Varied meaning of 'glas'?

Hi guys, just watching an episode of the excellent ‘Cynefin’ and seen ‘Maesglas’ translated as ‘Greenfield’. I have normally seen ‘glas’ as meaning ‘blue’ and ‘gwyrdd’ as meaning ‘green’. Sometimes in books and on tv ‘glas’ is translated as ‘blue’.
A little confusing, can anyone enlighten please?

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The problem here is that glas is a very old word, and while the more modern gwyrdd is used for green, glas can in fact be both blue and green, depending on context. The idea behind glas is not so much a colour itself, but the attribute you’d give to plants that are alive.

The opposite is llwyd, which is connected to “dead” things like rocks, so naturally you’d translate it as gray, but sometimes it’s used as brown, too. (Again, the Welsh word brown is much newer than llwyd.)

I hope I could shed some light on these old “colour”-words.


You certainly shed light for me. Thank you.


Thanks Hendrik. Very enlightening. Diolch.

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General interesting point, not all languages split the colour system the same way. They don’t divide the spectrum the same number of ways or in the same place. Germanic and Romance languages do it similarly enough you don’t notice, but once you look outside there it’s a whole new world. Yay languages!


If only Physics were the universal language. To me the colour of a cennin pedr / daffodil is about 580 nm. :laughing:


I believe it was Sir Isaac Newton who first used a prism to split the spectrum of white light (at least experimentally)?
As he was a Christian and 7 is considered a perfect number he saw and labelled the well known colours of the rainbow :rainbow:. As an (ex) Physics teacher I know that there are of course an infinite number of colours ( as illustrated by your description of the wavelength in nano metres). Some animals and birds can ‘see’ a far more detailed and wider spectrum (see the book ‘Sentient’ for a fascinating coverage :wink:).
Since the early English speaking scientists wrote the textbooks we are all stuck with just the 7… I’m glad to hear that the Welsh were more creative :wink::joy:.


They seem to have changed the naming of rainbow colours in schools. My 9 year old granddaughter recites them (from short to long wavelength) as purple, dark blue, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Whatever happened to violet and indigo? Should we start talking about ultra-purple radiation? :grin:

She (Izzy) attends a Welsh medium school, but when she recites the colours in either language, yellow is invariably melyn! :grinning:


Glas is also a word in Irish! It usually means green, but is traditionally used with less vivid greens of the natural word- perhaps the seaweed is glas, for example. The artificial, more vivid green as on the Irish and Welsh flags for example, is ‘uaine’.
But Irish glas also has that grey overlap just as Welsh! A ‘madra glas’ is not a green (or blue) dog, but a grey one, for example.

And I believe glas is used in Scottish gàdhlig as that grey-blue-green colour region, but I am not 100% sure on that.

This thread is diddorol iawn! Diolch for focusing on this vocab term!


Indeed you’re right, Gwendolyn. Glasgow / Glaschu means “green hollow”.
(I’m a Welshman who was brought up in Scotland but my knowledge of Scots Gaelic is limited to the names of mountains and highland geography.)


Interesting… I stopped teaching Physics in 1995 so I didn’t keep up with syllabi…
Indigo was always a made up colour to suit the 7 requirement as mentioned. Whatever happened to ROYGBIV - Richard of York gave battle in vain…??? A lovely if rather silly acronym. I like Welsh, it’s precise in many ways - they call a spade ‘rhaw’ (galw rhaw yn rhaw):wink:. E.e. Ty isaf Dinam neu Ty coch… As a Radio Amateur I would suggest we describe colours by their frequency… or possibly better, wavelength. We could then include ‘in the yellow range of the spectrum’… Such fun. Good luck to your granddaughter - my 2.5 year old grandson has all this to come…:slight_smile: Dal ati Izzy…:wink:
Update: My daughter, who teaches in an English primary school in Rochdale says nothing has changed there.


A couple of thousand years ago Hebrew had the same word for “yellow” and “green”. Don’t know how they distinguished between someone with jaundice and someone with seasickness.




Hooray! I can complete one of my tasks!
I want to learn Welsh because it’s is so interesting !


If Physics were the universal language I’d be illiterate as it went right over my head at school. Bizarrely though, 50+ years later, I still recall the definition of inertia which was given to us by our Physics teacher . There is no truth in the rumour that this is because I have been known to exhibit characteristics of that concept .


My inertial mass has grown so much in recent years that you wouldn’t even like colliding with me in outer space. :laughing:

My apologies. This is not only “off topic”, it’s off the planet :blush:


Diolch Hendrix very interesting