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From Proto-Celtic *wailos. Cognate with Breton gail, Gaulish Vailo.





gwael (feminine singular gwael, plural gwaelion, equative gwaeled, comparative gwaelach, superlative gwaelaf)

  1. miserable, wretched, contemptible, despised, abject, vile
  2. unwell, unhealthy, sick, ill, poorly
  3. humble, lowly
  4. baseborn, plebeian, ignoble, mean, poor

Derived terms

  • gwaeledd m (sickness, illness; poorness; weakness, frailness, wretchedness, abjectness, misery, vileness; baseness of birth, meanness; the common people)
  • gwaelu (to become ill, sicken, grow faint, ail; to become worse, weaken, decay; to debase, lower (oneself, etc.), become wretched)


Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
gwael wael ngwael unchanged
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.


  • R. J. Thomas, G. A. Bevan, P. J. Donovan, A. Hawke et al., editors (1950–present), “gwael”, in Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru Online (in Welsh), University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies