Cree Family History Network

The search for your Cree, Crie, Crea, Cre, Crey and Chree origins

The website has a specific section on the origins of the word and surname Cree. It would appear that a number are valid in a different context. The exchange of views in The London Illustrated News demonstrates how heated the debate can become.

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The Illustrated London News, February 28th, 1857

The Word Cree. - Can any of your readers inform me of the origin of the word "Cree". It is used as a verb in Yorkshire, to designate the softening of rice, wheat, or other similar articles by water in the oven. I have looked in several dictionaries and do not find the word, and I have asked the residents of several other counties and they did not know its origins, or indeed its meaning, never having heard it used before. I should also be glad to be informed if the word is used in any other country, and where?. - F.H.F., Doncaster.

The Illustrated London News, March 21, 1857.

The Word Cree. - In reply tp "F.H.F.", Doncaster, the word Cri, pronounced cree, is a common Welsh word, and signifies fresh, unleavened, raw. Bara Cri, primarily unleavened bread, is used to denominate a kind of cake, of flour and water, baked over a fire, which is still the usual mode of preparing bread among the most primitive peasants of the Principality. No doubt the Yorkshire verb is derived from this Celtic adjective. - P.Q.R., Ruthin.

In answer to a query in last week's Illustrated London News, as to the word "Cree" I beg to state that no doubt it takes its origin from the Gaelic Chree, heart; Ben-me-chree, in the Manx language, being "woman of my heart." In the Isle of Man the word is constantly used amongst the natives as a term of endearment, such as child chree, &c. - J.G.F. 

The Illustrated London News, May 23, 1857

ETYMOLOGY. - I have not yet seen any satisfactory derivation of the verb "to cree" which signifies "to seethe:" also "to pound," "to bruise." To say that it is derived from the Gaelic "cri" (the heart) is purely ridiculous. What has the heart to do with seething or pounding? When we say that one word is akin to, or derived from another, we must in all conscience take care that the words bear some decent resemblance to each other, not only in sound but in sense. It is just possible that the verb "to cree" may be of Scandinavian origin. But the word cree, according to Halliwell, is used in the northern counties of England as a substantive, denoting "a hut" or "sty," and it has the same signification in the lowlands of Scotland. This meaning of the word is decididly from the Gaelic "cru" or "cro" which signifies a small hut or sty. In Lowland Scotch it is written "croo," the oo being sounded like the French u, which is nearly ee. Now, one is curious to know how the word has found its way so far to the south; the probability is that it came to Cumberland from the Manks, and from Dumfriesshire, where Gaelic was once spoken, as evident from many names of places in that corner of Scotland. - D. Forbes.

The Illustrated London News, June 6, 1857

The Verb "to Cree." - To say that the verb "to cree," which signifies to seethe, to pound, or to bruise, is derived from or akin to "cru" (a hut), is, in my opinion, ludicrous; for what has a hut to do with pounding, or bruising? In South Wales people call bread made of newly-ground corn "bara crau," which in the Northwalian dialect is termed "bara cri" - i.e. unleavened bread. The Welsh word "creuo." which signifies to make anything fresh, is of the same root. The old Welsh handmills were called "Quern," or "Chwern," and also "Breuan," which went by the same name, and were used about eighty years ago, on the Highlands of Scotland and in the Islands of the Hebrides. "Breuan" is derived from "briwio" - to pound or grind; whence the Welsh "bara," English "bread," and the Greek "bora," food. Doubtless "cree" (to pound), "quern." "crau or cri," and "grind," are akin to each other. The Manx and the Irish "chree," which is akin to the Greek "ker" and the Latin "cor" (a heart), is of a totally different origin and signification, as well as the Anglo-Northern "cru" or "cro" (a hut), which may be of the same root as the Welsh "cor," whose first meaning is a circle (as the old Celts used to build their houses in a conical form, and the second a crib, or a hovel. - C. St Dervel Gadarn

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