Bain sult as iad seo! / Enjoy
these!
Ár nGníomhaíochtaí: / Our
Activities:
GAEILGE i
SACSBHÉARLA
IRISH WORDS IN ENGLISH
setstats
CUMANN CARAD NA GAEILGE
The Philo-Celtic Society

A.  THE VOWELS

B. VOWEL SURPRISES
(THE "DIPHTHONGS")

C. OTHER VOWEL
COMBINATIONS

D. THE CONSONANTS

E. THE LAST FEW RULES -
MOPPING UP

F. PRACTICE - IRISH
WORDS IN ENGLISH
 
FOCAIL NA GAEILGE I SACSBHÉARLA
Irish Words in English

Practice

Now that you know the rules, try them out on these Irish words which are also used in English.  There's over
100 of them below which you probably already know:  (Note that the files on this page are audio files only.  
Your computer is not broken.)

ailp ('lump'), which gives us 'alp' and 'Alps'.  (The Celts apparently weren't as impressed with the
Alps as the Romans.  We thought of them as mere 'lumps' while the Romans thought they were a
big deal.)  Notice the 3 pronunciations of ai as covered on the Vowel Surprises ("diphthongs") page.


amadán ('fool'), which gives us 'omadan'.  Notice the 2 ways to say a broad d as covered on the
Consonants page.  Also, note that the fada in the last syllable evens out the stress on the three
syllables.


barr ('top'), which gives us (through Gaulish) the words 'bar', 'barrier', 'embarrass', 'barrage', etc.


bata ('stick'), which gives us (through Gaulish) the word 'baton' and 'bat'.  Note that with all the
stress on the first syllable, the last a in bata has been reduced to an Indo-European schwa.


bean sí ('woman of sí'), which gives us 'banshee'.  The sí are the supernatural people who were
the old gods of Ireland.


bile ('block of wood'), which gives us (through Gaulish) 'billiards', billet, and 'billy-club'.  Note that
with all the stress on the first syllable, the e in the second syllable has been reduced to an
Indo-European schwa.


bladar ('babbling'), which gives us 'blather'.  Note the 2 ways to say a broad d and that the a in
the second syllable has been reduced to an Indo-European schwa with all the stress on the first
syllable.


boc ('male cloven-hoofed animal'), which gives us 'buck'


bog ('soft'), which gives us 'bog' (a soft place)


bolg ('bag', 'stomach', 'bulge'), which gives us (through Gaulish) the word 'bulge'.  Note that, as
always, you can say this with or without the Indo-European schwa in between the two consonants
(l and g in this case).  Your choice.


breá ('fine'), which gives us 'it's a braw day'.  Note that (as always) you can say this with or without
the y-glide which has the effect of splitting the eá combination as covered in note 3 on the Mopping
Up page.


breac ('mixed' or 'speckled'), which gives us 'brackish' as in "brackish (mixed) water".  


briosc ('brittle' or 'crisp'), as in the TV commercial "That's brisk, baby!"


brístí ('trousers'), which gives us 'britches'.  Note the even stress across the two syllables because
of the fada in the second syllable.


bróg ('shoe'), which gives us 'brogues' (heavy, dress shoes)


buachaill ('boy', originally 'cow-herd'), which gives us 'buckaroo'.  Note how the ai in the second
syllable is reduced to a schwa because all the stress stays in the first syllable.


bun ('bottom'), which gives us 'sit on your buns'


caidhp bháis ('cape of death'), which gives us "Let's put the kibosh on that."  Note the 3 variations
based on the 3 different pronunciations of ai.


carbad ('chariot').  This gives us (through Gaulish) the French & English words 'car', 'char', 'chariot'.  
As always, you can say this with or without the Indo-European schwa in between the two consonants
(r and b in this case).


carn ('pile of stones'), which gives us 'cairn'.  As always, you can say this with or without the
Indo-European schwa in between the two consonants (r and n in this case).


carraig ('rock').  Note the stress on the first syllable which reduces the ai in the second syllable to
a schwa.  This word is the root for the Irish word creag which gives us 'crag' in English.


carraigín ('little rock').  This is 'carrageen' moss, used as an emulsifier in ice cream.  (What the
heck is an emulsifier, anyway?)


cat ('cat').  This ancient Celtic word apparently entered Latin from Gaulish as 'cattus', which gives
us 'chat' in French and 'cat' in English.  You can disregard speculation about a "possible Hamitic
origin" by certain dictionary writers.  If you ask me, it's pretty dumb to go off looking for an
etymology in Africa or Asia when Irish and therefore the direct Gaullish ancestor of Old French
apparently provide  the root.  


('dock'), as in a 'quay' or 'cay' or 'key'


ceann dall ('blind head', the surname Kendall).  Note the variations based on whether you want
to put a y-glide after the slender c in ceann.


ceilp ('kelp', a kind of seaweed).   Note the variations based on how you can pronounce ei and
whether you want to stick a schwa in between the l and the p.


clann ('children'), which gives us 'clan' as in Clan Kelly ('Children of Ceallach')


cochaill ('cowl').  "Cowl" is the ancient English attempt to pronounce this ancient Irish and Celtic
word.  The Celts were noted for wearing cowls throughout Europe as part of their daily dress.  
Note the stress on the first syllable which reduces the ai in the second syllable to a schwa.    


Colm ('dove').  This name is of early Christian origin. Although theoretically we can pronounce
this without the schwa in between the l and the m, I've never actually heard it that way.


creag ('crag'), which gives us the English words 'crag' and 'craggy'


cros ('cross', from Latin crux).  Irish missionaries spread their version of the word crux across
Europe. As always, we can say it with or without the schwa in between the two consonants,
c and r in this case.


crosta ('cross', 'angry', 'crotchedy') from Irish cros (see above).  As always, we can say it with or
without the schwa in between two consonants (the c and r and the s and t in this case).  And with
all the stress on the first syllable, the a in the second syllable is reduced to a schwa.


ding ('wedge'), which gives us "I put a ding in my surfboard."  Note your two choices in how to
pronounce the slender d.  


dram ('drop').  As you can tell by now, there are potentially 4 ways to say this based on the two
ways we say the broad d and whether we put the schwa in between the d and the r.  I've recorded
2 of them for you.  Figure out the other 2.  The word dram also gives us the phrase dram buí
('yellow drop') which gives us the name of a popular liqueur which is atrociously misspelled and
mispronounced as 'Drambuie'.


drong which gives us 'throng'.  Note the 2 ways to say the broad d.  As always, if you want, you
can also throw a shwa in between the d and the r.


duileasc ('dulse', a kind of seaweed).  Note the 2 ways to say the broad d.  And with all the stress
on the first syllable, the ea in the second syllable is reduced to a schwa.


Fionn ('shining' / 'fair' / 'blond').  Note the two ways to say io as covered in Note 2 on the Other
Vowel Combinations page.


Faolán ('Little Wolf', the surname Phelan and Whelan)


gad ('gad' or 'prod'), as in 'gad-fly'


geab ('gab'), as in "the gift of gab".  Although it's theoretically possible to put a y-glide after the
slender g, I haven't heard it that way.


gibris ('gibberish').  Note the variation when you put the schwa in between the two consonants
(b and r in this case).


glám ('grasp' or 'grab'), which gives us "to glom on to it"


Go dté tú slán ('May you go safely'), which shortens to Slán! and gives us "So long!"


gob ('mouth'), which gives us "Shut your gob!"


gom ('ignorant fool'), which gives us "Don't be a gom!"


gleann ('valley') which gives us 'glen'.  Note the variation if you choose to use the y-glide after the
slender gl.


is maith sin (literally 'good is that'), which gives us "Smashing!"  Note the variations based on the
3 ways to say ai.


leadradh ('to beat' / 'to lather').  You have the choice of whether or not to put a y-glide after the
slender l, and the choice of how to pronounce the broad d, and the choice of whether to put the
schwa between the two consonants d and r.  So that's 6 ways to say this word, but I've recorded
two for a start.


loch ('lake').  Make sure your o comes out as a short o and not as a short a.


long-phort ('ship-port', as in County Longford).  Remember that you have 2 ways you can
pronounce a broad t.  Your choice.


Mac Beatha ('Son of Life', as in Mac Beth).  This Scottish nationalist was vilified by a well-known
English plagiarist in the play of the same name.  It's your choice whether or not to insert a y-glide
after the slender B and thereby split the diphthong ea.


Máirín ('Little Máire' / Little Mary').  Note how the fada in the second syllable evens out the stress
across the two syllables.


naigín ('container' or 'noggin'), as in a "noggin of milk" or "hit your noggin".   Note the 3 ways to
say ai (your choice) and that the fada in the second syllable evens out the stress.


peata ('pet') which comes into English from Early Irish as 'pet'.  It's your choice as to whether or
not to stick in the y-glide after the slender p and how to pronounce the broad t.


plaid ('plaid').  It's your choice on how to pronounce the slender d and the 3 ways you can
pronounce ai.  And if you want to throw a schwa between the p and the l, it's your Gaelic right.


poitín ('little pot', unlicensed liquor made in a poitín or still).  Note the variations based on your
choice of how to say a slender t, and that the fada in the second syllable evens out the stress.


poc ('male goat'), as in Puck Fair and Puck in Midsummer's Night Dream, "borrowed" from Welsh
folklore by the same famous English plagiarist.


púca (the supernatural animal called a 'pooka').  With all the stress on the first syllable, the a in
the second syllable is reduced to the schwa.


pus ('snout' / 'grimace' / 'puss'), as in "Wipe that puss off your face."


ráth ('earthern fortress'), as in Basil Rathbone (, i.e., bone found in a rath)


Rónán ('little seal')


sáile ('sea water'), cognate with Latin sál which helps give us 'salt' and 'saline'.  Note the two
variations based on whether you want to put a y-glide after the slender l.


salach ('dirty'), which gives us sale in French and 'sully' in English.


scealp ('slice' / 'layer' / 'splinter' / 'piece'), which gives us 'scalp'.  Here it's your call whether to
put a y-glide after the slender sc and whether to put a schwa in between the l and the p.


scot ('trespasser').  I guess somebody thought the Irish who went into Alba were trespassers.  
Anyway, make sure the o comes out like a short o and not like a short a.


seamróg ('shamrock').  Here it's your call whether to put a y-glide after the slender s and whether
to put a schwa in between the m and the r.  And, of course, we wound up with even stress between
the two syllables because of the fada in the second syllable.


séamus ('shamus').  How the name Séamus ('James') came to mean a private detective is a
mystery to me.  Without a fada in the second syllable, all the stress remains on the first syllable,
so the u in the second syllable is reduced to a schwa.


sean tigh (literally 'old house'), which gives us the word 'shanty'.  You can ignore speculation in
some dictionaries that this may come from the Québec French word 'chantier', meaning
'lumberyard.'  Dictionary writers who assume they can write decent etymology without knowing
something about the Celtic languages have also ridiculously assumed that our northern neighbors
are incapable of telling the difference between a lumberyard and a house.  Note that igh sounds
like í as we learned in Note 4 of our Mopping Up page.  Also, theoretically, we should be able to
pronounce the tigh like 'chee', but I haven't heard it that way myself.  


(The supernatural people called 'shee' were the old gods of Ireland.)  


síbín ('shebeen' or 'saloon').  Notice how the fada in the second syllable has evened out the
stress.


slaba ('a slob' or 'sloppy person' / 'mud' / 'ooze').  Without a fada in the second syllable, the
stress remains on the first syllable, reducing the a in the second syllable to a schwa.


slapa ('slop' / 'mud' / 'ooze').  Ditto. (i.e, see directly above)


sláinte ('health').  It's your choice on how to say the slender t and whether or not to stick a
schwa in between the two consonants (s and l in this case).


slat ('rod' or 'slat'), as in slats in a fence


slog ('a swallow' or 'slug'), as in "a slug a' whiskey"


slua ('host' or 'slew'), as in "a slew a' people"


slua-ghairm (literally 'host-cry', the battle-cry of a warrior host), which gives us 'slogan'.  Note
the variations based on your choices of how to say ai.


smeadar ('smatter'), as in 'to smatter someone with paint'.  Note the variations based on your
choices for the broad d and whether you want to insert a y-glide after the slender sm.


smear ('smear'), as in 'to smear someone with paint'.  Note your choices based on whether you
want to insert a y-glide after the slender sm.


smid ('particle' or 'syllable' or 'smidge'), as in "I want a smidge of that."  Note your choices based
on how you can decide to pronounce the slender d and whether you want to insert a y-glide after
the slender sm.


smidín ('little particle' or 'smidgen'), as in "I want a smidgen of that."  Here you hear your choices
based on how you decide to pronounce the slender d.  You can also decide whether you want to
insert a y-glide after the slender sm.  Notice that the stress has evened out between the syllables
because of the fada in the second syllable.


smidirín ('little particle' or 'smithereen'), as in "blown to smithereens"


solas ('light').  This comes down from ancient Celtic but is cognate with the Latin word sol (the sun).  
Note that all of the stress has remained on the first syllable, reducing the a in the second syllable to
a schwa.


sólás ('solace'), from Latin solatium (solace), this is cognate with the English word 'solace'.  Notice
that the stress has evened out between the syllables because of the fada in the second syllable.


spairn ('dispute' / 'contention'), which gives us "sparrin' partner".  Here we hear 3 variations based
on how we can choose to pronounce ai.


sponc ('tinder' / 'spark' / 'fire' / 'spirit' / 'spunk''), as in "The kid has spunk."


spraoi ('spree' / 'fun' 'a dance' / 'a party'), as in "to go on a spree".  Here you have 2 variations
based on how you can choose to say aoi.


teann trom (literally 'heavy rigidity'), which gives us "tantrum".  Here we hear variations based on
how we can choose to pronounce a slender t in teann and whether we choose to insert a y-glide
after that slender t.


toraí (literally 'pursuer', a Tory), which has been applied over time to Irish rebels, Americans loyal
to England, and England's Conservative Party.  Here you hear 2 variations based on how you can
choose to pronounce the broad t.


triubhas ('trousers''), which gives us "trews"


uisce beatha (literally 'water of life'), which gives us "whiskey"
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