Word Origin & History
O.E. Wilisc, Wylisc (W.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 O.H.G. Walh, Walah "Celt,
Roman, Gaulish," and O.N. Valir "Gauls, Frenchmen" (Dan. vælsk "Italian, French, southern"); from P.Gmc. *Walkhiskaz, from a Celtic name represented by L. Volcæ (Caesar) "ancient Celtic tribe in southern Gaul." The word survives in Wales, Cornwall, Walloon, walnut, and in surnames Walsh and Wallace. Borrowed in O.C.S. as vlachu, and applied to Romanians, hence Walachia. 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).