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 but incorporates corrections and additions to thousands of entries.

See More ...

News & Events[See More]

Citing the Dictionary

There are two ways of citing the Dictionary. You can cite using the traditional method, for example, eDIL s.v. focal, or you can use the permanent URL displayed on the left-hand side of the page under the headword, for example, dil.ie/2345. Although the spelling of headwords may change in the light on new knowledge, these numbers will always remain the same and this link will always take you to the same entry.

In your bibliography, please cite as:

eDIL 2019: An Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language, based on the Contributions to a Dictionary of the Irish Language (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1913-1976) (www.dil.ie 2019). Accessed on [access date].

Word of the Week[See More]


SÉN is an early Irish word for an omen or portent. In medieval literature, particular significance is attached to the presence of good omens when a child is being born and there are accounts of mothers who attempt to delay birth, sometimes by sitting on a stone. It is claimed, for example, that Túathal Mael Garb, whose name means 'rough and bald', was so called from the lumps and hollows caused by the stone that his head rested against while his mother waited for a good omen before giving birth to him!

View Entry »


CORRBOLG is usually translated as 'crane-bag'. The term refers to a bag which Manannán mac Lir is said to have made from the skin of a crane or heron which had been in his company for 200 years. This bird was actually a transformed woman, named Aoife, and Manannán kept his most precious things in the bag, including the king of Scotland's shears, a helmet which belonged to a Norse king, the bones of Asal's pig and part of a whale.

View Entry »


BOLG is a long-established Irish word used to denote bubbles, blisters and swellings of various types. Bricriu mac Carbada, who features as a troublemaker in the Ulster Cycle of tales, is pictured as having a purple swelling, as big as a man's fist, which would rise up on his forehead when he tried to keep a secret. According to one account, when this happened, Bricriu used to say MEBAIS DIN BOILGG INNOCHT 'the bubble will burst tonight'!

View Entry »


CÍRMAIRE was an early Irish word for a comb-maker. There are signs that comb-makers were not held in very high regard in medieval Ireland. In the Life of St Colmán, for example, the saint proclaims that only shoe-makers and comb-makers will descend from anyone who turns against him. That said, in describing how the CÍRMAIRE acquired materials for this craft, an early legal text has an intriguing suggestion of supernatural powers. According this source, the CÍRMAIRE is to be found ‘chanting on a dunghill so that what there is below of horns and bones comes up’ (Celtica xxi 231). https://fermanaghastoryin100objects.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/the-drumclay-bird-headed-comb/

View Entry »