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.

See More ...

Word of the Week[See More]


BOLG has many meanings. It can be a bag, a belly, a bubble, a blister or a berry. Actually, there are probably at least two separate words, but sometimes it is difficult to know which or what is intended. In an Old Irish text, the phrase CENN I MBOLG is used to sum up the condition of man after Creation when it was not known what the world looked like or who made it. Given that the phrase obviously refers to a state of ignorance, it seems to mean roughly ‘head in a bag’!

View Entry »


NASC ‘a fastening, a ring’ may have inspired Tolkien to use NAZG as the Black Speech word for ‘ring’ in The Lord of the Rings. Although the author once wrote that he had ‘no liking at all for Gaelic from Old Irish downwards’, he had studied the language and he himself admitted that Irish NASC may have become ‘lodged in some corner of my linguistic memory’ to be revived when he was constructing the language of Mordor. Interestingly, NASC is related to the Old Irish verb NAISCID ‘binds’.

View Entry »


CÉILE ‘servant’ is best-known from the phrase CÉILE DÉ ‘servant of God’, a type of religious personage sometimes referred to in English as a ‘Culdee’. The same word, in the sense ‘companion’, lies behind medieval CÉILIDE ‘visiting’ and the Modern Irish word CÉILÍ (Scottish Gaelic CÈILIDH), which is used to denote a social gathering, often in winter. Traditionally, stories and poems were recited at such an event, but recently the term has been more closely associated with traditional music and dancing.

View Entry »


GIÚS is a fir-tree or pine. Along with holly, oak and yew, this tree was considered one of the AIRIG FEDA ‘nobles of the wood’, as opposed to the ATHAIG FEDA ‘commoners of the wood’ such as beech and willow. Merry Christmas/Nollaig Shona/Nollaig Chridheil to all our followers!

View Entry »


News & Events[See More]