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Type: lexical
Meaning: 'family/clan member, friend'
Language: Celtic
Phonemic analysis: /en/-
From PIE: *u̯enH-i- 'loved one, friend, relative'
From Proto-Celtic: *u̯eni- 'friend, relative'
Attestation: uenia, uenu


The i-stem u̯eni- 'loved one, friend, relative', attested in OIr. fingal < *u̯eni-galā 'slaying of a relative', is a common Gaulish personal name element, as first element in compounds (e.g. RIIG BDR-13-01 (RIG G-106) ουενιτοουτα, uenicarus – cf. OIr. finchar, OW guncar –, ueniclutius, uenimarus, uenisamos, as second element in Ogam CIIC 214 ANNVENI) and simplex names (e.g. uenica, uenilla, uenisa), see AcS III: 168–171, KGP: 289 f., GPN: 277–279, Lochner von Hüttenbach 1989: 176 f., Uhlich 1993: 250, Meid 2005: 138, 148 f., 245, Stüber 2005: 63, 91, Stüber et al. 2009: 46, 253, 271, DLG: 313, Delamarre 2007: 235 et passim. Lexically as a collective *u̯eni̯ā 'family, clan' in Insular Celtic: OIr. fine, OBret. coguenou gl. indigena, MBret., ModBret. gouenn 'race, kind' (Matasović 2009 s.v. *wenyā).

The forms go back to the PIE root *u̯enH- 'love' (IEW: 1146 f., LIV²: 682 f.); on the singular semantics of the i-stem Szemerényi 1981: 313–315, McCone 1993: 45, Stüber 2005: 91. While Szemerényi and especially McCone specify the meaning as 'relative', Meid 2005: 148 f. argues for a more general meaning 'friend', as in PG *u̯eni- 'friend' (Kroonen 2013 s.v. *weni-), which also fits with the commonness of the base in short feminine names ('dear one').

Corinna Salomon


AcS Alfred Holder, Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz, Leipzig: Teubner 1896–1907.
CIIC R[obert] A[lexander] S[tewart] Macalister, Corpus inscriptionum insularum Celticarum, Dublin: Stationery Office 1945–1949.
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.