Attested:  Albion or Αλβιων mentioned by many classical authors

Where:  Britain

Name Origin:  PIE *albho- ‘white’, most likely referring to the white cliffs of Dover.  The name may have been transferred from Iberia, where a tribe of Albiones in the north-west was mentioned by Pliny.

Notes:  Across European languages a diverse range of specific objects appear to have been named from their whiteness: the Alps, dawn, elves, church vestments, swans, and skin lesions.  The argument that Albion originated as a Celtic word for the ‘upper world’ is spelled out on pp37-38 of Delamarre (2003), who thought that derivation from white cliffs was “improbable”, that personal names in Alb- were based on religious ideas rather than personal appearance, and that Welsh elfydd ‘world’, with medieval precursors spelled eluit, is a valuable parallel.  Not convincing.

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Last edited 22 September 2022    To main Menu