Glossary of Welsh place name elements

Many Welsh place names refer to the landscape. Consequently, understanding the name may give a some insight with regard to the location or surroundings.

This list is not exhaustive. Note that the Welsh words have been sorted in English alphabetical order for the convenience of English language readers. Also, because in Welsh certain initial letters mutate in particular grammatical circumstances, words which occur in their mutated form (or in anglisizations) in place names are included in that form, cross referenced to their un-mutated form.

abern. estuary, confluence
afonn. river
alltn. hillside
bacha. small
boethsee poeth
bwlchn. gap, pass or notch (e.g. between peaks)
caen. field
caleda. hard
cama. broken, crooked
canola. middle
capeln. chapel
cefnn. back, ridge
celln. (monk’s) cell
clawddn. ditch, pit, mine
coedn. wood
craign. rock, crag
crafn. garlic
cwmn. (glaciated) valley c.f. corrie (Scotland)
cymeraun. junctions
diffwysn. steep slope
dinasn. fort
dôln. meadow
drwsn. door
dua. black
dyffrynn. valley (low ground between hills)
fachsee bach
fawrsee mawr
ffriddn. sheep walk, mountain pasture
foelsee moel
galedsee caled
gamsee cam
graigsee craig
goleun. light
gwaithn. works
gwêna. white
gwyna. white, holy
hafodn. summer place – the pasture to which animals were driven for seasonal grazing (or sometimes the house built there – see hafoty)
hafottysee hafoty
hafotyn. summer dwelling (house) on the hafod lands
helfan. hunt
hendre(f)n. winter dwelling – the established or permanent settlement, usually in a lowland location or near the best farmland
isa(f)a. lowest
llamn. leap
llann. church, parish, village
llechweddn. slope
lleidrn. robber, thief
lletyn. lodging, inn
llynn. lake
mabn. son, boy
maenn. rock, stone
mawra. big
moeln. bare hill (top)
mynachn. monk
mynyddn. mountain
nantn. brook, small stream
newydda. new
oleusee goleu
penn. head, end
perygln. danger
plwmn. lead (the metal)
poetha. hot
pystylln. waterfall
penarthn. promontory
rhiwn. hill, slope
rhydn. ford
sarnn. causeway
tyddynn. small-holding or small farm, a building or dwelling
tyn. house
ucha(f)a. highest
voelsee moel
wensee gwên
y, yr, ’rart. (of) the

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