goblin mode’ perhaps.
As well as conveying beauty, the Welsh language can sound harsh when it wants to!
You can find a full top 12 list of Welsh language insults here.
A word that very much sounds like the sound it makes. ‘Sws’ (pronounced soos) means ‘kiss’ and is very evocative of the sound made when someone plants a little peck on your cheek.
It’s just a cute little word in general, and so best used for the more platonic smooching.
It’s another word that just sounds great to say, which is apt because ‘bendigedig’ means ‘fantastic’. It’s one of those Welsh words that just tumbles out.
If you really want to emphasize how fantastic things are you can add a swear word in there: ‘Ben-di-blydi-gedig!’
This is the Welsh word for squash, but quite frankly is much better.
The ball in a game of squash doesn’t make a ‘squash’ sound, it makes a ‘bonk’ sound.
So ‘sbonk-en’ it is.
Like Benidgedig, Pendwmpian and Chwyrligwgan, this is just one of those words that are so satisfying to say.
Pendramwnwgl means to tumble over headlong in a particularly dramatic way. If someone fell down the stairs they would fall ‘pen-dra-mwn-wgl’.
JRR Tolkien based the Sindarin language of the elves in the Lord of the Rings on the sound of the Welsh language. It was apparently seeing the word ‘adeiladwyd’ on a stone slab that he says ‘piereced his linguistc heart’.
Pen-dra-mwnw-gl very much has that same rhythm!
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