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Type: lexical
Meaning: 'having ability, strength, valour'
Language: Celtic
Phonemic analysis: /galat/-
From PIE: *gelH-ti-
From Proto-Celtic: *galat-
Attestation: kalatiknos


The Greek ethnonym Greek γαλάτης, pl. γαλάται (see McCone 2008: 94–96 for the history of attestation) is generally considered to be derived from from the PIE root *gelH- 'to gain power over sth.' (IEW: 351, LIV²: 185 f.) → ti-abstract *gelH-ti-s 'having power (over sth.), endowed with might/valour' > *galatis (Schumacher 2000: 42, Schumacher 2004: 325, McCone 2008: 98; cf. also Irslinger 2002: 212). Cf. the Celtic base *gal-. Schumacher considers an alternative meaning of *galatis 'marauder, thief' (either as a positively connotated endonym in the spirit of honourable raiding, or as a pejorative name given by an enemy tribe) based on the meaning 'get possession of' inherent in the root (Arm. kalaw 'took, snatched', W gallu also 'take (away)'). See gal- on alternative suggestions for the etymology and exact semantics; if the 'fury'-semantics of the Irish and Welsh nouns are projected back to a PIE root, such a meaning can also underlie the ethnonym ('endowed with battle fury'). See also Sims-Williams 2011 for methodological consideration, especially concerning the potential role played by borrowings and mediating languages.

Corinna Salomon