continued. . .


D. Geraint Lewis (1994) Geiriadur Gomer i’r Ifanc [a.k.a. Gomer’s Dictionary for Young People]. Llandysul: Gwasg Gomer, ISBN 1-85902-161-1, £15.95 h/b (previously £25.00); prices including postage: £16.95 (UK); £21.42 (Europe); £28.35 (Rest of world).

Geiriadur Gomer FEATURES: 774pp; illus.; ‘22,000 words defined in Welsh including sample sentences, idioms, place-names & abbreviations; appendices listing money, numbers, weights and measures, and a full list of words causing mutations; irregular forms of plurals, verbs and adjectives listed under separate headings’.

Not principally a bilingual dictionary, and not specifically for learners, but it does have English translations as well as Welsh definitions, and an English–Welsh index. Don’t be put off by the ‘young’ bit in the title – people of all ages say they find it useful. Plans are afoot for a CD-ROM version.



D. Geraint Lewis (1999) Geiriadur Cynradd Gomer [‘The Gomer Primary Dictionary’]. Llandysul: Gwasg Gomer, ISBN 1-85902-758-X, £12.95 h/b (ISBN 1-85902-763-6, £9.95 p/b).

Geiriadur Cynradd FEATURES: 175x245mm; 214pp; illus. Peter Brown & Graham Howells; ‘A lively colour illustrated Welsh dictionary that meets the requirements of the National Curriculum for Key Stage 2 pupils, comprising 3,000 definitions and nearly 250 colour illustrations together with a comprehensive English–Welsh section, grammar notes and some useful lists.’ WELSH–ENGLISH ONLY.


Amery, Heather (1996, 2001) Y Geiriadur Lliwgar [‘The Colourful Dictionary’]. Cardiff: Gwasg y Dref Wen, ISBN 1-85596-275-6, £7.99 h/b.

Geiriadur Lliwgar FEATURES: 64pp; illus. (colour); ‘A revised edition of the Welsh version of the Usborne First 1000 Words containing many new words and objects illustrated in full colour.’


Boore, Roger (1999) Geiriau Bob Dydd: Children’s Picture Dictionary of Everyday Welsh Words. Cardiff: Gwasg y Dref Wen, ISBN 1-85596-350-7, £7.99 h/b.

Geiriau Bob Dydd FEATURES: 48pp; 230×230mm(??); illus. (colour); ‘A colourful and useful volume for all children learning to talk and read in Welsh, presenting simple words and subjects, colours and numbers, by illustrating various familiar situations together with a short glossary; for 2–6 year old children.’

WHAT’S THE WORD FOR . . .? new!

Williams, Carol (2002) What’s the Word For . . .?: Beth yw’r Gair Am . . .?. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, ISBN 1-7083-1736-7, £4.99 p/b.

Beth yw'r Gair Am . . .? FEATURES: ii/126pp; 210×148mm; over 100 two-colour illustrations; approx. 1,500 headwords; ‘An illustrated Welsh-English/English-Welsh dictionary comprising over 1,500 words, with help with mutations for Welsh learners, together with sections presenting the time, animals, food, sports, clothes and parts of the body; for 7–11 year-old children.’

A review from, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council:
Whether you are a Welsh learner or a Welsh speaker who needs to brush up on vocabulary, this is an attractive and clever little dictionary especially for you, compiled by Carol Williams for the University of Wales Press.
      The format is convenient and it is easy to use to gain access to the 1,500 or so words listed. Not only will you learn to use this dictionary but you will also be helped to develop further your higher order reading skills.
      You will find that it is much more than just a dictionary because it invites you to talk about pictures, to read and write in Welsh and, more importantly, to enjoy yourself!
      The dictionary is divided into two sections: Welsh/English and English/Welsh. The words are arranged in alphabetical order with the Welsh alphabet appearing on the edge of the page in the Welsh/English section and the English alphabet acting as a similar reminder in the English version. The two alphabets are, however, quite different.
      Information about words in the Welsh/English section is clearly explained and you will find the information about language structure on page 121 onward invaluable to your understanding of this dictionary. You will read about punctuation marks and words which look the same but have two completely different meanings, and how to find plurals which look different from the singular word, while help is at hand to find those elusive words the first letters of which sometimes change – nothing is simple!
      At the beginning of the dictionary you are given useful information about parts of speech which are explained in both Welsh and English, such as ‘a’ for ‘adjective’ and ‘be’ for ‘verbnoun’.
      We are told that the English/Welsh section of the dictionary is simpler, with easy steps to follow when you need to find the Welsh translation of an English word; examples are given to help you on your way while you are encouraged to write a whole sentence with your newly-discovered words.
      I have already stated that this is much more than just a dictionary and the website dedicated to it: will provide you with additional notes for teachers and parents, a Welsh version of ‘Using the Dictionary’, suggested tasks and a section on discussing the pictures.
Eirlys Eckley


Prys, Delyth and J. P. M. Jones (1998) Y Termiadur Ysgol: Termau wedi’u safoni ar gyfer ysgolion Cymru. [‘The Schools Terminological Dictionary: standardised terms for use in schools in Wales’]. Cardiff: ACCAC, ISBN 1-86112-180-6, £12.00 p/b.

Y Termiadur Ysgol FEATURES: 668pp; “This dictionary includes the technical vocabulary needed for teaching through the medium of Welsh in schools from the primary level to GCSE examinations. It pays special attention to science, mathematics, art, music, technology, information technology, physical education, religious studies, history, geography and general administration of education.”

Not a general language dictionary but a specialised glossary of terms. Now available on CD-ROM.


Griffiths, Bruce (ed.) and Dafydd Glyn Jones (assoc. ed.) (1995) Geiriadur yr Academi: The Welsh Academy English–Welsh Dictionary. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, ISBN 0-7083-1186-5, £45.00 h/b. Fourth impression with minor emendations (i.e. errata and a few additions), July 2000.

Geiriadur yr Academi FEATURES: lxxxii/1710pp; 270×201mm; detailed sections (59pp!) on orthography and pronunciation, mutations, prepositions, verbs; select bibliography. Now has sober cloth cover plus glossy wrapper (previous printings had printed laminated cover with horrible rigid spine). Colloquially known as Geiriadur Bruce (‘Bruce’s Dictionary’). ENGLISH–WELSH ONLY.

CLAIM: ‘The most comprehensive English–Welsh dictionary ever compiled, including synonyms, illustrative quotations, idioms, specialist and technical terms etc. together with a concise morphology of the Welsh language.’

BACKGROUND: The Academy Dictionary began many years ago under the direction of Dr Bruce Griffiths, Lecturer in French at the University College of North Wales (Bangor). The aim was ‘to gather together and coordinate all the small technical vocabularies that had been published, especially since 1950, filling the gaps as well as possible; [ . . . ] at the same time the wish was to cover the whole range of registers of both languages [ . . . ] – the colloquial, everyday, vulgar register as well as the technical and literary. We would include idioms, similes, proverbs, even quotations from Shakespeare and the Bible, and names of people and places. Where possible, the richness of Welsh dialects would be demonstrated’ [Bruce Griffiths, Llais Llyfrau Winter 1998, my translation]. An ambitious project indeed! The editors took as their starting-point the English–French side of Harrap’s Shorter French and English Dictionary (the 1975 edition) and added Welsh translations. While the Academy dictionary goes only from English to Welsh and not vice versa, its remit was somewhat wider than the Harraps text and the team’s lexicographical connections seemingly tenuous; one wonders if they had any idea what they were taking on. (Dr Griffiths has come to the sad conclusion that “life is too short to spend on something like this”, or so he claims in an article from the Independent newspaper – but perhaps he’s just putting himself down.) However, the editors have now finished chewing what they bit off: the results of this Herculean labour were published in 1995. An online version will supposedly be available one day, currently covering only letter A: see below.

ASSESSMENT: Enormous, ambitious, arcane, unwieldy, largely archaic in both form and content, almost excessively comprehensive in some areas and definitely inadequate in others. The scale of the work is impressive: truly a magnum opus. “To them both the Welsh Academy owes a debt which can scarcely be imagined, much less measured,” says its President of the Dictionary’s editors in his prefatory remarks, and perhaps that debt is owed by the entire Welsh-speaking community, if David Lloyd George is correct in his estimation of the value of a dictionary to a language. As noted above, Dr Griffiths himself seems less convinced of the value of his own achievement – but let’s not underestimate the dedication and sheer grinding toil involved in producing a work of this size. It’s an impressive achievement in terms of scope alone: 16 types of bitter-cress and 39 species of vetch are listed, not to mention the 23 milk-vetches! The total number of words in the entire text (i.e. not just headwords) is around two million. This is the definitive large English–Welsh dictionary: it will be a very long time before another is produced on such a scale. However, the breadth impresses more than the depth. The translations are multifarious, approximate and largely undiscriminated; useful everyday idiom takes second place to obscure terminological detail; genuine translations are not distinguished from coinages (which are useful things, but not the same as translations); entries adhere to an arcane, counter-intuitive set of conventions not fully or clearly explained in the front matter; and the haphazard, thoughtless presentation of the material makes it painfully hard to negociate – just try finding your way around the solid columns of dense text at the larger entries. As for the target language, how are we supposed to choose between 16 translations of puffball? Is there really an established Welsh term for puff-adder (an exotic poisonous snake, though, uncharacteristically, it’s not made clear exactly which sort), or is GYA’s term chwydd-wiber just a suggestion? The tone is set from the start; with a mammoth list of some four hundred abbreviations and subject fields, including such out-of-the-way areas of vocabulary as Cavalry, Conchology and Ropemaking, and with terminology as archaic as ‘Domestic Economy’, ‘Mohammedan’ and, believe it or not, ‘Automobilism’, we see that this is going to be a determinedly traditionalist dictionary. The typography too is many years behind its time, which does nothing to make the text more accessible, and high-quality printing and paper are marred by a cheap, flashy binding unlikely to withstand serious use for long [the latest printing, July 2000, has a more serviceable-looking cover]. Contrary to what you may have seen opined elsewhere, this is not really something you’re likely to buy for yourself, unless you’re extremely keen. But the scope being so vast, you will find things here that you will not find in any other dictionary, especially if you have a good level of Welsh and are prepared to work hard to find what you want. It’s well worth asking a university library to buy it.

(catalogue) (diolch i Richard Houdmont, UWP)

ONLINE VERSION: (letter A only, so far)

SECOND OPINIONS: A perceptive review of GYA can be found on the NAACLT (North American Association for Celtic Language Teachers) website:

FOOTNOTE: I feel I should point out that several people disagree strongly with my assessment, and insist that GYA is in fact essential for the serious learner. Of course I have absolutely no wish to discourage anyone from buying this book if they feel like it, and know what they’re getting. My point is that, while the breadth of its terminological coverage is certainly impressive, the presentation is disorganised and unhelpful, the translations often unserviceable, and the treatment of the core language, which is what really matters for the learner at any level, very disappointing for a book of this scope – and this price, since after all £40 ($65 or so) is still quite a lot of money for a book. A serious bilingual dictionary should give just as much emphasis to idiom and style (formal versus slangy, dated versus trendy, and so on) as to endless lists of obscure technical vocabulary. To illustrate what I mean, I have added some detailed analysis of the coverage of GYA (i.e. the range of headwords and compounds listed), as well as some comments on presentation and layout. As ever, Gwybodiadur relishes constructive criticism and informed debate, so comments are welcome, either at feedback @


Thomas, R. J., Gareth E. Bevan et al., eds. (1950–2003): Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru [‘The University of Wales Dictionary’; a.k.a. A Dictionary of the Welsh Language]. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. 4 vols, 195×272mm: Vol. 1 (a–ffysur) xx/1366pp, ISBN 0-7083-0504-0, £55.00 h/b; Vol. 2 (g–llys) xxxii/925pp, ISBN 0-7083-0981-X, £45.00 h/b; Vol. 3 (m–rhywyr) xxxvi/859pp, ISBN 0-7083-1530-5, £45.00 h/b; Vol. 4 (s–Zwinglïaidd) xvi/748pp, ISBN 0-7083-1804-5, £45.00 h/b. WELSH–ENGLISH ONLY.

Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru

This is more or less the Welsh equivalent of the 20-volume OED (Oxford English Dictionary): a huge, scholarly endeavour to map the language in its historical entirety. The work began some eighty years ago, the results being published periodically in uncut fascicles, but now at last (2003) the end of the alphabet has been reached. And yes, there is a letter Z: in case you’re wondering, the last word in the dictionary is Zwinglïaidd (‘Zwinglian’), the adjective relating to the doctrine of the Swiss theologian Zwingli. Now the editors have gone back to expand A and B, which were less thoroughly treated the first time around, a task which will take five years. You can see the early proofs at their website in the form of downloadable PDF files. The finished work has around 85,000 entries illustrated by nearly half a million citations, with 340,000 Welsh definitions and 300,000 English synonyms. A Web-based version of the whole dictionary, minus citations, is planned, along with a spelling dictionary.

GPC is not principally a bilingual dictionary, but as with Geiriadur Mawr, Geiriadur Gomer etc, brief English translations follow the Welsh definitions. You can see sample pages at This is a book for the academic or serious enthusiast, not one that learners would normally consider buying, but you can always try persuading a university library to acquire it. The GPC website (below) is well worth a visit.

ADDRESS: Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth SY23 3HH (tel: +44 (0)1970 627513, fax: +44 (0)1970 627066)
E-MAIL: or
WEBSITE: or or


Russon, Linda (1996) Y Geiriadur Bach: Le Petit Dico [‘The Little Dictionary’]. Aberystwyth: Y Ganolfan Astudiaethau Addysg. ISBN 1-85644-970-X. £4.99 p/b.

Le Petit Dico FEATURES: viii/312pp, approx. 150 ×210mm, dictionary use exercises, instructions to the class, French verb tables. “Over 10,000 words.” Designed for those learning French through the medium of Welsh, to about GCSE level.

Y Geiriadur Bach is perhaps a confusing choice of title, given that it has been in use for another dictionary for over forty years.


Davies, Meirion et al. (2000) Geiriadur Ffrangeg–Cymraeg Cymraeg–Ffrangeg: Dictionnaire Français–Gallois Gallois–Français [‘French–Welsh Welsh–French Dictionary’]. Aberystwyth: Y Ganolfan Astudiaethau Addysg, ISBN 1-85644-418-X, £19.95 h/b.

CAA French-Welsh FEATURES: vi/1430pp, approx. 160×240mm. French verb tables, numbers, expressions of time, how to write letters in French. “Over 55,000 headwords, over 195,000 translations. Intended for those learning French through the medium of Welsh, to A-level and beyond.”


Greller, Wolfgang (1996) Geiriadur Almaeneg [‘German Dictionary’]. Aberystwyth: Y Ganolfan Astudiaethau Addysg, ISBN 1-85644-969-6, £4.99 p/b.

small CAA German-Welsh FEATURES: 317pp, approx. 150 ×210mm, map of Germany, dictionary use exercises, instructions to the class, German verb tables. “Over 10,000 words.” Designed for those learning German through the medium of Welsh, to about GCSE level.


Greller, Wolfgang et al. (1999) Geiriadur Almaeneg–Cymraeg Cymraeg–Almaeneg: Wörterbuch Deutsch–Walisisch Walisisch–Deutsch [‘German–Welsh Welsh–German Dictionary’]. Aberystwyth: Y Ganolfan Astudiaethau Addysg, ISBN 1-85644-417-1, £14.95 h/b.

large CAA German-Welsh FEATURES: xii/970pp, approx. 160×240mm. “Over 60,000 headwords, over 150,000 translations, Table of German verbs, Idioms, Literary and colloquial Welsh and German, Terms from games, politics, business, science, the media, computing, law, education and the natural world. Intended for those learning German through the medium of Welsh, to A-level and beyond.”. GERMAN–WELSH–GERMAN.



Lewis, D. Geraint (forthcoming) Geiriadur Gomer i’r Ifanc [on CD-ROM]. Cardiff: MEU Cymru, ISBN 0000873608, £50.00.

No publication date available.

Termiadur Ysgol

Prys, Delyth and J. P. M. Jones (2000) Y Termiadur Ysgol [on CD-ROM]. Bangor: Canolfan Bedwyr, ISBN 0000873667, £25.00 + VAT + postage.

FEATURES: “Contains several revisions and additions to the original book. The Termiadur Ysgol is suitable for school children, students, teachers, translators and anyone else who requires a technical vocabulary whilst working (on the computer) in Welsh and English. You will be able to add to your vocabulary by downloading updates and new terms via the internet. To locate a term in Welsh or English type it in one language and the term will appear in the other language. It is possible to toggle between the two languages at the click of the mouse button.”



MEU Cymru and Canolfan Bedwyr have an electronic dictionary called CysGair. It contains some 45,000 headwords and phrases and costs about £20. A 30-day demo of CysGair accompanied by samples of other Canolfan Bedwyr products can be downloaded free (9Mb) from

See also SOFTWARE for spellcheckers and downloadable minidictionaries/vocabulary tools.


Nodine’s Searching Lexicon

Mark Nodine’s famous Searching Lexicon, sometimes known as GMN (Geiriadur Mark Nodine), is the first and the best-known English–Welsh dictionary on the Web. Currently the figures are as follows: English–Welsh: 15,034 references (including 1,452 phrases); Welsh–English: 22,192 references (647 phrases, 919 cross-references, and 41 obsolete words). ‘Only 15,239 of the words on the Welsh–English side have definitions or cross-references so far.’ Speed of lookup is excellent, at around two seconds – quicker than any printed dictionary. You can do quite sophisticated “partial word” searches too: for example, the query string “^[cg]*i$” will find all the words that begin with c or g and end with i.

From the lexicographical point of view, it is designed to avoid many of the classic faults and inadequacies of Welsh bilingual dictionaries; you might like to test it out against the various criteria on my What you Need in a Welsh Dictionary page. For example, it has helpful little notes to help you avoid choosing the wrong translation:

Accennod is the kind of accent that appears above a letter.
Acen is the kind of accent that lets people know where you are from.

Gallu is predominantly used in S. Wales.
Medru is predominantly used in N. Wales. Compared to “gallu”, it has the additional sense of “know how to”.

There are also handy hints on usage:
You cannot use a person as the direct object of “maddau”; a person is always an indirect object and is introduced with “i”. Thus, you would “maddau pechod” (forgive a sin), but say “maddewch i mi” (forgive me).
The Welsh side of the dictionary can cope with both mutated words and conjugated verbs. ‘When you translate from Welsh to English using “Whole word” mode, the lookup engine attempts to undo any mutations before looking up the word. It also recognizes and explains most conjugated verb forms.’

The Searching Lexicon comes as part of Mark’s online Welsh course, and includes a Spellchecker, a Metadictionary (tracing inflected and mutated words back to the citation form), a Glossary of Grammatical Terms, and a section on Stress in Welsh Pronunciation by Briony Williams, the author of a PhD on the subject.

Finally, the Lexicon has taken on another useful application with its link to Llyfrgell Owen, the Welsh Gutenberg project. You can click straight through from citations in the Llyfrgell to look up the relevant word in the Lexicon.

[*] If you’re using a browser so ancient that it can’t handle forms (pretty unlikely in this day and age), and so can’t be used for searching the dictionary, you can view the entire text in ASCII at the following URLs (bear in mind that this naturally gives you a gigantic page which takes ages to load). (English–Welsh) (Welsh–English)

Camu Online Dictionary (Lampeter)

A searchable online dictionary from the Welsh Department of the University of Wales at Lampeter, the people behind the online Welsh course Camu. It contains over 250,000 headwords and is regularly updated. There’s a form to add your suggestions for additions.

BBC Learn Welsh Online Dictionary new!

A new 60,000-word English–Welsh and Welsh–English searchable online dictionary, with RealAudio clips of 1,200 often-used words, part of the exciting new Learn Welsh area of the BBC website. “Try looking up ‘show’. The dictionary knows this can be both a noun (sioe) and verb (dangos and arddangos). When you click on ‘CONJ’ (conjugate) for either verb, you’ll see the 20-or-so verb forms as you’d hear them in both north and south Wales.”

Linguru Interactive Dictionary Project

Linguru logo A completely new interactive online Welsh dictionary from David Houghton and his cousin Paul. You download their stylish purpose-built browser, and use it to view the data as accumulated so far. Furthermore, you can upload your own contribution to the dictionary whenever you connect. “It has tools to generate word tables, parse words, and find entries that interest you.” There’s also a built-in web-browser which links the dictionary to the BBC’s Welsh news pages (though it can be used to browse any page). Clicking on a word in the browser takes you to its entry in Linguru, an ideal way to build vocabulary-learning into your online routine. If the word isn’t there, suggest it! I urge you to join and contribute to the dictionary, if only as a means of improving your vocabulary.
[June 2003: now back online after problems with hosting.]

Y Geiriadur Gweol

A Welsh–English web dictionary, in page format, from the Wales–Catalonia website: “an adaption of a rudimentary Welsh–Catalan dictionary which we are expanding bit by bit . . . 10,000 headwords, 65% as yet in skeletal form, but with 35% explained in full”. Contains some interesting definitions and etymologies as well as translations, and specialises in “items which are not to be found in existing dictionaries, and which may be of limited usage . . . Some of the entries, definitions or comments are not found in any other existing Welsh dictionary – online or print versions. If you can’t find it in your own dictionary, it might be here!”. Not searchable (i.e., you read through the wordlist). Welsh–Catalan also available, as well as samll texts in other language combinations.

Welsh Academy Dictionary

The Academy Dictionary (GYA) is supposed to be going online (and has been for some years now). It should be useful, as long as they put some thought into the design of the site. So far there’s only letter A, with the wordlist for the entire letter down the side in one enormous frame that takes ages to load, and no key to the abbreviations and conventions used. Don’t hold your breath.

Other online Welsh dictionaries and glossaries

. . .are a mixed bunch, and include the following:

See also SOFTWARE for downloadable minidictionaries/vocabulary tools.

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© 1999–2004 Harry Campbell
Last updated: April 2004