From Middle French Gaule, from Old French Gaule, Waulle (“Gaul”), from Frankish *Walhaland (“Gaul”, literally “land of the Romans or foreigners”), from *Walha (“foreigners, Romans, Celts”), from Proto-Germanic *walhaz (“outlander, foreigner, Celt”), probably of Celtic origin, from the same source as Latin Volcae (name of a Celtic tribe in Southern Germany, which later emmigrated to Gaul). Cognate with Old High German Walh, Walah (“Celt, Roman, Gaul”), Old English Wealh, Walh (“a non-germanic foreigner, Celt”), Old Norse Valir (“Gauls, Frenchmen”). More at Wales, Cornwall, Walloon.
Despite their similar appearance, Latin Gallia is probably not the origin of French Gaule; the similarity is purely coincidental. According to regular sound changes in the development of Old French, Latin g before a becomes j (compare gamba, whence jambe), and the i of terminal -ia transpositions to the preceding syllable (compare gloire from gloria). Thus, the regular outcome of Latin Gallia is Jaille, a component still seen in several French placenames (e.g. La Jaille-Yvon, Saint-Mars-la-Jaille, etc).
- Gaul (former name of France)
- French: Gaule