Get to grips with some Gaelic Irish Words

 

If you want to learn to speak Gaelic or Gaeilge or Irish as it is also known, it is worth getting to grips with the basic list of Gaelic Irish words below. If you spend some time in Ireland, you will see Gaelic words on lots of signs and placenames and hear it on Irish television and radio.

While English is certainly the dominant language in all but some Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) areas, a trip to Ireland will be so much richer if you have at least a smattering of Irish words.

It is important to know also that some Gaelic words vary from one dialect to another. In Ireland there are three key dialects in the North (Ulster), West (Connaught) and South (Munster). For example, the word for table in Connaught and Munster Irish is bord while in Ulster Gaelic it is tábla.

Gaelic Irish words on signpost
Learning a few Gaelic Irish words can
a trip to Ireland a lot more fun
-photo courtesy of Paul Downey

Because of TV and improved communications, most Gaelic speakers are also now more familiar with and influenced by each other's dialects, so learning one dialect does not cause the communication difficulties it might once have.

Anyway, most people in Ireland learn standard (caighdeán) Gaelic in school, basically a mix of all three dialects. I have taken the most common form of the Irish words below. I give a non-linguistic pronunciation guide to the words below, a fairly literal translation and the English translation.

And while it can be a little daunting for someone learning the language at the beginning, it is important to know that the form of a Gaelic word can and does change, not only in the singular and plural forms, but also depending on whether it is used in the nominative, vocative, accusative, and genitive cases.

"What the hell does that mean?", I hear some of you ask. While I won't go into all the details (for that you need a more intense grammar lesson),the easiest way to explain is with an example of the kind of changes that Irish words undergo.

Word
Pronounced
In English

an fear
on far
the man

na fir
nah fir
the men
Word
Pronounced
In English
hata an fhir
hot-ah on ir
the man's hat
hataí na bhfear
hot-ee nah var
the men's hats
Word
Pronounced
In English
don fhear
dun ar
to the man
do na fir
duh nah fir
to the men

In the pronunciation guide for all the Gaelic Irish words below I have left 'ch' as is. This is because 'ch' in Gaelic does not have a equivalent sound in English. That said, many people will be familiar with the throaty sound made in the Scottish and Irish word 'loch'. This is the correct sound. If you are not able to replicate this sound, pronounce 'ch' as a 'k'. It may not be correct but you will be understood. Just don't pronounce 'ch' as 'ch' in 'church' which no one will understand.

 

Gaelic Irish Words by category

Food
Eating
Days of the Week
Months of the Year
Counting 1-10
People and Family
Colours/Colors
Modes of Transport
Around the House
Parts of the Body

Irish Gaelic Phrases and Expressions Page

 

Food

Word
Pronounced
In English

arán
a-rawn
bread

Word
Pronounced
In English
subh
suv
jam
Word
Pronounced
In English
im
im
butter
Word
Pronounced
In English
siúcra
shoo-kra
sugar
Word
Pronounced
In English

salann
sol-in
salt

Word
Pronounced
In English

piobar
piu-bar
pepper

Word
Pronounced
In English
feoil
fyole
meat
Word
Pronounced
In English
glasraí
gloss-ree
vegetables
Word
Pronounced
In English

úll
ool
apple

Word
Pronounced
In English
oráiste
or-osh-te
orange
Word
Pronounced
In English
anraith
an-rah
soup
Word
Pronounced
In English

tae
tay
tea

Word
Pronounced
In English
tráta
traw-ta
tomato
Word
Pronounced
In English
císte
kee-shte
cake
Word
Pronounced
In English
tae
tay
tea
Word
Pronounced
In English
bainne
bon-yeh
milk
Word
Pronounced
In English
caife
ka-fay
coffee
Word
Pronounced
In English
beoir
byo-ir
beer
Word
Pronounced
In English
uisce
ish-ka
water
Word
Pronounced
In English
uisce beatha
ish-ka ba-ha
whiskey (water of life)
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Eating

Word
Pronounced
In English

cupán, cupán tae, cupán caifé
kup-on, kup-on tay, kup-on ka-fay
cup, cup of milk, cup of coffee

Word
Pronounced
In English
pláta
plaw-ta
plate
Word
Pronounced
In English
gloine
gli-nya
glass
Word
Pronounced
In English
fo-chupán
fuh kup-on
saucer
Word
Pronounced
In English

scian
shkeen
knife

Word
Pronounced
In English

forc
fork
fork

Word
Pronounced
In English
spúnóg
spoon-ogue
spoon
Word
Pronounced
In English
babhla
bau-la
bowl
Word
Pronounced
In English

buidéal, buidéal uisce
buh-jail, buh-jail ish-ka
bottle, bottle of water

Word
Pronounced
In English
ag ithe
egg ih-ha
eating
Word
Pronounced
In English
bia
bee-ah
food
Word
Pronounced
In English

bialann
bee-ah-lan
restaurant

Word
Pronounced
In English

crúiscín
crew-shkeen
jug

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Days of the week in Gaelic

Word
Pronounced
In English

Dé Luain
Day Lune
Monday
Word
Pronounced
In English
Dé Máirt
Day Morch
Tuesday
Word
Pronounced
In English
Dé Chéadaoin
Day Chay-jeen
Wednesday
Word
Pronounced
In English
Déardaoin
Dare-jeen
Thursday
Word
Pronounced
In English
 

Dé hAoine
Day Heen-ah
Friday

Word
Pronounced
In English

Dé Sathairn
Day Sa-hern
Saturday

Word
Pronounced
In English
Dé Domhnaigh
Day Down-ig
Sunday

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Months of the Year in Gaelic


Word
Pronounced
In English

Eanáir
An-awr
January

Word
Pronounced
In English
Feabhra
Fee-yow-ra
February
Word
Pronounced
In English
Márta
Mawr-ta
March
Word
Pronounced
In English
Aibreán
Ab-rawn
April
Word
Pronounced
In English

Bealtaine
Bi-yowl-tin-eh
May

Word
Pronounced
In English

Meitheamh
Meh-hiv
June

Word
Pronounced
In English
Iúil
You-ill
July
Word
Pronounced
In English
Lúnasa
Loon-ass-ah
August
Word
Pronounced
In English

Meán Fómhair
Maan Fo-eer
September

Word
Pronounced
In English
Deireadh Fómhair
Der-eh Fo-eer
October
Word
Pronounced
In English
Samhain
Sow-in (sow as in female pig)
November
Word
Pronounced
In English

Nollaig
Null-ig
December

Return to Gaelic Words Categories

Counting

The Gaelic Irish words used for counting change somewhat when used with an object. For example, if I am just counting 1-3 (cardinal numbers), it will be simply a haon, a dó, a trí. However, if I put an object (noun) with it to count boats it will become aon bhád amháin, dhá bhád, trí bhád. I include both below for numbers 1-10.

Word
Pronounced
In English

a haon, aon bhád amháin
ah-hane, ane vawd a-wawn
one, one boat

Word
Pronounced
In English
a dó, dhá bhád
ah doh, gaw vawd
two, two boats
Word
Pronounced
In English
a trí, trí bhád
ah tree, tree vawd
three, three boats
Word
Pronounced
In English

a ceathair, ceithre bhád
ah ka-hir
four, four boats

Word
Pronounced
In English

a cúig, cúig bhád
ah koo-ig, koo-ig vawd
five, five boats

Word
Pronounced
In English
a sé, sé bhád
ah shay, shay vawd
six, six boats
Word
Pronounced
In English
a seacht, seacht mbád
ah shawcht, shawcht mawd
seven, seven boats
Word
Pronounced
In English

a hocht, ocht mbád
ah hucht, ucht mawd
eight, eight boats

Word
Pronounced
In English
a naoi, naoi mbád
ah nee, nee mawd
nine, nine boats
Word
Pronounced
In English

a deich, deich mbád
ah deh, deh mawd
ten, ten boats

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People and Family

Gaelic irish words-menGaelic Irish words -quite common on Irish lavatories
and sometimes without the images to help!
photo courtesy of dlkinney

Irish words -women

Word
Pronounced
In English

fear, fir
fahr, fir
man, men

Word
Pronounced
In English
bean, mná
bahn, min-aw
woman, women
Word
Pronounced
In English
cáilín,
coll-een, coll-een-ee
girl, girls
Word
Pronounced
In English
buachaill, buachaillí
boo-chill, boo-chill-ee
boy, boys
Word
Pronounced
In English

athair
ah-hur
father

Word
Pronounced
In English

máthair, máithreacha
mother, mothers
June

Word
Pronounced
In English
deartháir, deartháireacha
dre-hawr, dre-haw-rich-ah
brother, brothers
Word
Pronounced
In English
deirfiúr, deirfiúreacha
dre-foor, dre-foor-ach-ah
sister, sisters
Word
Pronounced
In English

mac, mic
mock, mick
son, sons

Word
Pronounced
In English
iníon, iníoní
in-een, in-een-ee
daughter, daughters
Word
Pronounced
In English

uncail
un-kill
uncle

Word
Pronounced
In English

aintín
an-cheen
aunt

Word
Pronounced
In English
páiste, páistí
pawsh-teh, pawsh-tee
child, children
Word
Pronounced
In English

duine, daoine
din-eh, dee-neh
person, people

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Colours

Word
Pronounced
In English

bán
bawn
white

Word
Pronounced
In English
dearg
jar-ig
red
Word
Pronounced
In English
buí
bwee
yellow
Word
Pronounced
In English

gorm
gur-im
blue

Word
Pronounced
In English

glas
gloss
green

Word
Pronounced
In English
oráiste
or-awsh-te
orange
Word
Pronounced
In English
donn
down
brown
Word
Pronounced
In English

liath
lee-ah
grey

Word
Pronounced
In English
bán-dearg
bawn-jar-ig
pink
Word
Pronounced
In English

corcra
kur-kra
purple

Word
Pronounced
In English

aintín
an-cheen
aunt

Word
Pronounced
In English
páiste, páistí
pawsh-teh, pawsh-tee
child, children

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Means of Transport

Word
Pronounced
In English

gluaisteán, carr
glewsh-tawn, kawr
car

Word
Pronounced
In English
bus
bus
bus
Word
Pronounced
In English
leoraí
loh-ree
truck
Word
Pronounced
In English

traein
tray-in
train

Word
Pronounced
In English

tarracóir
taw-ra-kore
tractor

Word
Pronounced
In English
rothar
ruh-har
bicycle
Word
Pronounced
In English
eitleán
et-il-awn
airplane
Word
Pronounced
In English

bád
bawd
boat

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The House

Word
Pronounced
In English

teach
ty-ach
house

Word
Pronounced
In English
gairdín
gar-jeen
garden
Word
Pronounced
In English
pictiúr
pic-tyoor
picture
Word
Pronounced
In English

guthán,
guh-hawn,
telephone

Word
Pronounced
In English

clog
clug
clock

Word
Pronounced
In English
fuinneog
fwin-yogue
window
Word
Pronounced
In English
cathaoir
cah-heer
chair
Word
Pronounced
In English

tolg
tull-ig
sofa, couch

Word
Pronounced
In English
lampa
lawm-pa
lamp
Word
Pronounced
In English

solas
sul-ass
light

Word
Pronounced
In English

bord
bored
table

Word
Pronounced
In English
leabhar
lau-er
book

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Irish words for Parts of the Body

Word
Pronounced
In English

gruaig
grew-ig
hair

Word
Pronounced
In English
súil
soo-il
eye
Word
Pronounced
In English
gualainn
goo-lin
shoulder
Word
Pronounced
In English

lámh
lawve
hand, also arm

Word
Pronounced
In English

ceann
kyan
head

Word
Pronounced
In English
uilinn
ill-inn
elbow
Word
Pronounced
In English
bolg
bull-ig
belly, stomach
Word
Pronounced
In English

cluas
kluss
ear

Word
Pronounced
In English
cos
kuss
leg, also foot
Word
Pronounced
In English

srón
shrone
nose

Word
Pronounced
In English

béal
bay-il
mouth

Word
Pronounced
In English
gliún
glue-in
knee
Word
Pronounced
In English
fiacla
fe-ah-kla
teeth

I am open to correction or suggested improvements on anything above. I would also love to hear of other categories of Gaelic Irish words you think should have been included as basics. Get in touch with me through the contact GaelicMatters page.

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Other Pages Related to Irish Words


Visit the Irish Gaelic Phrases and Gaelic Expressions Page

Our Learn Irish Gaelic Page

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