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Type: lexical
Meaning: 'hard'
Language: Celtic
Phonemic analysis: /kal/-
From Proto-Celtic: *kal- 'hard'
Attestation: caledonos, ritukalos


A Celtic base kal- 'hard' is continued in OIr. calad, MW, MBret. caled, Co. cales 'hard', as well as in a handful of Continental Celtic names (LEIA: C-25 f.). PC *kaleto- 'hard' in the Insular Celtic forms has been derived from PIE *k̑elH- 'be cold, freeze' (*k̑l̥H-eto- 'frozen, hard', Joseph 1982: 40, Schrijver 1995: 86, Falileyev 2010: 12) or a PIE root *keh₂l-, which facilitates the connection with Lat. callum 'hardened skin', etc. (*kh₂l-eto-, De Vaan 2008 s.v. callum), see also De Bernardo Stempel 1987: 64, n. 144, DLG: 98 s.v. calet-, Matasović 2009 s.v. *kaleto-, Zair 2012: 196, and Meid 2005: 189, who compares Germ. *haleþ 'hero'. The same formation probably underlies the Gaulish ethnonym caletes, caleti 'the hard ones', though caletes is a t-stem and the relationship between the forms is not quite clear (Lambert 1994: 34, DLG: 98 s.v. calet-, Falileyev 2010: 87, pace Zimmer 2006: 165 with n. 7). Cf. also the Gaulish personal names caletius/-a, caletinus, caleticcus, caletiu (Lochner von Hüttenbach 1989: 43), RIG M-91, M-92 καλετεδου (Lambert 1994: 180), calitix (Meid 2005: 189), the epithet of Mercury uassocaleti (dat.), and the British ethnonym ancalites (DLG: 98 s.v. calet-, Delamarre 2007: 214). A different formation – and possibly also a different root *k̑el- 'warming', which is not lexically attested in Celtic? – is found in the personal name kaledu and the ethnonym kaledones. Either unsuffixed root may also be present in some of the Gaulish personal names with an element calo- (LEIA: C-26, KGP: 160), though it is not lexically attested in Celtic.

David Stifter, Corinna Salomon


De Bernardo Stempel 1987 Patrizia De Bernardo Stempel, Die Vertretung der indogermanischen liquiden und nasalen Sonanten im Keltischen, Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Innsbruck 1987.
Delamarre 2007 Xavier Delamarre, Noms de personnes celtiques dans l'épigraphie classique. Nomina Celtica Antiqua Selecta Inscriptionum, Paris: Errance 2007.
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.
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.