eDIL - Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language

The electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language (eDIL) is a digital dictionary of medieval Irish. It is based on the ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY’S Dictionary of the Irish Language based mainly on Old and Middle Irish materials (1913-1976) which covers the period c.700-c.1700. The current site contains revisions to c.4000 entries and further corrections and additions will be added in the coming years.

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Word of the Week[See More]


SUB was the basic word for a (red) berry in early Irish. A strawberry (SUB TALMAN 'berry of the ground') was distinguished from a raspberry (SUB CRÁEB 'berry of the branches'). These terms continue in Modern Irish as 'sú talún' and 'sú craobh'. It was in Classical verse, in descriptions of beautiful cheeks and mouths, that SUB was used most frequently. Lines such as 'deirge iná subh snuadh do leacan' (redder than a berry is the colour of your cheek) were considered fitting compliments for either men or women.

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STIP is perhaps the word with the most precise definition in all of eDIL. The meaning given is 'the sound of corn-stubble burning'. Other words for sounds worth exploring are SITSAIT 'the rustling or swishing sounds made by warriors' garments' and GLOIMM, which can be used for the noise of vessels being beached!

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MONGACH 'long-haired, hairy' is an adjective applied in medieval Irish literature to Samson, Christ, horses, wolves, bulls and sheep, amongst other things. In its extended uses, it can refer to vegetation (MONGACH MER is 'hemlock') and RÉTLU MONGACH, literally 'a hairy star', is the early Irish term for a comet.

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CARPAT was 'war-chariot' but, presumably because the shape of the chariot-body resembled the opposable parts of the mouth, CARPAT ÚACHTARACH and CARPAT ÍCHTARACH could also mean the upper and lower palate. In addition, there was an intriguing Old Irish legal term CARPAT AR IMRAM 'chariot on the move', which seems to have referred to a person who had stock but no land.

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