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This Proto-Celtic entry contains reconstructed terms and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.


Alternative forms[edit]

  • *knekkos


Apparently cognate with Proto-Germanic *hnakkô (the back of the neck; nape), of uncertain further origin, but both are traditionally derived from Proto-Indo-European *kneg- or *knek-.[1] It is sometimes suggested that the Germanic cognate is borrowed from Celtic (cf. especially German Hunke (hillock)). Alternatively, Kroonen argues for an inherited basis of the geminate cluster in the Germanic term, and that consequently the Celtic is more likely borrowed from Germanic.[2][3] Compare Tocharian A kñuk (neck).


*knukkos m[4][5]

  1. protuberance; hill


Masculine o-stem
singular dual plural
nominative *knukkos *knukkou *knukkoi
vocative *knukke *knukkou *knukkūs
accusative *knukkom *knukkou *knukkoms
genitive *knukkī *knukkous *knukkom
dative *knukkūi *knukkobom *knukkobos
locative *knukkei *? *?
instrumental *knukkū *knukkobim *knukkūis

Reconstruction notes[edit]

Matasović's reconstruction *knokkos[1] is probably erroneous for two reasons:

  • *-okk- generally yields -och in Welsh, like in moch (pig) from *mokkus and broch (badger) from *brokkos. Conversely, -ukk- leads to Welsh -wch, as in swch (ploughshare) from *sukkos and bwch (buck) from *bukkos. Thus Welsh cnwch must indicate Proto-Celtic *knukkos, not *knokkos.
  • Early Irish genitive singular cnuicc must contain an original root vowel *u; it cannot have arisen from the raising of an original -o- since such raising generally did not occur across voiceless consonants in Old Irish.


  • Proto-Brythonic: *knox
  • Goidelic:[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Matasović, Ranko (2009) “*knokko-”, in Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 9), Leiden: Brill, →ISBN, page 211
  2. ^ Kroonen, Guus (2013) “*hnekkan ~ *hnakka(n)-”, in Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 11), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN, page 234
  3. ^ Kroonen, Guus (2011) The Proto-Germanic n-stems: A study in diachronic morphophonology, Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, →ISBN, pages 167–169
  4. ^ R. J. Thomas, G. A. Bevan, P. J. Donovan, A. Hawke et al., editors (1950–present), “cnwch”, in Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru Online (in Welsh), University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies
  5. ^ Stifter, David (2023) “The rise of gemination in Celtic”, in Open Research Europe[1], volume 3, →DOI, page 24
  6. ^ G. Toner, M. Ní Mhaonaigh, S. Arbuthnot, D. Wodtko, M.-L. Theuerkauf, editors (2019), “cnocc”, in eDIL: Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language