Scoti

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Scoti or Scotti was the generic name used by the Romans to describe those who sailed from Ireland to conduct raids on Roman Britain.[1] It was thus synonymous with the modern term Gaels. It is not believed that any Gaelic groups called themselves Scoti in ancient times, except when referring to themselves in Latin.[1]

In the 5th century, these raiders established the kingdom of Dál Riata along the west coast of Scotland. As this kingdom expanded in size and influence, the name was applied to all its subjects – hence the modern terms Scot, Scottish and Scotland.

Etymology

The origin of the word Scoti or Scotti is uncertain. Charles Oman erroneously derives it from the Gaelic word Scuit (a man cut-off).

In the 19th century Aonghas MacCoinnich of Glasgow proposed that Scoti was derived from the Gaelic word Sgaothaich.[2] It has also been suggested that it comes from a Greek word skotos meaning darkness.[3]

The most attractive etymology, however, is to be found in the Gaelic languages themselves. The modern word scoth "the absolute best of something" (e.g. scoth na bhfear "the best of men") derives from a primitive Irish *scotos, plural *scoti. That the Irish (or band of Irish raiders) referred to themselves or their tribe as the *Scoti "The Best" is not inconceivable.

See also

References

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