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Type: lexical
Meaning: 'hard' ('long'?)
Language: Celtic
Phonemic analysis: /dūr/-
Attestation: turokos, śuro


The base dur- is attested in Gaulish personal names like durio, durillus, duronius, etc. (Delamarre 2007: 220 et passim, GPN: 87, n. 7, AcS I: 1383–1387). It is usually considered either to be a loan from Lat. dūrus 'hard, enduring', which is also found in Latin onomastics (cf. Lochner von Hüttenbach 1989: 73), and/or to be connected with duro- 'market (place)' < PIE *(-)dʰur-o- '(-)gate' (e.g. GPN: 87, n. 7, Delamarre 2007: 220), which is common as (second) element in toponyms (DLG: 156 f., Delamarre 2012: 151, NIL: 130–135, Matasović 2009: 111 f., Falileyev 2010: 18). However, as pointed out by Delamarre 2012: 151 (also Delamarre 2019: 314–316, and see already AcS I: 1383), duro- as first element of compound names, especially ethno- and anthroponyms, does not appear to be the same as the 'gate'-word. Delamarre prefers to identify dur- in such forms with *dūr- 'hard; steel' as in OIr. dúr 'hard', W dur, Bret. dir 'steel'. These words are generally considered to be loans from Latin dūrus and (ferrum) dūrum 'steel' (LEIA: D-224, cf. also Evans 1970: 502 f.). The argument for a borrowing is based on the one hand on the Welsh form, as Welsh inherited /ū/ > /ī/, on the other hand on the semantics: the PIE formation *duh₂-ro- means 'far, long'; 'hard' ('long-lasting, enduring') is a semantic development specific to Latin (Stefan Schumacher p.c.; see De Vaan 2008 s.v.). However, LEIA: D-224 provides a possible explanation for the irregular development in Welsh. If the Insular Celtic words (or at least the OIr. one) are inherited, they may have undergone a semantic shift under the influence of Lat. dūrus (in which case Gaulish onomastic dūr- would mean 'long' rather than 'hard'); considering the genetic closeness of the Italic and Celtic branches, though, it does not seem inconceivable that the semantic development 'long' > 'long-lasting, enduring' > 'hard' constitutes a shared innovation.

Corinna Salomon


AcS Alfred Holder, Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz, Leipzig: Teubner 1896–1907.
Delamarre 2007 Xavier Delamarre, Noms de personnes celtiques dans l'épigraphie classique. Nomina Celtica Antiqua Selecta Inscriptionum, Paris: Errance 2007.
Delamarre 2012 Xavier Delamarre, Noms de lieux celtiques de l'Europe ancienne (-500/+500). Dictionnaire, Arles: Errance 2012.
Delamarre 2019 Xavier Delamarre, Dictionnaire des thèmes nominaux du gaulois. I. Ab- / Iχs(o)-, Paris: Les Cent Chemins 2019.
De Vaan 2008 Michiel De Vaan, Etymological dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages [= Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series 7], Leiden, Boston: Brill 2008.
DLG Xavier Delamarre, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise. Une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental, 2nd, revised edition, Paris: Errance 2003.
Evans 1970 D. Ellis Evans, "Nomina celtica II. Duratius, tincorix, ? Celt. *baido-, W. aladur", Études Celtiques 12.2 (1970), 501–511.
Falileyev 2010 Alexander Falileyev, Dictionary of Continental Celtic Place-Names. A Celtic Companion to the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, Aberystwyth: CMCS 2010.