Posts Tagged ‘Dafydd’

Happy St David’s Day — from a sunny (yes, it is!) Wales!

As a St David’s Day present, here are the entries from Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names for David and Dewi.

David ♂ Biblical name of Hebrew origin. The meaning isn’t all that clear, but seems mostly likely to derive from a root meaning “beloved,” although, interestingly enough, the Hebrew letters which make up the name David are exactly the same ones used for “mandrake.” 12th C. St. David is the famous leek- and daffodil-wielding patron saint of Wales — but his real name was actually DEWI.

Diminutive forms: Dawe (historic); Dave, Davey, Davie, Davy.

David in other languages: Welsh: Dafydd; Dai (diminutive), Irish: Dáibhead, Daithí, Gaelic: Dàibheid, Dàibhidh, Cornish: Daveth, Czech, French, German, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish: David, Hungarian: Dávid, Lithuanian: Davidas, Italian: Davide, Latvian: Dāvids, Pol: Dawid, Arabic: Da’wud, Hawaiian: Kāwika, Maori: Rāwiri, Finish: Taavetti, Taavi (diminutive).

Bearers: two medieval Scottish kings (d. 1153 and 1371); David Copperfield, the eponymous hero of Dickens’s 1850 novel, and the stage-name of  American illusionist David Kotkin (b. 1956); David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George, (1863–1945) and David Cameron (b. 1966), both British Prime Ministers; David Eddings (1931–2009), the American novelist; David Bowie (b. 1947), the British singer-songwriter.

Dewi ♂ ♀ The boy’s name Dewi is a very old and very interesting name. Dewi Sant is the Welsh name for St. David, and many people believe it is simply the Welsh form of David. It isn’t. David is simply the name adopted to render Dewi in English, a long time ago. Almost certainly, his name actually derives from the Common Celtic *dOEwo- “(a) God,” cognate with Zeus, Latin deus, Sanskrit deva and the Irish Dagda, etc.

The element is well attested in given names in the Roman period — examples include Deomiorix, Deiana, and Deieda. Some have attempted to derive the name from Dewydd, an alleged “old form” of Dafydd—the Welsh form of David — but the argument works just as well the other way — Dewydd may well represent an attempt to synthesize Dewi and Dafydd. The simple fact is, biblical names were not used in sub-Roman Britain, and thus the likelihood of someone genuinely being called “David” in sixth-century Wales is, quite frankly, about as likely as someone in the period being called Jayden.

Dewi was used as a given name in the Middle Ages, probably in honor of the saint, but then disappeared until its revival in Wales in the nineteenth century.

By coincidence, the Malaysian girl’s name Dewi means “Goddess.”

I love coincidences! 😉

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus!

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Yesterday, I featured some of my favorite Welsh names. These were mostly those Welsh names which aren’t too difficult for non-Welsh speakers to get their tongues around.

Today, however, I thought I’d take a look at some of Wales’ names which are — how shall we say? — not for the faint-hearted!

They may not be the easiest to pronounce, but they do demonstrate the great richness in myth, history and meaning of Welsh names. Many of them have their roots in the Dark Ages — and some even earlier still.

A few notes on pronunciation to start off with:

  • ‘c’ is always hard like ‘k’
  • ‘ch’ is like the German ‘ch’ of ‘ich’, and the Scottish ‘ch’ of ‘loch’
  • ‘dd’ is like ‘th’ in ‘the’, ‘that’, ‘then’, etc
  • ‘g’ is always hard, as in ‘gate’
  • to pronounce ‘ll’ properly, you position your tongue as you would for an ‘l’, but then blow along the sides of your tongue. You should end up with a sort of clicky hiss. Probably the closest approximate sound in English is ‘cl’ — this is better than bottling out and just saying ‘l’ anyway!
  • ‘ng’ is like the ‘ng’ at the end of ‘sing’, ‘ring’, ‘fling’ etc — same as the Spanish ñ
  • ‘r’ is rolled like a Scottish ‘r’
  • ‘rh’ is very breathy. Very hard to explain how to say in English; sort of like Welsh ‘r’ followed by an almost audible ‘h’
  • ‘s’ always like ‘s’ in ‘soft’, never like a ‘z’ as in ‘his’
  • ‘th’ is like ‘th’ in ‘thin, ‘think’, ‘thirst’, etc.

Clear as mud? Brave enough to try some? The worst offenders are flagged up in bold and red to help.

Off you go!


Angharad (‘ang-ha-rad’) — combination of the intensive prefix an- + car ‘loved’, thus meaning ‘my very beloved’. An old and traditional name.

Blodeuwedd (‘blod-EYE-wedd‘) — blodau  ‘flowers’ + gwedd ‘image’. The name in myth of Lleu’s wife after she was turned into an owl; originally a maiden formed from flowers.

Briallen (bree-all-en) — Welsh ‘ll’, remember! Means ‘primrose’ in Welsh.

Buddug (bi-ddig) — Welsh form of Boudicca, and also treated as the Welsh version of Victoria.

Creuddylad (‘cray-DDUH-lad’) — craidd ‘heart’ + dyled ‘debt’. Welsh form of Cordelia, and probably the origin of the name.

Dyddgu (‘deedh-gee’) — dydd ‘day’ + cu ‘beloved’; medieval girl’s name.

Eurddolen (‘ayr-DDOL-en’) — aur ‘gold’ + dolen ‘link’; Welsh form of Goldilocks.

Goleuddydd (‘gol-ay-ddeedd‘) — golau ‘light’ + dydd ‘day’; figure from Welsh myth.

Gwawrddydd (‘gwour-ddeedd‘ — ‘gwour’ rhyming with ‘hour’) — gwawr ‘dawn’ + dydd ‘day’; an early saint.

Gwenllian (‘gwen-LLEE-an’) — trad old name.

Llio (‘llee-oh’) — short form of Gwenllian.

Marchell (‘march-ell‘) — ‘yellow horse’; name from myth.

Morfudd (‘mor-veedh‘) — môr ‘sea’ or mawr ‘great’ + budd ‘profit’ and ‘advantage’; trad old name.

Myfanwy (‘muh-VAN-wee’) — ‘my delicate/rare (one)’; quite well-known outside Wales because of the song.

Siwan (‘shoo-wan’ or ‘see-wan’) — Welsh form of Joan.

Tangwystl (‘tang-OO-ist-ul’) — ‘peace-pledge’; one of Brychan’s legendary daughters.

Undeg (‘een-dayg’) — ‘fair one’.

Ystwyth (‘ust-with‘) — ‘supple’; a Welsh river which gives its name to Aberystwyth.


Bendigeidfran (‘BEN-di-GAYD-vran’) — translates as ‘Bran the Blessed’, a name by which the Welsh hero/God Bran is often known.

Brychan (‘bruh-chan’) — ‘little speckled one’, borne by a legendary figure of the 5th Century.

Brython (‘bruh-thon’) — ‘Briton’.

Cadwallon (‘kad-WALL-on’) — ‘battle- leader’; Modern Welsh form of the Iron Age tribal name Catuvellaunus.

Cunedda (‘kin-EDD-a’) — ‘good lord’; a legendary hero.

Cynddelw (‘kin-DDEH-loo’) — possibly ‘manner of a lord’; another ancient name, borne by a legendary chieftain.

Dafydd (‘dav-idh‘) — Welsh form of David.

Dyfnwallon (‘duv-en-WALL-on’) — ‘deep lord/lord of the Deep’; trad old name.

Euroswydd (‘ayr-OS-widh‘) — aur ‘gold’ + oswydd ‘enemy’; a figure from mythology.

Fflamddwyn (‘FLAM-ddoo-in’) — ‘flame-bearer’; trad old name.

Gerallt (‘geh-rallt’) — Welsh form of Gerald.

Gwalchmai (‘gwalch-my’) — either ‘May-hawk’ or ‘hawk-field’; the original Gawain (Gavin!).

Gwynllyw (‘gwin-LLEE-oo’) — ‘white/blessed/pure leader’. Name of an early saint and king.

Illtud (‘ill-teed’) — ‘many-people’; an early saint.

Llefelys (‘lleh-VEL-is’) — ‘sweet-voice’; mythological figure.

Llŷr (‘lleer’) — from a very old Celtic root meaning ‘sea’; figure from mythology.

Matholwch (‘math-OH-looch‘) — the name of an Irish king in Welsh mythology.

Meredudd (‘meh-REH-deedh‘) — original form of Meredith. NB: boy’s name :D.

Oswallt (‘os-wallt’) — Welsh form of Oswald.

Pryderi (‘pruh-DEH-ree’) — from a verb meaning ‘to take pains’. Figure from mythology.

Rhiwallon (‘rhee-WALL-on’) – ‘lord-ruler’; trad old name.

Rhydderch (‘rhidd-erch‘) — probably ‘exalted ruler’; trad old name.

Sulien (‘SEEL-ee-en’) — ‘sun-born’; very old name. Sulicena is an earlier feminine form found on a Roman era tombstone.

Wmffre (‘UM-freh’) — Welsh form of Humphrey.

Ynyr (‘un-eer’) — Another Welsh form of Honorius.

All together now, Gwlad, Gwald, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad!

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