Irish Language Blog

25 Ways to Say ‘Family’ in Irish, Cuid a hAon (Pt. 1) Posted by on Feb 25, 2016 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)


Teaghlach núicléach, ach tá a lán cineálacha eile ann chomh maith. Léigh leat le fáil amach a lán dóigheanna eile le "family" a rá i nGaeilge. (grafaic:

Teaghlach núicléach, ach tá a lán cineálacha eile ann chomh maith. Léigh leat le fáil amach a lán dóigheanna eile le “family” a rá i nGaeilge. (grafaic:

In a recent blog (nasc thíos), we examined the word ‘muirín,’ one of many Irish words for ‘family.’  As you may recall, we looked at “muirín” in comparison to a homograph (muirín as “a scallop,” of all things!) and also in comparison to the similarly-spelled múirín, which has two distinct meanings, 1) compost,  and 2) a shower of rain.  In that blog, I counted six words for family.  But looking further, I find there are actually at least 23 more.   Admittedly, of these, the top two are probably “teaghlach” and “clann,” with “clann” being specifically the children of the family.  The other 23 in the list have increasingly specialized uses.

Covering all 25 in one blog would be too much, so I’ll be dividing this blog into several  sections.

Let’s take a look at how these words for “family” are used, and what different nuances of meaning they have.  En route, we’ll also do a few pronunciation tips, and round out the entries with plural and possessive forms.  I’ve divided the words in rough categories, and given the genitive singular (gs) and genitive plural (gpl) as well:

A. Household and Children

  1. teaghlach, family, household; an teaghlach (gs: ainm an teaghlaigh [TCHA-lee]), pl: na teaghlaigh, (gpl: comharsanúlacht na dteaghlach [DJA-lukh]). The other meanings of this word are, I think, far less frequent (household troops, retinue, and very early on, a monastic family). I’d say this is the most basic word for “family;” certainly it seems to be the one most commonly taught in textbooks.   A nice cognate of the Welsh ‘teulu.”
  2. clann, family/children, offspring, progeny; an chlann (gs: ainmneacha na clainne), pl: na clanna (gpl: ainmneacha na gclann). There are some additional meanings beyond the immediate sense of the children of a family: sept, clan, party, sect, and if one goes back early enough, plant (although that is usually “planda” these days). Examples of the extended meaning include Clanna Gael (the Gaels), or referring to descendants (Clanna Néill), or followers (Clann Liútair, Lutherans).  Although the English word “clan” does derive from this, you’ll often find “fine” [FIN-yuh] or “treibh” [trev] used for “clan” in the sociological or anthropological sense.   Intriguingly, “clann” is also used for a “family of comets,” which is “clann coiméad.”
  3. líon tí, family, household, the residents of a house, lit. filling of a house; an líon tí (gs: struchtúr an líon tí), na líonta tí (gpl: struchtúr na líonta tí). Another word for “household,” without necessarily having the sense of “family,” is “lucht an tí” (the “folks” of the house)
  4. comhluadar [KOH-LOO-uh-dur], family, household, social company, society; an comhluadar (gs: “Spiorad an Chomhluadair,” the name of a program on raising a family through Irish, as discussed in the program cited in the “naisc“). This word would rarely be used in the plural, but in theory it could be, with the forms “na comhluadair” and for genitive “na gcomhluadar

Well, that’s the first four, anyway.  Níos mó le teacht.  SGF – Róislín

Cúpla nasc:
iarbhlag: An Dá Mhuirín agus an Dá Mhúirín (families, scallops, and leaf-mould, oh my! — plus ‘showers’ but that would break ‘an mhéim’), Posted on 22. Feb, 2016 by róislín in Irish Language (
an focal “comhluadar”: (about raising Irish-speaking families)

Gluais: coiméad, a comet, and the same form means “of comets”; comharsanúlacht, neighborliness

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  1. Seán Moran:

    (The Boss is out this morning, so I’m just catching up.) GRMA, a Róislín.

    • róislín:

      @Seán Moran Tá áthas orm go bhfuil tú ag léamh leat ach ní raibh a fhios agam go raibh tú ag obair do Bruce Springsteen!

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