Among the Celts, a composer of praise poetry (and, on occasion, its counterpart of dispraise or satire). The word is almost certainly of Indo-European origin but has no obvious cognates outside the group of Celtic languages: from a common Celtic bardos are derived the Gaelic, Manx and Irish bard, Welsh bardd, Cornish barth and Breton barz. The basic meaning appears to be ‘praise singer’, even if the professional and social status of such figures varied from age to age and from culture to culture. In Scots Gaelic ‘bard’ became the generic term for poet. (The development of ‘bard’ in English to indicate a poet of lofty imagination, inspired by mysterious powers, is largely a product of Romanticism.)
For an extended use of the term to refer to epic singers of non-Celtic peoples see Aoidos; Epics; Mongol music; and Central Asia, §2.
Bard: Medieval and post–medieval Wales and Cornwall...