Borrowed from Scottish Gaelic Gàidheal, from earlier Gaoidheal, from Middle Irish Gaídel, from Old Irish Goídel (“Irishman”), a loanword from Old Welsh Guoidel (“wild man, warrior”) (also recorded as a personal name in the Book of Llandaff), from Proto-Brythonic *guɨðel (“savage, woodsman”), from Proto-Celtic *wēdelos (“savage, woodsman”), from Proto-Indo-European *weydʰ- (“wood, wilderness”) (cf. Old English wāþ (“hunt”))..
Medieval Irish traditions, including the Lebor Gabála Érenn, trace the origin of the Goídels to an eponymous ancestor, Goídel Glas, but this is no longer held to be the ultimate etymology of the word.
Gael (plural Gaels)
- A member of an ethnic group in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, whose language is one that is Gaelic.
- 1911 The Great Gaels of Ireland
- are the men that God made mad,
- For all their wars are merry
- and all their songs are sad.
- The Ballad of the White Horse, G.K. Chesterton
From Old Irish Goídel, from Old Welsh Guoidel (“wild man, warrior”) (compare Welsh Gwyddel (“Irishman”)), from Proto-Brythonic *guɨðel, from Proto-Celtic *wēdus (“wild”), from Proto-Indo-European *weydʰ- (“wood, wilderness”) (compare Old English wāþ (“hunt”)). Replaced native terms féni (“class of landed Irish freemen”) and fénechas (“matters pertaining to the féni”), though these words survive as féine and féineachas, respectively, and derive ultimately from the same root.
- Gael, Irish person
- (~ de chuid na hAlban) (Scottish) Highlander
|Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.
- "Gael" in Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla, An Gúm, 1977, by Niall Ó Dónaill.
- “Goídel” in Dictionary of the Irish Language, Royal Irish Academy, 1913–76.
- Entries containing “Gael” in English-Irish Dictionary, An Gúm, 1959, by Tomás de Bhaldraithe.
- Entries containing “Gael” in New English-Irish Dictionary by Foras na Gaeilge.