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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GLIGAR is an onomatopoeic word used for the rattling sound made by jackdaws and gaming pieces, but its most remarkable appearance is in the compound GLIGARGLÚN, which seems to mean 'knock-kneed' (lit. with rattling knees). As far as we know, this term was only ever attributed to one character − the tongue-twisting 'Cigal gligarglún' (Met. Dinds. i 2).

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SELLAD is a verbal noun which, like FÉGAIN, can mean both 'looking at' and 'testing'. When trying out new writing implements, scribes often wrote 'sellad pinn' (testing the pen) in the margins of medieval manuscripts. The image below shows one such 'sellad pinn' from the upper part of National Library of Ireland MS G8, p. 35. This was written by Éumann Ó Bolgaoi in the sixteenth-century. © National Library of Ireland, 2003 https://www.isos.dias.ie

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MIND originally meant 'a holy relic or venerated object'. The Annals of Tigernach list the 'minda' or relics of Colum Cille, for example, as 'Clog na righ ┐ an Chuilebaidh ┐ in da soscéla' (the Bell of the Kings, the Flabellum and the two gospels). From the practice of swearing oaths on relics, the word eventually came to mean 'an oath, a vow', and so 'to swear on the Bible' is usually 'mionn an leabhair a thabhairt' in Modern Irish (literally, to give the oath of the book).

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MAC is well-known in the meaning 'son' and in various phrases referring to followers of a particular profession or way of life − 'mac léginn' (a son of studying), for example, is a student and 'mac meda' (a son of mead) is a heavy drinker. Less well-known are phrases in which 'mac' is used of an object or entity within or at the centre of something else. Interesting early examples of this usage include 'mac greche' (son of the nut, i.e. the kernel) and 'mac imblissen' (son of the iris, i.e. the pupil of the eye).

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