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The term "celt" seems to have come about from a copyist's error in many medieval manuscript copies of Job 19:24 in the Latin Vulgate Bible, which became enshrined in the authoritative Sixto-Clementine printed edition of 1592. Where all earlier versions (the Codex Amiatinus, for example) have "vel certe" (the Latin for "but surely"), the Sixto-Clementine has "vel celte." The Hebrew has לעד at this point, which means "forever." The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary "[incline] to the belief that celtis was a phantom word," simply a misspelling of "certe." However, some scholars over the years have treated celtis as a real Latin word.
From the context of Job 19:24 ("Oh, that my words were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!"), the Latin word "celte" was assumed to be some kind of ancient chisel. Eighteenth-century antiquarians, such as Lorenz Beger, adopted the word for the stone and bronze tools they were finding at prehistoric sites; the OED suggests that a "fancied etymological connexion" with the prehistoric Celts assisted its passage into common use.
- Edgar C. S. Gibson (1899). Walter Lock (ed.). The Book of Job (Westminster Commentaries). London: Methuen & Co. Retrieved 2020-09-27.
- M. L. W. Laistner (1925-01-01). "Floscvli Philoxenei [Flosculi Philoxenei]". The Classical Quarterly. 19 (3/4): 192–195. doi:10.1017/S0009838800015846. JSTOR 636281.
- Oxford English Dictionary entry for "CELT (2)," quoted in Martin Burns. "Re: the word Celt". CELTIC-L, The Celtic Culture List. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .