Ancient Word of the Day: Borbhan


The word Borbhan comes from Gaelic. It’s the gentle murmuring or purling sound made by a stream; also the sound of small stones falling.

Hiking in Ireland. Copyright Content Catnip 2008

Ancient example

”Help me to tune my doleful notes to gurgling sound Of Liffey’s tumbling streams: come, let salt tears of ours, Mix with his waters fresh.” – Edmund Spenser, 1595

A mystical stream filled with bright green microbial mats in Rotorua, New Zealand Copyright Content Catnip 2017


A river and a stream in Kyoto. Copyright 2018 Content Catnip

Kletteren is a Dutch word that’s similar in meaning. It’s perfectly onomatopoeic because it means the sound of both water and stones tinkering and clattering together at a fast pace.

2 thoughts on “Ancient Word of the Day: Borbhan

  1. Content Catnip – Catnip, The World. – Digital dawdler, foodie, bookworm, culture vulture, rainbow lorikeet perennially in love with the arts, history and science. Constantly seeking inspiring people, knowledge and places.
    Content Catnip says:

    Yeah it’s a lovely word, it is onomatopoeic….not sure if that is the right spelling for that… but yeah borban sounds like the tinkling of pebbles. I hope you and Muky are doing well Jeremy take care

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