Old Welsh Proverbs, Sayings and Phrases

We are a wise bunch! Here are a few old Welsh expressions. Feel free to add your own favourites in the comment section below!

"A fo ben, bid bont" - If you want to be a leader, be a bridge

"Bûm gall unwaith - hynny oedd, llefain pan ym ganed" - I was wise once: when I was born I cried

"Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon" - A nation without a language is a nation without a heart

"Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau." - Starting the work is two thirds of it

"Dyfal donc a dyr y garreg" - Tapping persistently breaks the stone

"Digrif gan bob aderyn ei lais ei hun" - Every bird relishes his own voice

"Dywed yn dda am dy gyfaill, am dy elyn dywed ddim" - Speak well of your friend; of your enemy say nothing

"Eang yw'r byd i bawb." The world is wide to everyone

"Gwna dda dros ddrwg, uffern ni'th ddwg" - Repay evil with good, and hell will not claim you

"Gwell dysg na golud" - Better educated than wealthy

"Gwell fy mwthyn fy hun na phlas arall" - Better my own cottage than the palace of another

"Gorau prinder, prinder geiriau" - The best shortage is a shortage of words

"Gorau Cymro, Cymro oddi Cartref"  - Best Welshman, Welshman from Home

"Gorau adnabod, d'adnabod dy hun." - The best knowledge is to know yourself

"Hedyn pob drwg yw diogi" - The seed of all evil is laziness

"Heb ei fai, heb ei eni" - He who has no faults is not born

"Hir yw pob ymaros" - All waiting is long

"Nid aur yw popeth melyn" - Everything that is yellow is not gold

"Nerth gwlad, ei gwybodaeth" - The strength of a nation is its knowledge

"Teg yw edrych tuag adref." - It is good to look homewards

"Tri chysir henaint: tân, te a thybaco" - Three comforts of old age: fire, tea and tobacco

"Tyfid maban, ni thyf ei gadachan" - The child will grow, his clothes will not

"Yr hen a ŵyr a'r ieuanc a dybia" -The old know and the young suspect

"Y mae dafad ddu ym mhob praidd" - Every flock has its black sheep

"Mae tegell yn ferwi and ty'n barod." - The kettles boiling and I'm ready.

"Dod yn ôl at fy nghoed" - To return to my trees - to relax and unwind, to calm your mind

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What is the old welsh saying
“ The person who gets off the stool ; loses his place “


Tricky. So, breaking it down:

yay cucum bitalbun les Morgan mein herr’.

The last part may be “llais môr gân mae’n hir”. Which would be an odd way of saying that the voice of the sea’s song is long (gân y môr would be more normal: the song of the sea). Cucum: maybe cychwyn (to start). Bitalbun… really not sure. Dal is to keep or hold, derbyn is to receive, dal ben might be to keep your head? Ah, the joys of phonetic Welsh… would be fascinated to see if someone with better knowledge of colloquial Welsh can make sense of this! Where in Wales was your Grandmother from? There may be more clues there…


I think that "amyrna ffyrni " should be: " (y) myn uffern i "

which is an expression of impatience/annoyance which invokes hell (uffern). “Myn” means “by”. Hence, something like “to hell with it !”. [ “What the hell”, “Bloody hell”, “hell’s bells”, etc. ]
The oath, “myn uffach i !” , (which might sound like a stronger oath to non-Welsh listeners ) means exactly the same thing.

“Uffern dân ! " is literally “hell fire”. [ The accent denotes a long-sounding "a " )

And finally, “Nefi wen !” is an euphemistic way of saying “Nefoedd wen” – literally “heavens white” [adjective follows noun] and meaning " pure heaven" . Broadly equivalent to “Good heavens !”,

My mother used to go one step further and use the comical " Nefi blw ! " [ This nonsensical Welsh phrase is understood to mean the same as “Nefi wen” , but it’s a play on words because it sounds in English just like " Navy blue".


Deborah Noland: A phrase you’re looking for (“A place for the soul to find peace”) is “Lle i enaid gael llonydd.” It’s my favourite one.


Rhoer fiddle yn y to. Literally translated it means put the fiddle in the roof I.e to give up

Lawrence bumtwig

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