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]


SLIGE is the medieval Irish word that gave us Modern Irish SLÍ ‘a road’. The original sense of SLIGE, however, was ‘cutting down’ or ‘clearing’, and the early term was often used with reference to slaughtering people. From uses associated with felling trees and clearing land, the term came to be applied to ‘something that is cleared or cut-out’ and hence to ‘a road, a path’!

View Entry »


ADAIG was the usual word for ‘night’ in early Irish. The standard Modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic terms (OÍCHE and OIDHCHE respectively) actually arise from older AIDCHE, which could stand alone to mean specifically ‘in the night’. In Medieval Europe sunset was regard as the time when one day ended and another began. Thus, although LÚAN meant 'Monday' in the early language, ADAIG LÚAIN often corresponded to what we would now refer to as ‘Sunday night’!

View Entry »


Ó is rather unusual in that it is a single-letter noun. Although entirely replaced by CLUAS in Modern Irish, Ó seems to have been a normal word for ‘ear’ in early Irish, when CLÚAS meant 'ear' and also ‘hearing’. The compound ÓDHERG ‘red-eared’ occurs frequently in medieval Irish literature, particularly with reference to white cows with red ears which were associated with the Otherworld. Today, it is generally accepted that these were inspired by real-life breeds, probably the ancestors of British White Cattle.

View Entry »


LÁ ‘day’ often appears at or near the beginning of an early Irish story in phrases which are roughly equivalent to English ‘once upon a time’. Early versions include RO-BOÍ LÁ ‘there was a day…’ and LÁ N-ANN, literally ‘a day in it’, but later LÁ N-ÓEN ‘one day’ became more common. In the well-known ‘Voyage of Bran son of Febal’, for example, the narrative proper begins ‘is ed tossach in sceóil. Imluid Bran laa n-and a óinur i comocus dia dún, cocúala a ceól far íarna chúl…’ (this is the start of the story. Once, Bran went about alone near his fort and he heard music behind him…). The music, of course, lulls Bran to sleep – and so begins a series of interactions with the Otherworld.

View Entry »


News & Events[See More]