bir(r)-

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Type: lexical
Meaning: 'short' (?)
Language: Celtic
Phonemic analysis: /birr/- and/or /bir/-
From Proto-Celtic: *birr- 'short' (?)
Attestation: pirakos, pirauiχeś, piretos, pireuos, piriχio

Commentary

An onomastic element birr- appears in Ogam LITUBIRI and in Gaulish in simplex names like birrus, birrius, birro (TLG: 28, Lambert 1994: 188, DLG: 76, Delamarre 2007: 213 et passim). They are thought to be connected with OIr. berr, MW byrr, OBret. berr, Co. ber 'short', Gallo-Lat. birrus 'capelet with hood' (FEW A–B: 376, Thurneysen 1916: 82) < PC *birro- (Matasović 2009 s.v., LEIA: B-42; no IE etymology). Under this headword, Delamarre DLG: 76 also lists names in birak- (biracos, biracillus, biracatus, G-257 βιρακοτουτι[, biracideginus, etc., KGP I: 149, Delamarre 2007: 42, 213); the association goes back to De Jubainville (in AcS I: 423), who makes the connection via a variant (nomen) birius (TLL s.v.), but this is uncertain considering consistent simple /r/ in the birak-names as well as the suffix -āk- itself, which usually forms derivations from substantives (cf. GPN: 311–313, Lochner von Hüttenbach 1989: 31).

David Stifter, Corinna Salomon

Bibliography

AcS Alfred Holder, Alt-Celtischer Sprachschatz, Leipzig: Teubner 1896-1907. (3 volumes)
Delamarre 2007 Xavier Delamarre, Noms de personnes celtiques dans l'épigraphie classique. Nomina Celtica Antiqua Selecta Inscriptionum, Paris: Errance 2007.
DLG Xavier Delamarre, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise. Une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental, 2nd, revised edition, Paris: Errance 2003.
FEW Walther von Wartburg, Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, Bâle: 1922–2002.
GPN David Ellis Evans, Gaulish Personal Names. A Study of Continental Celtic Formations., Oxford: Clarendon Press 1967.