What is the difference between the Gauls and the Celts?

What is the difference between the Gauls and the Celts

The difference between the Gauls and the Celts is very fine. These terms both refer to invading peoples from eastern Europe. The difference lies in the fact that we have accepted the name “Celts” to qualify the colonists and the term “Gauls” for those who settled on the territory of present-day France.

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[EN VIDÉO] The Gauls, those fervent wine drinkers
The Gauls are traditionally consumers of beer and mead, but with the Roman invasion, this Celtic people quickly became fond of wine. Imported from Italy, then produced on site, this drink quickly established itself in Gaul. Inrap (Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research) and the Archeology pole of the Rhône department tell us about its history during this documentary.

To understand the slight difference that remains between the Gallic and the Celts, let’s study the origin of the word “Celt”.

The Gauls and the Celts, a common origin

The first appearance of this terminology comes from the Greek historian and geographer Hecataeus of Miletus, in the VIe century BC The term is a variation of kel-kol meaning “colon” in Indo-European. Literally, the Celts came to invade a territory already occupied by an indigenous people.

It must be said that in IVe century BC, the Celts occupied much of Europe. Came from steppes from Central Asia, they gradually migrate to the Atlantic. These same Celts are named in Greek literature Galatian, which means “the invaders”. In Latin, Galatian bECOMES Galli then, over the centuries, is transformed into “Gauls”.

Historical distinction between Gauls and Celts

If these two peoples merge, today we consider all the Gauls as Celts, but not all Celts like Gauls. Indeed, we name the invaders all of the Celts, but “the Gauls” designate the people who settled in Gaul, that is, more or less, present-day France. We owe this distinction in part to Julius Caesar. The Roman decided to call the space he had just conquered “Gaul”. Gauls and Celts are therefore from the same civilization, but the Gauls more precisely designate the French people of the time.


Impossible not to think of the adventures of the little Gaul Asterix ! His people were known for their courage and temerity. The Gauls weren’t afraid of anything, not even that the sky was falling on their heads. This legend persists, because that is what they would have answered to Alexander The Great to let him know that they weren’t afraid of him.

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