The meaning of Welsh names

From Festipedia, hosted by the FR Heritage Group

Welsh words which appear as names on the F.R. (not an exhaustive list)

Firstly a few words of explanation.

It should be remembered that under certain circumstances Welsh words can mutate; i.e. the initial consonant can change to another specific letter. There are actually 3 types of mutation in the language, but only the soft mutation need be considered here.

The most common causes of soft mutation in place names are;

  • in a compound word (two words put together) the second will invariably mutate.

Many place names consist of several words (e.g. Tanygrisiau, Glan-y-pwll) but the hyphen is not actually native to Welsh - it was introduced by the English in order to make pronunciation easier.

  • feminine nouns mutate after 'y' (the). NB - The "y" may subsequently have been dropped, but often the mutation remains, e.g. (y) Fron Goch, (y) Dduallt
  • a feminine noun will cause a subsequent adjective to mutate
  • where an adjective comes before a noun (more common historically) it will invariably cause a mutation.

For information, the 9 letters which soft mutate are as follows –

b > f     c > g     d > dd     g > _    ll > l     m > f     p > b     rh > r     t > d
Welsh English
a and
afon river
allt / gallt hill
bach / fach small, (in place names) Minor
bagl shepherd’s crook, crutch
beudy cowshed
blaenau high inaccessible place*
bleiddiau wolves
bod in place names: residence of, place of
bron small rounded hill, breast
bryn hill
buarth farmyard
budr dirty
bugail shepherd
bwlch pass,gap
cae field, enclosure
capel chapel
carnedd cairn, tumulus
cei quay, embankment
cefn ridge, back
cigfran / gigfran raven
coch / goch red
coed wood
corn handle, horn
craig rock
creuau hollows
croesffordd crossroads
cryddion cobblers, shoemakers
cwm narrow valley
cysgfa sleeping place (from cysgu ”to sleep”)
dau / dwy / deu two
duffws (diffws etc.) steep slope
dinas (male noun) fort, fortified place
dinas (female noun) city
dol meadow
du / ddu black
dyffryn wider valley
ewig (> wiog) hind
fali valley (loanword)
ffestin, ffestiniog fortification, fortifications
fry above
ffatri factory
ffordd road
ffridd upland pasture
gallt / allt hill
gatiau gates
gelli grove
glan bank, shore
grisiau steps, stairs
gweithdy workshop
gwlyb wet
gwyn white
hafod summer dwelling
hen old
isaf lower
llan originally church enclosure, now more like parish
llechwedd hillside, slope
lloc fold, pen
llwyd (anglicised lloyd) grey
llyn lake
maen stone
Mair Mary
mawr / fawr big, (in place names) Major
melyn yellow
min edge, lip
moel bare hill
môr sea
naddu to hew
newydd new
nyth nest
offeryn (offeren) tool, instrument
pant / bant hollow
pen top, head, end
penrhyn headland, promontory
picyn noggin, pail
plas large house, mansion
pont / bont bridge
porth harbour, gateway
pwll pool, pit
rhediad slope, gradient
rhedyn bracken
rhiw hill, slope, bank
rhos moor, heath
rhyn hill
tafarn pub
tan under
traeth beach
tro bend, curve
trwyn nose, headland
uchaf upper
uffern hell
y / yr / ’r the
ychain oxen
ynys island
ystradau high wide valleys

* Traditionally the meaning of "Blaenau Ffestiniog" has been given as "heads of Ffestiniog". "Blaen" has various meanings, including "front/point/end/head" but can also mean "source", as in Blaenrhondda & Blaenrheidol. In its plural form, however, it is used to mean a "high inaccessible place", as also in Blaenau Gwent. (source: Geiriadur Gomer)

(feel free to add more, just the Welsh if 
 preferred, and we'll translate it)

See also[edit]