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]


DUINETÁIDE is made up of DUINE ‘person’ and TÁIDE ‘concealment’. The term is sometimes mentioned alongside FINGAL ‘the killing of a relative’ and DUINEORGUN ‘person-slaying’, and the Annals of Ulster tell us how, in 1349, Donnchadh Riabhach was taken prisoner and killed I NDUINETÁIDE. In view of the contexts in which the word appears, it has suggested that it refers to murder followed by concealment of the body.

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SECHT ‘seven’ was often associated with significant or unusual people and events in medieval Ireland. Cú Chulainn is portrayed as having seven pupils in each eye, seven fingers on each hand and seven toes on each foot. And the hostel in which the ‘boasting contest’ takes place in the ‘Story of Mac Dathó's Pig’ is said to have seven paths through it, seven doors, seven hearths and seven cauldrons. Even in religious texts, seven seems to be a meaningful number, and we are told, for example, that a priest breathed ‘seven breaths of God’ (secht n-anāla Dē) on St Fursa’s back in what seems to be a gesture of appeasement (BColm. 96).

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PINGINN originally meant ‘a pennyweight’, the weight of a piece of metal, and had different values at different times. Later the term came to refer to a unit of monetary value, ‘a penny’. We know that silver pennies were first minted in Dublin at the end of the tenth century under the authority of Sitric III, the Norse king of Dublin. In the seventeenth century, though, Geoffrey Keating used PINGINN anachronistically when he claimed that anyone wishing to be baptised in Munster in the time of St Patrick – several centuries before the introduction of the penny – had to pay 'Patrick's baptismal fee' of TRÍ PINGINNE ‘three pennies’.

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CRÓNÁN was used in medieval Irish to refer to the purring of a cat. MEIGEL was the bleating of a sheep or the mewing of a cat. A number of different types of cat are distinguished in legal texts of the period: a cat that purrs is said to be called BREOINNE, a cat which mews was known as MEOINNE, and a cat which women allow to lie on a cushion all day (bis for cerchaill oc mnaib caidche) falls into the category of BAIRCNE!

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