Welsh place-names are highly descriptive, and incorporate many common elements from the Welsh language. Knowing the meaning of place-names helps us to understand the environment in which our Welsh ancestors lived.
With this in mind, I've compiled an alphabetical glossary of place-name elements extracted from various sources such as those cited at the bottom of this page.
Each element in the glossary is followed by its meaning and where possible, an example of its use and a link to a sound file demonstrating its pronunciation. New entries and new examples are continually being added.
Use the shortcuts above to go directly to the relevant part of the glossary, or click on the daffodil to go to the Welsh Family History Archive homepage.
I'd be very glad of your help in identifying errors or suggesting new additions or examples. Please e-mail the details to me, John Ball, via my Contact Page.
The glossary is compiled from various sources including:
DAVIES, Dewi (undated) Welsh Place-names and Their Meanings. The Cambrian News, Aberystwyth. (No ISBN)
DAVIES, Elwyn (1967) A Gazetteer of Welsh Place-Names. University of Wales Press. Cardiff. ISBN 0-7083-1038-9
LEAVER, Tony (1998) Pronouncing Welsh Place Names. Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Llanrwst. ISBN 0-86381-482-4
LIAS, Anthony (1994) A Guide to Welsh Place-Names. Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. Llanrwst. ISBN 0-86381-289-9
OWEN, Hywel Wyn (1998) A Pocket Guide - The Place-Names of Wales. University of Wales Press. Cardiff. ISBN 0-7083-1458-9
The Ordnance Survey website offers a Welsh placenames feature, described as a "guide... designed to help you understand more about the role of the Welsh language in the origins of place names in Britain":
The feature includes a brief introduction to the language and a glossary of Welsh elements in place names, with examples of their use.