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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ETTE can be the wing of a bird or the fin of a fish, but its most interesting application is in the phrase CENN FO ETTE 'head under wing'. This phrase refers to a symbol drawn in manuscripts to indicate that the words which follow are actually a continuation from the line below − i.e. these words have been tucked into an unused space so as not to waste valuable vellum just as a bird might tuck its head under its wing. The image below shows a 'cenn fo ette' from RIA MS 1225 (the Book of Uí Maine), fo. 3vb4.

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DO-ESTA 'is lacking' was the verb used in what seems today a long-winded system of medieval Irish computation. In this system, a number was indicated by subtraction from a larger one. Thus, 'I am 58' could be 'inge acht dī óenbliadain ni thesta dom thrī fichtib', literally 'except for two years I am not lacking 60' (Arch. iii 312)!

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SOINMIGE 'prosperity, affluence, happiness'. Like many other Irish words beginning with s-, SOINMIGE has its opposite in a word beginning with d-. DOINMIGE, then, is 'adversity, misfortune, misery'. The Old-Irish Milan Glosses neatly illustrate this pair of words in a quote which seems especially fitting as we move into 2017: cuingid techta a doinmigi hi soinmigi 'seeking to pass from adversity to prosperity' (Ml. 102c5) Happy New Year/Athbhliain Faoi Shéan 's Faoi Mhaise/Bliadhna Mhath Ùr to all our followers!

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SLEMNÁN 'a sleigh' seems to have been first used by Tadhg Ó Cianáin at the start of the seventeenth century to describe the mode of transport used by the Earls of Tyronne and Tyrconnell for crossing the Alps. In a now-famous passage, he wrote: doimh ... go slemhnānoibh i n-a ffoilenmhain ag treōrughadh gacha mēide nār uo hinaistir dhībh tar in imdhoraidh 'oxen ... with sleighs yoked to them bringing all of them that could not travel over the hard road' (Fl. Earls 88.15)

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