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.

See More ...

Word of the Week[See More]


SECAL 'rye' and TAES SECAIL 'rye dough' are mentioned often in medieval Irish texts, but the most remarkable references are not to rye as a crop or food-stuff but to people rubbing rye-dough on their skin in order to disguise themselves as lepers! One tale tells us that a character named Rón Cerr had calf's blood and rye-dough (fuil læig ┐ táes secail) rubbed on himself so that he might be mistaken for a leper (RC 13, 80). Another text says that Macha once rubbed rye dough and bog water (táes secail ┐ rota) on herself to achieve the same effect (Dinds. 161).

View Entry »


GOT 'stammering, lisping' had a particular use with regard to foreigners. It was applied to Norsemen and others, and in such instances seems to mean simply that their speech was intelligible. A medieval Irish tendency to dismiss other languages as meaningless babble is apparent also from a line of poetry in the Book of Rights. Using GOÍDELC 'Irish' in its wider sense of 'speech', the poem in question refers to 'deich ngoill can gaedelga', which seems to mean 'ten foreigners without [proper] speech' (BR2 591).

View Entry »


AINIMM survives as Modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic ANAM 'soul'. Now, as in the past, the word is opposed to CORP 'body', and as a body without a soul is a lifeless one, so CO N-ANMAIN 'with a soul' was often used to mean 'alive'. In medieval Irish tales, ANMAIN I N-ANMAIN 'life for life' was an appeal for mercy. Usually, three wishes were granted in return for sparing the life of someone who said these words. A well-known instance occurs in Fled Bricrenn when Cú Chulainn defeats but does not kill a giant who cries 'anmain i n-anmain' and is granted, as one of his wishes, the Champion's Portion at the ensuing the feast.

View Entry »


DATH 'colour' crops up in medieval Irish accounts of the colours of the winds. According to Saltair na Rann, for example, each of the four chief winds has its own particular colour: purple from the east, white from the south, black from the north and dun from the west. Between these points are eight other winds of various hues. Such texts presumably inspired the description of wind-watching in Flann O'Brien's 1939 comic novel 'The Third Policeman': 'People in the old days had the power of perceiving these colours and could spend a day sitting quietly on a hillside watching the beauty of the winds, their fall and rise and changing hues, the magic of neighbouring winds when they are inter-weaved like ribbons at a wedding'.

View Entry »


News & Events[See More]