Map of local word for "beer" in each European country

(Click to embiggen) Feòrag NicBhrìde has provided us with a vital cartographic reference: a map of Europe showing the word for “beer” in each country. The Essential Map of Europe and Environs. (Thanks, Charlie!) READ THE REST

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How do you pronounce the Swedish / Danish / Norwegian word? It looks like “oi!” which is pretty much how I ask for beer at the end of a hot summer night - only word that can migrate from thought to mouth.

Swiss German: Biär

I find Google Translate helpful for simple words and phrases:

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and beer in australia is “fosters”

Thanks. I will add that now.

Both “bjór” and “öl” are valid in Icelandic

A word of warning for those visiting Jersey: no one speaks Jèrriais any more and they won’t understand what “biéthe” means. I’m Jersey born and bred and I’ve never heard it before.

Man walks into a bar and pulls out a map . . .


Interesting that Finnish is using a variety of Øl. Finnish is not generally related to other Indo-European languages so I guess it’s a loan word.


Manx also, I believe, has no native speakers left, nor is Cornish widely used. I also doubt you need any Latin to buy a beer in the Vatican, should it be available, but these languages are there because they’re interesting to me.

The project started because I began to notice that there aren’t many words for “beer” - four basically, with a few extra unique ones. I wanted to map it to see if there were any obvious patterns. The most interesting thing, to me, is the apparently similarity between the Basque word (garagardoa) and the Armenian (garejur).

Anyway, I appreciate hearing about words I missed!


I briefly studied Norwegian and the word for “beer” was one of the first I learned. I was told it was pronounced like the “oo” in “food”, so the Norwegian word could just as easily be spelled “ool”.

That’s Øl (‘Ø’, lowercase ‘L’) , not Øi (‘Ø’, uppercase ‘i’). I’d pronounce it ‘oil’, in SW Norway.

Interesting that Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and northern Spain - all settled by one branch of the Celtic culture - have similar words for ‘beer’, distinct from the ‘Gaelic’ territories (the other branch).

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I’m surprised that Switzerland is blank but is, presumably, some variation of “beer”. You’d think there’d be a mix of French and Italian variations depending on where you were at.

As far as I know, there isn’t any special Swiss-German -French, or -Italian word for beer. In the German speaking bits of Switzerland, it’s “Bier”, in the French speaking bits, it’s “bière”, and in the Italian speaking bits it’s “bira”

With regards to the UK, Ale and Beer are different things.

Beer comes from the Latin bibere ‘imbibe’, so just means drink. The Proto-Indo-European root is poi-. From which we also get ‘poison, potion and potable’. In Old Church Slavonic it takes the forms: piti, pijǫ, pijęši meaning ‘to drink’. I suspect this is also the origin of the Slavic piwo, pivo, pyvo etc but can’t be sure.

Ale comes from a word meaning ‘bitter’ The same root gives us alum and aluminium. Despite what the map says words from this root and meaning ‘beer’ occur in Slavic and Baltic languages also.

The Spanish ‘[cerveza][3]’ etc, are "perhaps related to Latin cremor “thick broth,” or of Gaulish origin (cf. Middle Irish coirm “beer”). “Connection with ceres (as a drink from grain) is very dubious”. I suspect Welsh cwrw (i.e. kooroo) and Cornish Korev is from the same source.

Only two links per post so this is 1 of 2.

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No they’re not. It’s a 19th century urban legend. One word comes from the Anglo-Saxons, the other from the Vikings, that’s all. If you want a word for unhopped ale, your best bet is “gruit”.


Hungarian sör is possibly related to ‘sour’ from PIE sūro , but Hungarian is not an Indo-European language so it would have to be a loan word and all their neighbours call it beer or pivo. So perhaps this is unlikely.

Basque (Nth Spain) is of course a language isolate and so garagardoa is unrelated to any English word. Georgian ludi is also non Indo-European.

Can anyone fill in the gaps

In UK there is only one word for Beer, that word is Beer. Ale is a sub-type of beer, Lager is also a different sub-type of beer.