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Cite this: eDIL s.v. N or


Forms: nin, n, n, N, n, nn, n, n, nd, nn, nd, nn, nn, rn, rd, n, ln, ll, -nl-, -ll-, n, n, n, N, n

was the fifth letter of the Ogham alphabet, and was called by the name nin ` ash-tree '. It was the last letter of the first aicme or letter-group, of which the first two were beithe (b) and luis (l), hence the whole alphabet was often called beithe-luis-nuin; see Auraic. 976 , 1171 , 2806 , 5505 .

In Irish script n, medial or final (rarely initial) is commonly expressed by a horizontal stroke above the preceding letter.

1. Irish n is of four kinds, according as it is unlenited or lenited, non-palatal or palatal.

N is unlenited in the following cases: when an absolute initial; in the combination sn; in gemination; after r; before a dental (d, t). In these cases, (a) when followed by a non-palatal vowel, it is a dental, produced by pressing the flattened tip of the tongue against the upper teeth, (b) when followed by a palatal one, it approximates to the sound of gn in Ital. ogni, Fr. ivrogne. Unlenited n is ordinarily written nn in medial and final position.

Lenited n, (c) when non-palatal, corresponds to the ordinary European pronunciation of the letter; (d) when palatal, is a weakened form of (b). Cf. IGT Introd. § 8 , where apparently `.n. trom' = unlenited n (ceann, corn, coirndearg) and `.n. séimh' = lenited n. See Pedersen Vgl. Gr. i 152 § 95 , Thurn. Hdb. § 132.

2. In loan-words from Latin, n remains; if final in the Irish derivative it appears unlenited, e.g. mulenn < Lat. molina.

3. O.Ir. nd, medial or final, passes into nn during the Mid. Ir. period; e.g. bendacht (Lat. benedictio), cland (Lat. planta, W. plant), find `white', `hair', gránde `horrible', lend, lind `liquid', mind `diadem', proind (Lat. prandium), rind `point, star' = Mid.Ir. bennacht, clann, finn, gránna, linn, etc. This change occurred early in the case of the art.: np. inda, Thes. ii 47.24 (Philarg.), indá, Wb. 20d5 , beside inna, Thes. ii 247.16 ( Cambr. 38a ); but it is indicated in other occasional spellings in the Glosses, e.g. claínn, Wb. 5b33 ; finnae, gl. pilorum, Ml. 72b16 ; linn, Tur. 109a ; proinn, Wb. 28c20 ; pronn, 31b22 ; rinn (np.), Ml. 145d3 . The spelling nd, though no longer corresponding to the pronunciation, continues in use in Mid.Ir. beside nn, and is somet. substituted for nn in words where the latter is the orig. form; e.g. cend, crand, land, mann, rand for cenn (W. pen), crann (W. pren), lann (< Lat. lamina), mand `manna' (Lat. manna), rann (W. rhan). Occas. final rn appears as rd (prob. a mistake for rnd due to omission of the compendium for n), e.g. ocht ṅdúird, LB 63a28 ( IT i 40.22 ) = nduirn (dorn); cartt, ZCP ii 314 x (=carn).

4. Medial ln is assimilated to ll, a change which begins in the O.Ir. period; e.g. élned `pollution' (as-len-), Wb. 11b9 = eilled, Ml. 22b1 ; dun elled, 92d12 ; part. éilnithe, Wb. 31b29 = eillidi (gs.), Ml. 63a16 ; do fuillned (fo-lín-), Ml. 26c6 = do fuilled, 69b6 ; nud-comálnabadar who shall fulfil it, Ml. 46c20 , beside -comallammar, ib., -comallas(atar), 105a6 (< comlán). Similarly -nl- becomes -ll-: brollach (< bron-lach, cf. bruinne and 1 brú, gs. bronn), fiallach (< fian-lach), tellach `hearth' (cf. 1 teine `fire').

Coming between two other consonants n often falls out, e.g. áildiu (< *áilndiu), superl. of álaind `beautiful'; ní cumgat, 3 pl. pres. of con-icc (3 s. ní cumaing); aisdís, forgaire, frecdairc, scríbdid, variant spellings of aisndís, forngaire, frecndairc, scríbndid. See ZCP v 1.

5. Initial n is occas. prosthetic, due either to orig. eclipsis of an initial vowel, e.g. Dún n-Áis (= Dún Náis, mod. Naas?), Loch Nén, (prob. = Loch nÉn), or to influence of the art.; for prob. exx. see Nairmein, 1 nairne, nangtha, napa, ? 1 nena, noll ; the word nuimir (Lat. numerus, O.Ir. umir) is prob. a learned re-formation. Conversely, an initial n may be dropped through being assigned to the art.; cf. es `weasel', 3 úall `cry, wail', úna `famine', with 1 nes(s), 1 núall, núna.

6. N marks nasalization of initial vowels and initial d, g, see Pedersen Vgl. Gr. § 261 fg ., Thurn. Hdb. § 237 , and IGT Introd. § 8.

7. In Mid.Ir. n is oft. used in the formation of adjs. in -ach, -aide, abstract nouns and denom. vbs. on the analogy of forms in -ach, etc. derived from n-stems; such derivations are found beside forms without n; e.g. bendachtnach, bennachtnach(bendacht, gs. -an); bertnaigid `shakes, brandishes', beside bertaigid; créchtnaigid `wounds' (crécht); machtnaigid `wonders', beside machtaigid; mainnechtnach, -naige, beside mainnechtach; mairgnech `lamentation' (mairg); malartnach, -naigid, beside malartach, -aigid; neimnech `venomous', neimnige`virulence' (neim); nemnaige `sanctity' (nem).


Cite this: eDIL s.v. nall or


adj. see noll .

? nangtha

Cite this: eDIL s.v. ? nangtha or


Forms: angtha

adj difficult, rough: nangt[h]a .i. andsa nó diardain, O'Mulc. 832. Perh. = angtha with prosthetic n (cf. noll ).

noll , nall

Cite this: eDIL s.v. noll , nall or
Last Revised: 2019


Forms: nuill

adj. great; noble? nall .i. mór no adbal ut est [nall] amái, O'Mulc. 838. nald .i. mór no adbul; nall amae .i. is mór in ní, H 3.18 p. 73 ( O'Curry 116 ). nall (.i. uasal) suide saides Condla, LU 10026 (Echtra Condla; other versions read nall, náll, nalt, nald; Pokorny, ZCP xvii 198 , conjectures: n[ō]all-suide = nuall-s. `ein kläglicher Sitz'). noll amra[e] do mac 'a great and wonderful boy', Ev.Inf. (GTh) 481 § 45 . noll a maic, ní maith a congairiu-siu `verily, my son', Fianaig. 26.13 (nall, nolt v.l.; an leg. noll amai?). v s. a naill Chuirc 'o mighty Corc' PMLA lvi 940 . As subst.? Prosper . . . noll redlainne rigdai, Fél.² July 29 , LB (with gl.: oll no móra na redlanda) = noll retlannach rigda, Laud. g s m. féil Beóáin maicc Nessáin nuill `of great Nessan', Fél. Aug. 8 ( noll , nold v.l.). Acc. to Stokes, ACL i 316 = oll `great' with prosthetic n.