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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CÚ 'dog, hound' is often found as a personal name; well-known examples include Cú Chulainn and Cú Roí. An unidentified individual, called simply Cú, turns up in the saying 'doringnis Cú ┐ Cethen dím' (You have made me into Cú and Cethen). According to the explanation found in the Book of Leinster, this Cú killed Cethen, a server in the house of Cormac mac Airt, and was himself killed immediately. It may be, then, that the saying means roughly 'you have placed me in a situation where there is no good outcome'.

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CLÍATH is a hurdle, a framework of branches woven together and used to make fences, gates, walls, doors, and so on. A particular sense pertains to the phrase CLÍATHA FIS 'hurdles of knowledge'. A number of (notably late) sources suggest that CLÍATHA FIS were beds on which druids would lie in order to access supernatural knowledge. One text imagines the process as follows: luidhset na druidh fora cliathaib fis ┐ rothoghairmset demhna ┐dei aerdha na n-docum 'the druids went on their "hurdles of knowledge", and summoned to them demons and aerial gods' (Marco P. 32).

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CEPP is a tree-stump and also a cut log or block. In the latter sense, it refers to the block on which an anvil sits. In the medieval period, a wooden log was often buried several feet into the ground to provide a sturdy base so that the anvil would not move when struck with a hammer. This provided medieval Irish poets with a metaphor for a stable place in which to live one's life. In an Old-Irish verse put into the mouth of Saint Ailbe, of Emly in Munster, resolving to remain in a monastery until death is likened to 'striking your anvil into a block' (t'indéin do béimim i cepp; Ériu iii 108).

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LÁR is often seen in Ireland today on signposts and buses, where the phrase AN LÁR indicates the town or city centre. The word, however, originally meant 'floor'. As medieval houses were usually round, crossing the floor meant going through the middle of the house, and this seems to explain why LÁR came to mean 'centre'. The latter is certainly the meaning when Jerusalem is described as 'lár na cruinne' (the centre of the world) and Carrickfergus deemed the centre of Uí Néill territory (lár a fhlaithemhnais)

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