Some Wonderful Welsh Phrases and Words Explained

Like so many things in Wales, Welsh phrases and words are a beautiful example of the countries heritage. Those who speak the language are preserving their past for future generations to enjoy.

We worked hard to preserve Cardiff’s past in the form of The Exchange Hotel, making it part of your present by restoring an important piece of Cardiff’s rich history to be enjoyed and treasured for generations to come.

With this in mind, we took some time to explore some Welsh phrases from the ancient language that are uniquely Welsh and simply wonderful to use in day to day life.

Animals

Perhaps during your stay in Cardiff, you’ll be lucky enough to spot some wildlife in one of the fabulous city centre parks, along one of the rivers or in Cardiff Bay itself.

Here, we’ll help you identify some of the animals you might see on your day out in Cardiff and give you the correct Welsh phrases for each one as well as an explanation of how to pronounce it and in what context it may be used.

Animal spotted: Jellyfish

pysgod wibli wobli - Welsh phrases for Jelly fish

Welsh name: pysgod wibli wobli

Pronounced: pess-god wib-lee wob-lee

These creatures can be sighted on a lovely walk down Cardiff bay and let’s face it, the Welsh version is much more fun to say.

Animal spotted: Fish

Welsh name: Pysgodyn wibli wobli

Pronounced: pess-god-en wib-lee wob-lee

An extension of the jellyfish is used to describe the humble fish. Funny as you’d think it would be the other way around.

Animal spotted: Butterfly

Welsh name: Pilli Pala

Pronounced: pil-ee pal-ah

Cardiff’s parks are filled with Pili Pala and this is a great example of how poetic the Welsh language can be.

Animal spotted: Owl

Welsh name: Gwdihw

Pronounced: Good-ee-whooo

One of our favourites as the pronunciation is similar to the noise an owl makes

Animal spotted: Bumblebee

Welsh name: Cachgi Bwm

Pronounced: Cark-gee bum

This is a Welsh word that if pronounced wrong, for example, if you leave out the ‘g’, could have quite a different meaning.

Cach translates to defecate so be careful when telling someone you’ve seen a lot of  Cachgi Bwm in the park that day.

Welsh Slang

These are all the Welsh phrases we found that are still used everyday, some are fairly obvious but its good to have a guide to help you incorporate them into everyday conversation.

When in Wales.

Slang word: Lush

Meaning: Lovely

How to use:

“Yum that pysgodyn wibli wobli and sglodion (fish and chips) was totally lush”

Slang word: Chopsy

Meaning: Mouthy or talkative

How to use:

“I met a lush girl last night but she was getting a bit chopsy towards the end of the date. “

Slang word: Tamping

Meaning: Angry

How to use:

“Stuck in traffic behind some sheep, absolutely tamping! “

Slang word: Ceri grafu

Meaning: Go and scratch or get lost

How to use:

“You are getting on my nerves ceri grafu”

Slang word: Cwtch

Meaning: Welsh cuddle

How to use:

“Aw love you look sad, come and have a cwtch.”

Slang word: Mitcher

Meaning: An unreliable person who is often absent

How to use:

“Gosh Tom’s off again, he’s such a mitcher.”

Welsh Phrases

Next, we have commonly used Welsh phrases and words that have stood the test of time.

These are other ways of saying well-known English phrases, some are completely unique Welsh phrases and others are simply fun to say.

Wnco mwnco

Pronounced: Win-ko Min-ko

Translation: him over there

Wnco mwnco - Welsh phrases

Meaning: the whereabouts of a gentleman

How to use:

Person one: “Have you seen a man with a pysgod wibli wobli?”

Person two: “Wnco mwnco” points

Igam Ogam

Pronounced: ee-gam o-gamm

Meaning: zig zag or not in a straight line

How to use:

“My walk home was igam ogam I was that tipsy”

Pendramwnwgl

Pronounced: pen-dram-oon-oogle

Meaning: flat on your face or head over heels

How to use:

“After walking home igam ogam I fell pendramwnwgl”

Mae hi’n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn

Pronounced: My-heen-broo-who-hen-oo-arr-geth-afurn

Translation: it’s raining old ladies and sticks

Meaning: it’s really pouring down with rain

How to use:

“Mae hi’n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn out there!”

Dew, dew!

Pronounced: Doo doo

Meaning: an expression of annoyance or exasperation

How to use:

“Dew, dew! I’ve just spilled my pint!”

Man a man y mwnci

Pronounced: mana-mana moon-key

Translation: might as well

How to use: 

“man a man y mwnci go the bar and get another pint then!”

Fel piso dryw bach ys y mor

Pronounced: Fell-peezo-dru-bark-hiss-er-more

Translation: a little wren’s wee in the sea

Meaning: it’s not that big a deal

How to use:

“Don’t be upset fell-peezo-dru-bark-hiss-er-more ”

Codi paisa r ol piso

Pronounced: Co-dee-pie-sy-ar-roll-peezo

Translation: no point lifting your petticoat after you’ve had a pee

Meaning: don’t be upset over something you can’t change

How to use:

“Codi paisa r ol piso”

English words that mean something else in Welsh

In and amongst all the lovely sing-song words there are few a Welsh phrases and words that when written down are English.

Their meanings in Wales, however, are something entirely different.

Here are a few English words that have totally different meanings in Welsh.

Moron

English definition: a stupid human

Welsh definition: carrots

Paid

English definition: getting money in return for work

Welsh definition: don’t

Hen

English definition: a female chicken

Welsh definition: old

Haul

English definition: to drag with effort

Welsh definition: sun

Dim

English definition: less bright

Welsh definition:  zero or nothing

Plant

English definition: a living organism that grows from the earth

Welsh definition: children

Brain

English definition: organ contained in the skull of vertebrates

Welsh definition: crows

Hurt

English definition: to suffer pain

Welsh definition: daft

Allan

English definition: man’s name

Welsh definition: way out or exit

Toes

English definition: finger-like appendages on human feet

Welsh definition: dough or pastry

Butt

English definition: to knock into or English slang for buttocks

Welsh definition: good friend

Buzzing

English definition: a noise from a fly or bumble bee

Welsh definition: unpleasant

Tidy

English definition: neat

Welsh definition: good

And they say English is the hardest language to learn, we wonder if they ever tried to learn Welsh.

It’s nice to be nice in Welsh

No matter which country you go to on your holidays. learning the basic pleasantries in any language is just good manners.

In Wales, say thank you, please and excuse me in local establishments because it’s nice to be nice in Welsh.

I’m sorry

Welsh: Mae’n ddrwg gen i

Pronounced: mine-droog-gen-ee

Please

Welsh: Os gwelwch yn dda

Pronounced: os-gwell-ook-in-dah

Thanks

Welsh: Diolch

Pronounced: dee-olk

You’re welcome

Welsh: Croeso

Pronounced: Kro-ee-sa

Good morning

Welsh: Bore da

Pronounced: Bor-ay na

Good evening

Welsh: Noswaith dda

Pronounced: Nose-wife- dnah

Goodbye

Welsh: Hwyl fawr

Pronounced: Hoo-eel vow-er

Make your way politely through a lovely day in Cardiff with these few simple pleasantries.

Everyday items

Some of the next Welsh phrases may not be commonly used today however they made the list because of the joy we feel when we say them.

Chwurligwagan

Pronounced: koo-url-ee-goo-gan

English: merry go round

chwurligwagan - Welsh phrases

Because we all want to ride on a chwurligwagan during our stay in Wales.

Poppity ping

Pronounced: pop-it-tee ping

English: Microwave

This is a phrase that is loved by all who say it and although the Welsh may say its uncommon we’d like to think that Welsh people everywhere are enjoying their tea tonight after having cooked it in their poppity ping.

Wilber

Pronounced: will-burr

English: wheelbarrow

Seems like the Welsh just got a bit lazy here and chopped out a few syllables from the English wheelbarrow to form one easy to say Welsh alternative.

Sboncen

Pronounced: sp-on-ken

English: squash

Similar to the word for owl, see animals, we feel the Welsh decided to use an onomatopoeia to describe the sport, squash.

Like the racket hitting the ball ‘sp-on’ and the ball hitting the wall ‘ken’.

Jinglarins

Pronounced: jing-lah-eenz

English: jewellery

A lot of jewellery does tend to be quite jingly so we understand where they were going with this one.

Sbensh

Pronounced: sspenz

English: under the stairs/pantry/larder/closet/chamber etc.

The English list of words the English have for small cupboards is long so the Welsh made it easy and gave them all one short and easy to use word.

Where to stay in Cardiff

After you’ve immersed yourself in the Welsh culture and adopted their native tongue using our helpful Welsh phrases and words guide rest your head at Exchange Hotel.

Our amazing hotel is going a long way to protecting the past of Cardiff, opening up a piece of the city’s history for all to enjoy.

Exchnage Hotel Cardiff - Welsh phrases

The heritage of the UK is important to us at Signature Living and we try, in any way possible to hold onto the things that made our country what it is.

The Welsh language is one of those things that many people in Wales are keeping alive for future generations to experience.

Book your stay today in a beautiful part of Wales and test out your Welsh language skills from Exchange Hotel. Call 0151 601 8801 or email info@signatureliving.co.uk.