Search Help

Download User Guide (2.7Mb) Basic Search
  • Accented Characters
  • Wild Card Searches
  • Viewing by Letter and Column
Viewing Search Results
  • Switching to Browse mode in the Search Results Window
  • Text Colours and their Meaning
  • Cross-references
  • Source Abbreviations
  • Navigation
Advanced Search
  • Searching by language
    • Part of Speech
    • Stem
    • Gender
    • Combining Case, Number, Mood, etc.
  • Advanced Search Options
The Print Dictionary
The Supplement
Using the Bibliography

Basic Search

Select 'Basic Search' from the 'Search' tab or go to the Home Page. Type the text you wish to search for in the text box and press 'Search'. To restrict your search to headwords, check the 'Headword Only' check box.

Accented Characters

Searches are insensitive to accents so a search on 'mar' will return examples of 'mar', 'már' and 'mār'.

Wild Card Searches

If you want to find all inflected forms of a particular word with a stable root, then you can add an asterisk to the root. E.g searching on 'bliad*' will return 'bliadain', 'bliadna', 'bliadnae', 'bliadan' etc.

If the middle of a word is unknown or varies considerably, you can replace the uncertain characters with an asterisk. E.g. a search on 'bru*n' should return all the variant forms of 'bruiden' such as 'bruidin', 'bruidhen', 'bruighean', etc. As wild card searches can produce high numbers of irrelevant results, it may be preferable to check the 'Headword Only' box.

You can use wild card searches in English as well. For example, a search on 'whistl*' will return examples of 'whistle', 'whistled', 'whistling' etc.

Viewing Search Results

Your search results will appear in a list form. If you have searched for a particular word or part of a word, this will be highlighted. A limited number of entries is displayed initially. To see more results, click on 'Load More' at the bottom of the page.

The column on the left shows the headword for the entry where the searched item was found. Beneath this are any forms that were declined/conjugated in the original Dictionary or which have been marked out by the editors of the electronic edition.

Text Colours and their Meaning

The default colour for text in eDIL is black but certain types of data are coloured to facilitate ready identification. Abbreviations for sources and accompanying page references are shown in bold blue (see sample below for ainmm). Definitions are shown in bold green, and translations of citations are shown in italic green. Internal cross-references are shown in bold purple. Grammatical person, number and case are shown in orange.

The ¤ symbol indicates that the headword has been abbreviated. For example, in the illustration above, it indicates that 'a.' is to be expanded 'ainmm' as in the headword. In cases where the headword has variant spellings, the reader must decide which one is intended (this was the case in the original Dictionary, hence we were unable to expand these automatically).


Internal cross-references are shown in purple and emboldened. Click on the cross-reference to go to the relevant entry. In cases where the original Dictionary has misspelled a headword (not surprising given the amount of time over which the Dictionary was compiled) you may not get a result. In that case, just use Browse or Basic Search modes to find the correct entry.

Source Abbreviations

Primary sources are usually indicated by abbreviations or short titles. These appear in eDIL in blue (bold). Click on the abbreviation to open the bibliography at the relevant entry in a separate window.


To browse the Dictionary by headword, select 'Browse' from the Search tab. As you type a word in the Browse box, a list of matching words will begin to appear below. You can navigate through these to find the word that you want, then click on it to go to the appropriate point in the Dictionary.

Alternatively, select one of the letters of the alphabet to browse that entire section of the Dictionary.


You can navigate through entries in Browse mode using the Previous Column and Next Column buttons at the top and bottom of the column.

Advanced Search

Select 'Advanced Search' from the Search tab to access advanced search options. Note that you do not need to use the Advanced Search options and the fewer you use the quicker your search will be. You need only use Advanced Search when the number of results provided by a Basic Search is larger than you want.

Searching by Language

Select the 'Language' tab, then select the language you wish to search. Most commonly, you will want to select 'Medieval Irish' or 'English'. This is most helpful when doing a wild card search (with an asterisk) if your initial results are too extensive.

When the language is set to 'Medieval Irish', it will search all headwords and citations written in Old, Middle and Early Modern Irish. Parts of citations written in other languages, such as Latin, will be excluded.

Where the language is set to 'English', it will search all definitions and translations of citations. Commentary of a general nature and instructions in the text of the Dictionary will not be searched.

There is a considerable body of Latin in the Dictionary which can be searched by selecting 'Latin' from the drop down list. This will search any word in Latin in citations, etymologies, etc.

Other languages may not occur commonly in the Dictionary and it is possible to search for all the words in the Dictionary in such a language. Simply clear the search box and select the language of your choice and press Go!

Grammatical Search

To perform searches on grammatical characteristics, click on the Grammatical tab. You will see a range of searchable categories. Grammatical searches are most powerful when performed in combination with each other and/or a text search.

Part of Speech

You may restrict your search to certain categories of words by selecting the appropriate part of speech. The search will return the corresponding search text only for those entries which belong to the part of speech that you have selected.


You can search for words belonging to particular stems by selecting from this list. Note that a search on, for example, io-stems may produce results containing io-iā stems: you will find that these items are attested as substantives as well as adjectives.


Note that nouns may have more than one gender so that the same headword may be returned for different searches.

Combining Case, Number, Mood, etc.

Note that eDIL will find any case, mood, tense, person, and number markers within a whole entry and that they may not be related to a single form or groups of forms. For example, if you search for the fut. 2 sg., eDIL will return all entries for which any of these elements are recorded, including where the 2 sg. is attested for the present tense but not the future. It is not currently possible to restrict the search to only the required elements and you will have to further refine the search by visual inspection.

If you perform a text search in combination with any of the grammatical options, eDIL searches only the headword. This enables you, for example, to find any verbs ending in '-l'.

Search in...

You can search text in specific fields by clicking on the 'Search in...' tab. The searchable fields are: headword, citation, inflected forms, definition and translation. Click on the field that you wish to restrict your search to.

It can be useful to restrict your sense to definitions, thereby excluding translations of citations and other general commentary. Select 'Definition', type in the word you wish to find, and click Go! This is ideal for finding words for particular concepts or items, e.g. sword, rain, lord, true, good, etc.

Clicking on 'Citation' will restrict your search to citations only and so will exclude, for example, headwords. 'Inflected forms' refers to conjugated/declined forms given separately in some entries. If you have a form that you do not recognise you might try using a wildcard search in combination with 'Inflected forms' to view a more limited range of possibilities than a full search.

The Print Edition

The searchable Dictionary represents the most up-to-date version. The digitised version of the RIA's original print Dictionary can be accessed by clicking on 'Print Edition' on the 'DIL' tab.

The Supplement

To view the additions and corrections made to the 2013 edition, select 'Supplement' from the DIL tab. Corrections in the Supplement are to the original print Dictionary and use the column and line numbers from there as insertion/deletion points. These additions and corrections have been incorporated into the most recent online edition.

To find out what has happened to a particular word, select the appropriate letter/fascicle from the table on the Supplement page. This will download a PDF corresponding to that letter/fascicle.

Each new entry begins with the original DIL headword in bold, together with the original column and line number (in brackets) as in the print dictionary. Instructions (e.g. 'delete', 'insert after') appear in bold grey. If the insertion point is not at the beginning of a line, the exact location within the line is given in light grey. Text to be inserted, together with references to primary and secondary sources, follow.

New entries are inserted after the last line of the previous entry and the headword is marked 'new'.

Where text is to be deleted, the letter, column and line number referring to the start of the text to be deleted are given in brackets, followed by the 'delete' instruction, followed by the text to be deleted. If a reference is given after the text that it is to be deleted, it denotes a source in which the lexeme has been discussed.


The bibliography contains all abbreviated sources cited in the Dictionary. From within the Search results page or Browse pages, you can link directly to the bibliography by clicking on the abbreviation. To access the full bibliography, click on the Bibliography tab at the top of the page.

Select the first letter of the source you are looking for and scroll down through the list of abbreviations. Click on the desired abbreviation to display its full bibliographical details.

If you know only part of an abbreviation (other than the first few letters), try using your web browser's search function (press Ctrl + F) to search the entire contents of the page.