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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SÉN is an omen or portent. To judge by the abundance of attestions in a wide range of texts, concerns about good and bad omens affected almost all areas of Irish life from earliest times. Literary references attach particular importance to the presence of good omens when a child is being born and there are accounts of mothers' attempts to delay birth, sometimes by sitting on a stone. It is claimed, for example, that Túathal Mael Garb or 'rough head' was so called from the lumps and hollows (luicc ┐cnuicc) caused by the stone that his head rested against while his mother waited for a good omen before giving birth to him!

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GABUL was used in early Irish for any structure which divided into two or more prongs or projecting parts − like a fork, the thighs of the body or a gibbet. It combined with RIND 'point' to give us GABULRIND 'a pair of compasses'. Compasses were clearly used in early Ireland to draw accurate circles in manuscripts. The effect can be seen in the the halo surrounding the head of an eagle in the 8th-century Book of Dimma (TCD MS 59) from Roscrea, Co. Tipperary. Image © The Board of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin. 2015.

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SÍNED LÁIME, literally 'stretching of or by hand', is used in Early Modern Irish medical texts to mean 'surgery'. The phrase seems to be based on the same idea as Ancient Greek χειρουργία, roughly 'hand-work' (from which Latin 'chirurgia' and ultimately English 'surgery' derive) − that is to say, the idea that surgery was treatment by physical manipulation of the body as opposed to treatment by herbal drinks and salves.

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ORÁIT means 'a prayer' and seems to have been used specifically of a ritual prayer rather than an extempore one. An interesting instance of the word can be found in the manuscript known as Lebor na hUidre. In 1359 this manuscript was paid as ransom for members of the Ó Dónaill family who had been taken prisoner by Cathal Óg Ó Conchobhair. A note on p. 37 commemorates its return to Donegal in 1470. It says: orait and so d'Aodh Ruadh... do tobach co foregnech an leabair so ar Chonnachtaib 'a prayer for Áed Rúad for rescuing this book by force from the Connachtmen' (RIA MS 23 E 25)

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