A Conversation for CELTIC DEVON

River Tavy - origins of the name

Post 1

Ozzie Exile

I had heard that the origin of the name of the River Tavy was "small water" (In more modern Cornish Taw vyghan) - as Tamar meant "large water".

However recently I came across a site which suggested the origins might be the same as the River Taff in Wales.

Thefollowing site suggests that "Taff" has origins in the celtic word for flow, although it might have originally meant dark.


I also found the reference Interesting

It is likely that -wy is the most common suffix in the names of places with rivers. Its meaning conveys a river's winding meander. It is often shortened to -w, especially in areas under the influence of English.

Is the Tavy a corruption of Taffwy?

These links refer to Wales, but the origins are far broader as indicated by the reference to the Thames etc...

River Tavy - origins of the name

Post 2

Plymouth Exile

Richard Coates includes the river names Tame, Team, Tamar, Thames and Tavy in the 'ancient river name' category. His meaning of 'ancient' is unspecified, but other sources include the Welsh river names Taff and Teifi as other members of the list. Interestingly Coates states that 'Tavy' has late phonology, having a similar pronunciation to Teifi.

Coates also includes the Devon river Taw in the ancient category, which is similar to the Welsh river Tawe (both of which may have the Welsh/Brythonic etymology 'taw', meaning silence).

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River Tavy - origins of the name

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