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 but incorporates corrections and additions to thousands of entries.

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Citing the Dictionary

There are two ways of citing the Dictionary. You can cite using the traditional method, for example, eDIL s.v. focal, or you can use the permanent URL displayed on the left-hand side of the page under the headword, for example, dil.ie/2345. Although the spelling of headwords may change in the light on new knowledge, these numbers will always remain the same and this link will always take you to the same entry.

In your bibliography, please cite as:

eDIL 2019: An Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language, based on the Contributions to a Dictionary of the Irish Language (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1913-1976) (www.dil.ie 2019). Accessed on [access date].

Word of the Week[See More]


MAIDM 'breaking' is applied in medieval Irish to a number of natural phenomena, including lake-bursts and thunder-claps, and MAIDM TALMAN 'a breaking of the earth' seems to refer to an earthquake. The Annals of the Four Masters report that such an event occurred in the Ox Mountains, Co. Sligo, in the year 1490 and that a hundred people were killed, along with many horses and cows, that putrid fish were thrown up and that a lough formed. Local tradition holds that Lough Achree is the lough in question, but this is actually a corrie lake formed by glacial activity in the last ice age.

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MESC is an early word for ‘drunk’ but it was used also to mean ‘confused’ and the verb MESCAID meant ‘confuses’. According to a text preserved in the Book of Ballymore, OGAM ROMESC BRES ‘the Ogam which Confused Bres’ was the name of a very elaborate form of Ogam. It got its name when an inscription in this writing-system was thrown at Bres son of Elatha during the Battle of Moytirra. Bres was so distracted, trying to read it, that he lost the battle!

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BRÁTHAIR, in early Irish, could refer to a brother, a sibling, but it could denote also a more distant male cousin or kinsman. Later, it was applied also to a brother in a religious community. In late medieval Irish grammar, words too were thought of as having brothers – and sisters. A BRÁTHAIR was a related masculine noun, while a SIUR ‘sister’ was a related feminine noun!

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