the tenth letter of the Irish alphabet, was in the Ogham
alphabet called by the name muin `
' and was the first
letter of the third aicme or letter-group,
1 in early Irish orthography the letter m represents two
i In the following cases it was a voiced nasal labial:
initial, folld. by a vowel, l or r;
(b) in the initial combination
(c) before b and p;
(d) medial and final after a vowel
where it represents early -mm (< mb, mp, sm, dm): in these
cases it was by O.Ir. scribes generally doubled in order to
distinguish it from lenited m, a practice which continued to
be common during the entire Mid.Ir. period. E.g. am(m)
< Indog. *esmi, cf. Lat. sum; cam(m) < *camb; ammus
(e) after l, n, and r, where no intermediate vowel
has fallen out, e.g. calma, ainm, cuirm.
(f) in eclipsis of b,
b > m (written mb). In dán díreach unlenited m was classed
for purposes of rhyme with ll, nn, ng, and rr, see Meyer,
Meyer Prim., p. 7
ii In other cases medial or final m represents lenited m
(voiced spirant); in late Mid. and Mod.Ir. denoted by mh
E.g. sam (cf. Mod.Ir. samhradh, W. haf), clam (W. claf), dam
`ox' (W. dafad `sheep'), amles (W. afles), damnae (W. defnydd).
In dán díreach lenited m was classed for rhyming purposes
with bh, dh, gh, l, n, r, see Meyer, loc. cit.
2 in Lat. loan-words initial m remains: midach (<medicus);
mocol (<macula). In early loan-words medial m between
vowels is lenited: sciam (<schēma); domnach (<dominic-);
sechtmain (<septimana); but mm in damnaim (<damn-are),
arm (<arm-a), comman (<commun-ire), etc.
Occas. Irish lenited m represents Lat. medial b: promaim
(mod. fromhaim) <probare; conversely mebair (mebuir,
3 the initial combinations ml, mr which occur in Old and
early Mid.Ir. give way in the Mid.Ir. period to bl, br; mlith
(<mel- `grind'), mrath (cf. mairnid) > blith, brath. See
words given under ml, mr.
4 O.Ir. medial and final mb>mm in the Mid.Ir. period.
(vn. of com-ben-), later cumma.
imbi (imb + 3 s. m. pron.),
, etc., later
This change had already begun in O.Ir., esp. in forms of
the copula: ar mad (= armbad),
, commad (= combad),
(past subj.), and in the prep. imb folld. by another
proclitic word; see
Pedersen Vgl. Gr. i 118.
5 medial lenited m and b are occasionally interchanged by
scribes; see for exx. mebair and mimasc given below; Muir
Robur (<mare rubrum), beside Muir Romair; cumrech
(<com-rig-), beside cuibrech;
(= rot-marbais), beside robarbthar (= ro marbthar),