Where does the word ‘peat’ come from?



peat ‎(plural peats)


  1. Soil formed of dead but not fully decayed plants found in bog areas, often burned as fuel. [from 14th c.]

Etymology 1

Origin unknown; perhaps a borrowing from an unattested Pictish or Brythonic source.


I suggest that the word might ultimately be derived from Niger Congo languages:-

  • pẹtẹpẹtẹ – “mud” [Yoruba]

  • apịtị – “mud” and also “swamp” [Igbo]

  • bɛ̃’ɛ̃t – “mud” [Mooré/Mossi]

  • e-pat – “mud of fresh water” [Temne]

  • potopoto – “mud” [Wolof]

  • potoo – “mud” [Mandinka]

  • potopotoo – “mud clay” [Mandinka]

  • potopoto – “mud” [Bambara]


I’ll see if I can track down any other examples.  If anyone else reads this post and has anything to add then please let me know.


Czech and Slovak languages have words for ‘soil’ which seem to bear a resemblance to the Wolof, Mandinka and Bambara words for ‘mud’.  These are ‘poda’ and ‘puda’.