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Glossary of Welsh origins of place names in Britain

Browse the glossary: A to B | C | D to F | G to I | L to O | P to S | T to Y

adj=adjective nf=noun feminine
adv=adverb nm=noun masculine
f=feminine np=noun plural
m=masculine pr=preposition
pl=plural num=number

Place names consist of elements – the words people used to describe a place or their response to their environment.

Place names can consist of a single generic element, usually a noun (Bryn, Talwrn or Dinas), but most place names comprise more than one element with a linguistic relationship between the elements. The generic can be qualified by:

  • an adjective (Bryn-coch in Powys, SH7602);
  • an element defining the location in relation to a river (Brynaman);
  • an archaeological site (Bryn-celli-ddu);
  • a building (Bryneglwys in Denbighshire, SJ1447);
  • a person (Brynsiencyn in Isle of Anglesey, SH4867); or
  • vegetation (Bryncelyn).

Qualifying elements may, occasionally, precede the generic element (Gwynfryn in Wrexham, SJ2552). It is quite common for the definite article y to precede a place-name (Y Bala, Y Waun, Y Trallwng).

Learn more in our brief introduction to the Welsh language with reference to place names.

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© Ordnance Survey 2018