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]


CRIMMES is a lovely word. Derived from CREM and FEIS, this was literally ‘a garlic feast’. The term seems to have referred to an annual event held before Easter, when wild garlic was plentiful. Surviving references suggest that the garlic was added to milk and curds or cheese. CRIMMES is sometimes mentioned alongside SAMFIT ‘summer food’ which is said to consist of curds, butter and milk.

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RECONN ‘forethought’ is a word that is not yet listed in the Dictionary of the Irish Language. It appears in a series of wise sayings, sometimes attributed to Flann Fína mac Ossu (Aldfrith son of Oswydd), an Irish-educated king of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria from c. 685 to 705. The saying in question reminds us: FERR RECONN ÍARCONN ‘forethought is better than afterthought’ (RC xlv 80 § 23)

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CRANN by itself means ‘tree’ or ‘wood’, and ECH CRAINN and ECH CRANNDA can both mean ‘wooden horse’. There are references to two distinct wooden horses in medieval Irish literature. One is the well-known Trojan horse, which appears in the Irish translation of The Aeneid as ECH CRANNDA. The other is a brief and intriguing allusion to a less-well-known wooden horse (ECH CRAINN) made by Fiacha Figente which is said to have been raced at the assembly of Óenach Colmáin!

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DÍLECHTAE (Modern Irish DÍLLEACHTA) was a common medieval word for ‘an orphan’. In Early Modern Irish medical texts, it refers to the centre of the eye. This is in keeping with the use of Latin ‘pupilla’ and English ‘pupil’ to mean both ‘orphan’ and ‘the centre of the eye’, the latter sense deriving from the tiny image of ourselves – the orphan – that is reflected in the eye of the person looking at us.

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