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Attestation: NM·4 (pirakos) (1)
Language: Celtic
Word Type: proper noun
Semantic Field: personal name

Grammatical Categories: nom. sg. masc.
Stem Class: o

Morphemic Analysis: bir(r)-āk-os
Phonemic Analysis: /birākos/
Meaning: 'Pirakos'


Names in birak- are very well attested in Continental Celtic (Conway et al. 1933: 36, Lejeune 1971: 127 with n. 436, Tibiletti Bruno 1978: 161, Tibiletti Bruno 1981: 199 C): M-70 biracos, biraco (Lochner von Hüttenbach 1989: 31), birac(i)os, biracius/-ia, biracatus, biracillus, biracideginus, G-257 βιρακοτουτι[, biragillus (often multiple attestations, see Delamarre 2007: 42, 213). Cf. also Ogam CIIC 89 biraco. The connection of the birak-names with the base birr- 'short' (AcS I: 423, DLG: 76; also De Bernardo Stempel 2000: 92, who analyses the toponym βιρακελλον in Ptolemy III,1 as *bir(r)-āk-ellom 'the place of the short-cape-wearing people') is uncertain because of single vs. geminate /r/ – while /rr/ is theoretically possible for pirakos, since the North Italic alphabets do not mark geminates, the exact correspondence with Transalpine biracos indicates that it also has /r/. Furthermore, the suffix -āk- usually forms derivations from substantives. Whatever the base, pirakos is best interpreted as a hypocoristic (see GPN: 311–314, Russell 1988: 135 f. with literature for discussion).

David Stifter, Corinna Salomon


AcS Alfred Holder, Alt-Celtischer Sprachschatz, Leipzig: Teubner 1896-1907. (3 volumes)
CIIC R[obert] A[lexander] S[tewart] Macalister, Corpus inscriptionum insularum Celticarum, Dublin: Stationery Office 1945–1949.
Conway et al. 1933 Robert Seymour Conway, Joshua Whatmough, Sarah Elizabeth Johnson, The Prae-Italic Dialects of Italy. Vol. III: Indexes, London: Oxford University Press 1933.
De Bernardo Stempel 2000 Patrizia de Bernardo Stempel, "Ptolemy's Celtic Italy and Ireland: a Linguistic Analysis", in: David N. Parsons, Patrick Sims-Williams (eds), Ptolemy. Towards a linguistic atlas of the earliest Celtic place-names of Europe. Papers from a workshop, sponsored by the British Academy, in the Department of Welsh, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 11–12 April 1999, Aberystwyth: CMCS 2000, 83–112.
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.
GPN David Ellis Evans, Gaulish Personal Names. A Study of Continental Celtic Formations., Oxford: Clarendon Press 1967.