Bodnant Estate

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Common Welsh Words and Phrases Explained

Nearly a third of the Welsh population speak the language with many more using what is termed as conversational Welsh. You’ll come across common Welsh words and phrases during your stay in North Wales so keep this handy guide.

Place names

You’ll see similar Welsh words come up time and again on road signs and place names.

  • Llan – you’ll see quite often in Welsh place names. Llan has religious connotations and means sacred land or enclosure. Usually, you’ll find these towns and villages have a church or other sacred religious monument at its heart.
  • Cwm – this basically means valley, of which you’ll find plenty in Wales!
  • Aber – another old Welsh word, aber is a word found in the welsh language as well as Cornish and Breton. It usually refers to a place being close to water. Abergwyngregyn, for example, is a small village on the coast nestled on the banks of a river which flows into the sea not many miles away.

Other common welsh phrases

Most people who live and work in Wales use these words to greet each other, why not try them out?

  • Diolch – means thank you, try saying this the next time you buy a tea or a coffee
  • Croeso! – this is another way of saying thank you and is the equivalent of saying ‘cheers’.
  • Os gwelwch yn dda – this means ‘please’. You could ask for refreshments in a cafe or the key to your holiday cottage, finishing your question with this phrase.
  • Mae’n ddrwg gen i – this means ‘I’m sorry’.
  • Ty bach – this is a colloquial phrase for the bathroom or toilet.
  • Hwyl – bid a jolly farewell with a friendly wave and ‘hwyl’

Common names for Welsh food

The food in Wales at gastro pubs and cafes is wonderful, especially when using locally farmed and produced products. So it helps to know some common Welsh words for food.

  • Mel – is honey and in north Wales, you’ll find many honey producers including those that sell the sweet liquid at Conwy Honey Fair.
  • Crempog – these are Welsh pancakes/crumpets and are incredibly tasty. This crempog recipe is ideal for cooking back at the holiday cottage after a busy day.
  • Cregyn gleision – mussels are a delicacy and Conwy mussels certainly are. You can buy these on the quay side. There are some wonderful recipes for cooking mussels, another great dish for cooking in your holiday cottage.
  • Bara brith – this loaf cake is stuffed with dried fruits which have been wallowing in hot tea for some hours. You’ll find it in many cafes serving afternoon tea and is ideal served cold, with a thin veneer of Welsh butter and locally made jam, washed down with tea.
  • Laverbread – known is welsh as bara lawr, this is a Welsh delicacy made from seaweed. It tastes better than it sounds! It can be bought in delicatessen and other independent shops stocking locally produced food.

Welsh is a growing language and we love it when visitors join in and use Welsh words. Why not try a phrase or two?