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Monday, March 5, 2018

Irish/English Glossary of Common Terms

This post is meant to offer a selection of the common terms I use in Irish with their English translations, to help readers of my blog who may not have any Irish or who may find the use of Irish placenames, euphemisms for the Good Neighbours, and other miscellaneous words confusing. Hopefully this will offer a bit of clarity.

Aitainmneacha / Place Names

An Cheathru Chaol - Carrowkeel
Brú na Bóinne - Brugh na Boyne
Cnóbha - Knowth

Cnoc - hill
Connachta - Connacht
Cúigí na hÉireann - Provinces of Ireland
Dumha na nGiall - Mound of the Hostages
Laighin - Leinster
Lios - Ring fort, fairy mound
Mide - Meath
Mumhain - Munster
Ráth - Fort, ring fort
Sidhe - fairy mound
Sid in Broga - Newgrange
Sliabh na Caillighe - Loughcrew, literally 'mountain of the Cailleach'
Teamhair - Tara
Uaimh na gCat - Cave of Cats
Ulaidh - Ulster

Sofhroital na Sióga/ Euphemisms for Fairies

Aos Sidhe - People of the fairy hills
Bean Sidhe - fairy woman
Daoine Eile - Other People/ Other Crowd
Daoine Maithe - Good People
Daoine Sidhe - People of the fairy hills
Daoine Uaisle - Noble People
Fear sidhe - fairy man
Leannan Sidhe - fairy lover
na hUaisle - the Gentry
Tuathghinte - literally 'northwards people'

Go hilghneitheach/ Miscellaneous

Badb - name of a goddess also a term for a supernatural woman, witch, and crow
Bainne - milk
Banríon - Queen

Bantuaithech - old Irish term for a specific type of 'leftward' working witch
Bean feasa - wise woman
Cailleach - name of a goddess, also means crone, hag, witch

Caite - elf-struck
Conriocht - werewolf
Déithe - Gods

Draíodóir - wizard, enchanter
Draoi - magic user, druid
Gaeilge - Irish language
Iarlais - changeling
Im - butter
Piseog - charm, spell, also supersition
Rí - King
Sidhe gaoithe - fairy wind
Slua sidhe - Fairy host
Taibhse - ghost, spectre, phantom
Tromluí - incubus, nightmare

Pronunciations for all of these can be found below, thanks to Lora O'Brien who was kind enough to collaborate with me on this, after the idea of glossary was suggested on facebook


  1. Replies
    1. I've subscribed to your channel. I thought it was only fair. I may not get any work done for several weeks as a result, but it's worth it.

  2. If I'm not mistaken, the modern Irish spelling for "sidhe" is "sí", or at least that's how the Foclóir Póca has it.

    @Lora: The use of "faoladh" for "werewolf" seems almost certainly to be entirely my fault, as I used it that way a while back and a lot of people seem to have taken it and spread it around, or at least the word was nowhere on the internet before I used it in that sense. I took it from a phrase in "Togail Bruidne Dá Derga", which was "co fáelad" (modern "go faoladh", obviously), and which has been translated as "werewolfing". I think that the term for an individual werewolf should be "cennfáelad" (modern "ceannfhaoladh"; also Anglicized as the surname Kineely and its variations). I did the best I could with my level of knowledge back then, but "conriocht" ("hound/canine-shape") or ceannfhaoladh (something like "wolfish-head", right?) would be my own preference today. Of course, I still keep the username because it's a pain to change.

    1. yes conriocht - wolf shape - is the modern for werewolf although one would usually see it in phrases in the same sense as go faoladh, so 'i gconriocht'. But it does have a secondary meaning of simply werewolf according to O Donaill's Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla

  3. Oh, and also, "rígan" (modern "ríon") is also "queen", so that banríon is literally "female queen", to make sure that you know she's definitely a queen and not a rí I guess. You can see the word in the name of a rather famous goddess, Morrígan (or Mórrígan).

    1. Um. Thanks for 'splainin that tidbit?! *baffled*

    2. Oh, hardly 'splaining anything! I know your Irish is far better than mine. I was clarifying, since due to a slip of the tongue in your video you accidentally implied that "ríon" might mean "king" in English. I apologize for the confusion, I should have made my intention more clear.

  4. I think Lora and I are both clear on that point, although it is an interesting linguistic bit that in Irish you simply tack 'ban' onto a word to feminize it, hence bandraoi, bansagart, banlaoch....