Confused about a plural form

I am bit confused by the way that some words in Welsh are given in the dictionary as headwords in their plural form with an associated singular form in brackets that then sometimes has its own different plural form. For example, I came across the word ‘gewynnau’. I tracked down this as being the plural of gewyn which I found only under the plural gïau (sinews, tendons, ligaments; nerves). So what’s going on – are gïau and gewynnau interchangeable as plurals or is there some difference in meaning and/or usage? And why not have gewyn as the headword and just give gïau, gewynnau as its plurals? The same would seem to apply to a lot of words from nature, like derwen and madarchen - why is the plural derw and madarch the dictionary headword and not the singular? Not my place to challenge lexicographical convention - I’d just like to understand what’s behind it!

gewyn in the plural is gewynnau, the singular of gïau is giewyn - whilst they mean the same, it’s not quite right to say that gïau is the plural of gewyn.

Out of interest, which dictionary are you using?


The reason here is that dictionaries usually list the root word. And in Welsh, some root forms are plural by itself, and the singular is formed by adding the ending “-en”/"-yn" (with occasional vowel changes in the middle)
For example ser (stars) -> seren (star)
Or plant (children) -> plentyn (child)
This mostly happens in objects that are expected to appear in plurals… you’d usually want to eat more than one strawberry, wouldn’t you? :wink:


Thank you, that makes sense now.

Right, thank you. That’s not really made clear in the dictionary I use, though I think it’s mostly a pretty good one - that’s the free online Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru at Don’t know if there’s anything you would recommend as a supplement or alternative? I do have a very old Geiriadur Mawr which looks as if it will be useful for bardic poetry but has its limitations otherwise!

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I have a Geiriadur Mawr too, but my go-to online choices are Geiriadur Academi (for English to Welsh) and the Lampeter University one (for both English to Welsh and Welsh to English) - sometimes a bit of cross-referencing is required though.


My favourite online dictionary is Gweiadur which goes in both directions (English–Welsh and Welsh–English)

It’s free but requires signup, and signing up is not possible at all times. (I’m not sure by which criteria they open and close these signup windows.)


@Hendrik, I just love that reference to strawberries! What a marvellous way to encapsulate the problem and its solution - bravissimo! :smile:


I emailed a few weeks ago and got a very polite reply saying that the site was undergoing work of some kind and they hoped to reopen reg. after that work was done. But the last few times ive checked, the number of registrations hadnt changed, so I dont know what the current situation is.