Irish Language Blog

Níos Mó Téarmaí Vailintín Posted by on Feb 17, 2011 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Here’s a final round-up of some terms pertaining to love, ranging from the requited to the unrequited (grá leatromach):

cion, love, affection

Tá cion agam ar Shinéad, I’m fond of Sinéad

This word also shows up sa tuiseal ginideach (“ceana“) in various phrases, like:

ainm ceana, a pet name, a fond name

Seán an cheana, beloved Seán

Regarding people, we have:

leannán, lover or sweetheart

suiríoch, wooer, suitor; this word can also mean “the act of wooing or courting,” although another form, suirí, is probably a little more typical for the latter

And for the heartsick, heartbroken, and lovelorn:

Tá sé i bpian an ghrá, he is lovelorn, lit. he is in the pain of love

Tá sé croíbhriste, he is heartbroken (croí, heart + briste, broken, with séimhiú on the “b,” making it “bh”)


Tá a chroí briste, his heart is broken.

Níl croí ná misneach aici, she is heartsick, lit. She has neither heart nor courage, or even more literally, and given here just to illustrate the sentence structure, “Neither heart nor courage is at her.”  In Irish, the subject of this sentence isn’t “she,” as it would be in English.  “Croí” and “misneach” are the subjects of the sentence.  “Aici” means “at her” and is used to show possession.

A few phrases that reflect the less praiseworthy side of human nature, even when the person involved is seemingly charming:

“Mo ghrá thú agus rud agat,” you are my love as long as you have something to offer, that is, as long as a thing (rud) is “at you” (agat).  In Irish, the whole “as long as” bit isn’t necessary since it’s implied by the use of “agus.”  Nor does the Irish actually say “to offer,” again, that’s implied.

Bhí sé ag suirí a cuid airgid, he was courting her for her money, lit. he was courting her money, or even more literally, “he was courting her share of money.”  But the “share” part shouldn’t attract undue attention since one normally says “mo chuid airgid” (my share of money) in Irish; one rarely actually says “my money” without the word “cuid” (share, portion).  And that’s another good reason to master an tuiseal ginideach, since “airgead” (money) has switched to airgid (of money) which is the genitive case form.  “A cuid airgid” is literally “her share of money.”

So that should keep you going, at least until Lá Vailintín seo chugainn.  But if you’re interested in more terms of affection, let me know and I’ll write up some more.  Is mór an stór focal é!

Before we close, how are you doing with your voiced velar fricatives?  Those are the guttural (throaty) sounds needed for words spelled with combinations of “gh” or “dh” followed by the vowels “a,” “o,” or “u.”  Samplaí?  Seo dhuit:

dhuit, to you, singular

dhaoibh to you, plural

a Dhónail! O Donald! or O Dónal!, used when speaking directly to him

Ní Dhomhnaill, feminine form of the surname Ó Domhnaill

A ghrá! O love!

A ghrá geal! O bright love!

mo ghrá, my love, usually for a third-person reference, like “My love has forsaken me,” not for direct address, which would be “a ghrá

x-gha, x-ray

So, yes, “dha” and “gha” at the beginning of a word sound the same in Irish.  And no, these “dh” and “gh” sounds are not the same as “dh” and “gh” when followed by the vowels “e” or “i.”  That’s basically ábhar blag eile, but just to jog your memory, think of how you say “A Dhiarmaid!” (for direct address) and “an ghealach” (the moon).

Gluais: leatromach, unbalanced, lopsided

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Irish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it


  1. Christine Eddy:

    I am always surprised to find an Irish word turn up unexpectedly. I was watching “Christmas in Connecticut” and the main character called her cow “Mo chuisle”. I guess using Google they used that in “Million Dollar Baby” too.

  2. Christine Edd:

    It is always interesting when an Irish word turns up unexpectedly. In the movie “Christmas in Connecticut” the main character calls her cow “mo chuisle”, which I understand is another term of endearment.

    • róislín:

      @Christine Edd A Christine, a chara,
      Revisiting this topic, as Valentine’s Day approaches, I was reminded of your note responding to this blog. Thank you again for writing in. I assume you saw the following blog (Beagáinín Eile faoi Théarmaí Vailintín: “Macushla” Mar Ainm Bó Posted on 23. Feb, 2011), which thanked you for the reference and pursued the topic a little further. I’ve looked again for more information on the cow who played “Macushla,” but to no avail. I also find myself wondering who decided to give the cow a name, but it still seems like Una O’Connor (née Agnes Teresa McGlade; “Norah” in the movie) would be a likely candidate, unless it was in the original story. I wonder if that was ever published separately or if it was written as a movie script. So far, it seems pretty elusive. Anyway, I wish there was a little more background available on the role of the cow, but so far, there’s nothing much. It’s an interesting ábhar machnaimh, and as you say, it’s always fun when words like this pop up in the middle of Hollywood pop-culturedom. Meanwhile, it’s a good word to recognize in preparation for yet another Lá Vailintín. -Róislín

Leave a comment: