Welsh Keywords: Gwiddon

From Planet 241

by Sara Huws

This is the thirty‐seventh contribution to our Welsh Keywords series – inspired by Raymond Williams’ Keywords – which offers contemporary perspectives on contested meanings of words in Welsh and how these shifting meanings continue to shape our society.

In Wales we have many ways to describe our witches. Gwiddon is one of the oldest. Dating back at least 800 years, it is also one of our most ambiguous. So much so, that it is only through the act of translation that it has come to mean ‘witch’. It is also a word that would become, through a little Enlightenment sleight of hand, the root of gwyddorau – our national lexicon for rational science.

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