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.

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FÍANAMAIL is an adjective meaning 'fían-like', that is, like the warrior-bands often associated with Finn mac Cumaill. For some reason, this word was chosen by medieval Irish linguists to demonstrate polysyllabic words and so they created 'fíanamailcharad', 'fíanamailcharadard' and what is claimed as the longest word in Irish − octosyllabic 'fíanamailcharadardae'!

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LETH can mean 'half' or 'one of two', when referring to things which are thought of as existing in pairs. The uses are poignantly illustrated in a 13th-century love poem which Muireadhach Albanach Ó Dálaigh composed on the death of his wife: leath mo shúl í, leath mo lámh ... dob é ceirtleath m'anma í 'she was one of my eyes, one of my hands ... she was the very half of my soul' (Irish Bardic Poetry, 101-3)

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PÉCÓG 'peacock' is an English loanword (earlier Irish had GÉSECHTACH, seemingly 'one who screeches'). The earliest example we have come across of PÉCÓG is in a text on child-rearing, where it recommended that breast of peacock is given to an infant as part of the weaning process: tabuir feoil ochta én do, mar atait pecoga ┐pertrisi 'give it the breast-meat of birds like peacocks and partridges' (Irish Texts v 48.1)

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FÉITHLE was the name of an entwining plant like woodbine or ivy. Particularly in Classical Irish poetry, the term was used figuratively in references both to the act of uniting different peoples and to the person who brought them together. Thus, 16th-century poet Tadhg Dall Ó hUiginn referred to Cú Chonnacht Óg Mag Uidhir (Maguire) of Fermanagh as 'rí is féithle ag finnfearaibh Fáil' (a leader who was a binding plant around the fine men of Ireland' (TD 9.52)

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