Welsh words and phrases that make it the best language in the world
The Welsh language is a beautiful collection of words -an abundance of melodic sayings and evocative phrases that make you want to ‘cwtch’ the person talking.
There’s a reason Wales is known as the land of song, and it’s because our winning words literally make it sound like we're singing when we speak.
In celebration of our poetic language, we’ve chosen our favourite words, sayings, phrases and proverbs to share – plus a few English words with a completely different meaning when you cross the border!
Some are full of wisdom, some warmth, some wonder - and some just make us smile when we hear them.
Maybe the most famous and our favourite, "cwtch" is widely used in Wales by both Welsh and English speakers. The word has two meanings and most people will know the first - a hug or a cuddle. But it also means so much more than that - love, embrace, warmth and affection. The second meaning means a safe place to store things - like a cubbyhole in English. The two meanings sort of tie together - an embrace that feels like a safe place. You’ll find the word cwtch around Bluestone - including small play areas for children in our Skomer lodges and welcome room at the Well Spa.
Ling di long
If the Welsh language is a song, then this word should be first on the songsheet! It means lackadaisical - a casual wander with no time restraints or particular direction in mind.
Hiraeth is often translated to homesickness but it means a lot more - a longing, yearning, wistfulness and a nostalgia for the way things once were. It's a place where your soul feels at home.
Most commonly heard in South Wales, it essentially means ‘cheers’. One to to try at the Knight’s Tafarn while sampling a local ale.
A little like the Irish word ‘craic’, the Welsh word hwyl is used to express a stirring sensation, fervour, emotion, motivation and enthusiasm. One to cry out as you whizz down our Sky Wire!
A lovely one from the animal kingdom meaning ‘butterfly’ - pronounced 'pil-ee pal-ah’. There are plenty of butterflies to spot along the nature trail and around our bug hotels!
This is a phrase we have embraced at Bluestone and has inspired the Bwbach Festival that runs on site during the Autumn months.
The ‘Bw’ of Bwbach is pronounced ‘Boo’ with the closest translation being ‘little scare’ - like a playful prank.
It’s also used to describe scarecrows or a playful hobgoblin who would help out around the house in return for cream and occasionally play pranks on people. The word for scarecrow is a bit more grown up - Bwgan Brain, pronounced ‘boo-gan braen’.
Dwt means a little person or just a 'dinky thing'. If you are dwt (rhymes with ‘put’) you are cute, sweet and small. We have a lot of dwty fairies and hobbits living in the secret village at Bluestone.
Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon
This is one of Wales’ most famous proverbs and means ‘a nation without a language is a nation without a heart’. It is pronounced phonetically as ‘ken-edl heb yayth, kenedl heb gal-on’.
Not normally found much outside of Wales, a coracle is a small round wicker boat that you propel yourself over water with using a wooden paddle. It’s a rather serene experience - you can commonly find people bobbing about on them at Bluestone’s lake.
Meaning utterly disgusting, icky or gross - ych-af-i is an effective way of telling someone something is really not to your taste.
One of our favourites and one of those odd Welsh phrases that means exactly what you think it does but not in the way you think! Ty is pronounced 'tee' and actually means ‘house’ in English and coffi means, well, coffee. So although you might think Ty Coffi means ‘tea and coffee’ it actually means ‘coffee house’ - hence the name of our coffee house at the Bluestone resort!
Pronounced ‘micro-don’ it does not mean ‘small Italian gangster’ - it actually means microwave.
Literally meaning ‘him over there’ it’s pronounced ‘oon-core moon-core’. There’s a version for ‘her over there’ as well - ‘Onco fonco’ - which is pronounced ‘oncore von-core’ and is no less fun to say.
A nice simple one that’s fun to say: Sglod-yon. It means chips. Try it when you order chips at one of our restaurants!
Are you getting your greens? Then you’ll be familiar with spinach - which is pronounced ‘spig-ogg-liss’ in Welsh.
Dros ben llestri
Another favourite of ours, this means ‘over the top’, as in excessive, exaggerated or beyond reasonable limits. The phrase ‘dros ben’ on its own means “residual, spare; extra, extremely, indeed, over”. Together the phrase actually literally translates to ‘over the dishes’.
Buwch goch gota
How many 'buwch gosh gotas' did you see on your last walk in the countryside? It means lady bird in English, though the direct translation is a lot more amusing - literally meaning ‘little red cow’. Also a favourite - gwdihŵ, pronounced ‘good-ee-hoo’ – meaning owl. Yes, it sounds like an owl hoot!
Llond fy mol
One to remember for after dinner at the Farmhouse Grill. Llond fy mol means ‘full’.
English words that mean something different in Wales
Once you cross over our borders, our English visitors should be aware that words they use in everyday speech might have a totally different meaning over here.
Here are a few examples to note down!
While it might mean nice and neat in English, tidy is far more likely to describe something that’s ‘good’ over here!
Think it’s the sound a bubble bursting might make? Wrong. It’s any fizzy or soft drink.
No, it’s not how to describe our vivacious green landscape and rich meadows at Bluestone. It actually means ‘very nice’.
Cup of tea? Maybe, but we’re far more likely to use tea to describe what you might call dinner.
Not that thing you sit on, butt means ‘friend’ to us!
You better get used to ‘now’ meaning at any point in the future. It doesn’t literally mean ‘I’ll be there now’.
Normally used to describe extreme happiness or the sound a bee makes, the Welsh tend to use buzzing to describe something firmly unpleasant.