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Old English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From Proto-Germanic *walhaz, from a Celtic name also represented by Latin Volcae. Having originally apparently referred to a neighboring Celtic tribe, it was broadened to refer to any inhabitant of the Western Roman Empire and then, in Britain, narrowed to refer to native Britons, and later to Welsh people in particular. Owing to the high numbers of native British slaves in some areas, it also came to be used to refer to slaves (compare semantic formation of Slav), though only alongside – never supplanting – its ethnic meaning.[1]


  • IPA(key): /wæɑ̯lh/, [wæɑ̯ɫx]


wealh m (nominative plural wēalas)

  1. an inhabitant of the Western Roman Empire
  2. a Briton or Welshman
  3. a native British slave, serf


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


  1. ^ Miller, Katherine L. (2014) The Semantic Field of Slavery in Old English: Wealh, Esne, Þræl[1], University of Leeds