- pertaining to Wales, eg. someone who comes from Wales.

- a type of Gaelic language spoken in Wales, similar to Irish, Scottish and Bretton regional languages, which is also spoken by colonial decendants in parts of South America. If you value your life, it is VITAL that you learn at least a few phrases before you enter a welsh pub.

Pronunciation of Welsh

Hang in there, we'll get to ll soon enough. Welsh has seven vowels, a e i o u w y. These can occur short or long; sometimes length is indicated by a circumflex, as e.g. â. I can't do the HTML for w^ or y^ but they do occur: cw^n 'dogs', ty^ 'house'.

W is a vowel pure and simple, long or short as in English took or pool. (Exception: it's a consonant in the group gw.) U is pronounced like i in South Wales, and in North Wales it's further back than that. Y is a neutral vowel when stressed and like i when unstressed. It's unstressed in a few common words like y, yr 'the', yn 'in', fy 'my'. Stress is usually on the second-last syllable. The diphthongs include ae, ai, aw, ei, ew, oe, wy.

Of the consonants:

  • th is like English TH in thin
  • dd is like English TH in then
  • ch is as in loch, chutzpah
  • f is like English V
  • ff and ph are like English F
  • rh is a voiceless R
  • si before another vowel is like English SH.
What's that? You want to know about ll? Well it's a voiceless palatal lateral fricative. Um, short of finding you a native speaker that's the best I can do. A goose hissing. The closest English (and it isn't at all close) is CL... perhaps try CTHL. For some speakers it's a lateral affricate: see my node lateral fricative for more details.


The basic word order is verb first, then subject. The verb has an initial particle indicating statement, negative, or question. Here is 'to be' in the present tense, in the literary language:

yr wyf i = I am
yr ydych chwi = you are
y mae hi = she is
y mae ef = he is
yr ydym ni = we are
y maent hwy = they are

In modern spoken Welsh the initial particle is omitted and some of the other words are shorter: dych chi etc.

The imperfect tense is:
yr oeddwn i = I was
yr oeddech chwi = you were
yr oedd hi = she was
yr oedd ef = he was
yr oeddem ni = we were
y oeddent hwy = they were

The future tense is different again:
byddaf i = I will be
byddwch chwi = you will be
bydd hi = she will be etc.

There does exist an inflected past tense for all verbs, e.g. darllen 'read' goes:
darllenais i
darllenasoch chwi
darllenodd hi etc.

But generally other verbs are formed with 'to be' and the preposition yn 'in':
yr wyf i yn darllen = I am reading
yr oedd ef yn siarad = he was speaking
byddwch chwi yn dysgu = you will learn

A question is formed by changing the initial particle to a, a negative uses ni(d) or na(c), and there are are other changes such as mae being replaced by ydyw. Let's move on.

Nouns are either masculine or feminine, with no real predictability. Plurals are formed with a variety of endings, with no real predictability: dyn 'man', dynion 'men', geneth 'girl', genethod 'girls', afal 'apple', afalau, and a few others; plus umlaut as in bachgen 'boy', bechgyn 'boys', and oddities like plentyn 'child', plant 'children'.

Adjectives generally follow nouns, and some have feminine and plural forms of their own. As well as an inflected comparative and superlative, they have an equative form, as in "as big as...".

One very characteristic feature of Welsh, and of other Celtic languages, is mutation. This is a change of the initial sounds of words for a grammatical reason or because of some preceding word or sound. The system of mutation is quite complicated and absolutely pervades the language.

It may be illustrated with the word pensil 'pencil', and just the possessive pronouns. 'My pencil' is fy mhensil with nasal mutation, 'his pencil' is ei bensil with soft mutation or lenition, and 'her pencil' is ei phensil with aspirate mutation. See word-initial mutations in Celtic languages for more detail.

The numerals one to ten are un dau tri pedwar pump chwech saith wyth naw deg. Higher numbers are based on scores: ugain 'twenty'.

Old-fashioned character sets such as ASCII and ISO-8859-1 do indeed lack the two characters necessary for Welsh: W with a circumflex accent and Y with a circumflex accent. While ISO-8859-14 does support them, its use is quite rare.

Yet again, Unicode comes to the rescue:


Unicode also offers an alternative concept of combining characters:
Combining characters are generally diacritics which, when following any character, combine with it in a single character space. Thus:
Ŵ = 
ŵ = 
Ŷ = 
ŷ = 

As usual with Unicode, older browsers such as Netscape 4 don't support many characters. Get rid of your '90s browser and update to Mozilla or Internet Explorer.
You also need a font which supports these characters but modern operating systems generally support all but the rarest characters.

"To welsh" is also a slang phrase meaning to refuse to pay one's debts or obligations. Two spellings, welsh or welch, exist though the original spelling of the word is welsh.

The origin of the use of the phrase extends back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries around race tracks in England for people who would not make good on their bets. The origin of the phrase as been attributed to two sources, neither of which are directly connected to the the Welsh people. The first is that it was English bookies who were not paying their debts and who would flee to Wales in an attempt to avoid prosecution, causing the adoption of them having "welshed" on their bets. The other tale of the origin of this phrase is that one particular English bookie, a man named Bob Welch, was the culprit in this scenario and it was the similarity between his name and that of the natives of Wales that caused the use of the phrase.

It should be noted that Welsh societies in the U.K. and in the U.S. have been trying to have the phrase expunged from popular use, which may have led to the increase in the use of the alternate spelling and pronounciation of "welch."

Welsh (?), a. [AS. waelisc, welisc, from wealh a stranger, foreigner, not of Saxon origin, a Welshman, a Celt, Gael; akin to OHG. walh, whence G. walsch or welsch, Celtic, Welsh, Italian, French, Foreign, strange, OHG. walhisc; from the name of a Celtic tribe. See Walnut.]

Of or pertaining to Wales, or its inhabitants.

[Sometimes written also Welch.]

Welsh flannel, a fine kind of flannel made from the fleece of the flocks of the Welsh mountains, and largely manufactured by hand. --
Welsh glaive, ∨ Welsh hook, a weapon of war used in former times by the Welsh, commonly regarded as a kind of poleax. Fairholt. Craig. --
Welsh mortgage O. Eng.Law, a species of mortgage, being a conveyance of an estate, redeemable at any time on payment of the principal, with an understanding that the profits in the mean time shall be received by the mortgagee without account, in satisfaction of interest. Burrill. --
Welsh mutton, a choice and delicate kind of mutton obtained from a breed of small sheep in Wales. --
Welsh onion Bot., a kind of onion (Allium fistulosum) having hollow inflated stalks and leaves, but scarcely any bulb, a native of Siberia. It is said to have been introduced from Germany, and is supposed to have derived its name from the German term walsch foreign. --
Welsh parsley, hemp, or halters made from hemp. [Obs. & Jocular] J. Fletcher. --
Welsh rabbit. See under Rabbit.


© Webster 1913.

Welsh, n.


The language of Wales, or of the Welsh people.

2. pl.

The natives or inhabitants of Wales.

⇒ The Welsh call themselves Cymry, in the plural, and a Welshman Cymro, and their country Cymru, of which the adjective is Cymreig, and the name of their language Cymraeg. They are a branch of the Celtic family, and a relic of the earliest known population of England, driven into the mountains of Wales by the Anglo-Saxon invaders.


© Webster 1913.

Welsh (?), v. t. & i.


To cheat by avoiding payment of bets; -- said esp. of an absconding bookmaker at a race track. [Slang]


To avoid dishonorably the fulfillment of a pecuniary obligation. [Slang]


© Webster 1913

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