[welsh, welch]
See more synonyms for welsh on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object) Informal: Sometimes Offensive.
  1. to cheat by failing to pay a gambling debt: You aren't going to welsh on me, are you?
  2. to go back on one's word: He welshed on his promise to help in the campaign.
Also welch.

Origin of welsh

First recorded in 1855–60; perhaps special use of Welsh
Related formswelsh·er, noun

Usage note

Use of this verb is sometimes perceived as insulting to or by the Welsh, the people of Wales. However, its actual origin may have nothing to do with Wales or its people; in fact, the verb is also spelled welch.


[welsh, welch]
  1. of or relating to Wales, its people, or their language.
  1. the inhabitants of Wales and their descendants elsewhere.
  2. Also called Cymric, Kymric. the Celtic language of Wales.
  3. one of a white, lop-eared breed of swine of Welsh origin that produces a large amount of lean meat.
Also Welch.

Origin of Welsh

before 900; Middle English Welische, Old English Welisc, derivative of Walh Briton, foreigner (compare Latin Volcae a Gallic tribe); cognate with German welsch foreign, Italian
Related formsnon-Welsh, adjective, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for welsh

Contemporary Examples of welsh

Historical Examples of welsh

  • A Welsh rabbit, in the speech of the humorless, who point out that it is not a rabbit.

  • He is a curate—a Welsh curate;—you are yet Mr. Beaufort, a rich and a great man.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • In time, he became one of the most famous scholars in Welsh history.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • The Welsh people, by bloodless victory, have won the respect of all mankind.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • At this point the channel is so broad that the Welsh mountains can scarcely be distinguished.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for welsh



verb (intr often foll by on) slang
  1. to fail to pay a gambling debt
  2. to fail to fulfil an obligation
Derived Formswelsher or welcher, noun

Word Origin for welsh

C19: of unknown origin


  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of Wales, its people, their Celtic language, or their dialect of English
  1. a language of Wales, belonging to the S Celtic branch of the Indo-European family. Welsh shows considerable diversity between dialects
  2. the Welsh (functioning as plural) the natives or inhabitants of Wales collectively
Also (rare): Welch

Word Origin for Welsh

Old English Wēlisc, Wǣlisc; related to wealh foreigner, Old High German walahisc (German welsch), Old Norse valskr, Latin Volcae


  1. a white long-bodied lop-eared breed of pig, kept chiefly for bacon
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for welsh


Old English Wilisc, Wylisc (West Saxon), Welisc, Wælisc (Anglian and Kentish), from Wealh, Walh "Celt, Briton, Welshman, non-Germanic foreigner;" in Tolkien's definition, "common Gmc. name for a man of what we should call Celtic speech," but also applied to speakers of Latin, hence Old High German Walh, Walah "Celt, Roman, Gaulish," and Old Norse Valir "Gauls, Frenchmen" (Danish vælsk "Italian, French, southern"); from Proto-Germanic *Walkhiskaz, from a Celtic name represented by Latin Volcæ (Caesar) "ancient Celtic tribe in southern Gaul." The word survives in Wales, Cornwall, Walloon, walnut, and in surnames Walsh and Wallace. Borrowed in Old Church Slavonic as vlachu, and applied to the Rumanians, hence Wallachia.

Among the English, Welsh was used disparagingly of inferior or substitute things, hence Welsh rabbit (1725), also perverted by folk-etymology as Welsh rarebit (1785).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper