Irish Language Blog

Cén sórt rothair é seo? Irish words for types of bicycles Posted by on May 27, 2018 in Irish Language

(le Róislín), young velocipedist on Michaux velocipede [September 1868, Le Centaure magazine (Paris), Sept. 186 8, Author Unknown, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; téacs Gaeilge le Róislín, 2018

In keeping with our recent thread on bicycles, including a brief discussion of the globe-trotting bicycle “Rozinante” (owned by _____? freagra thíos),  here’s a matching game for types of bicycles.  An aithníonn iad go léir?  Freagraí thíos, mar is gnáth.

Note that in at least one case there are two different Irish phrases for one English phrase.  And one extra word is given in the Irish column just to add to the dúshlán (challenge; remember for pronunciation, the “s” is silent).   The answer for that is given in the notes, but not in the text box.

The answer key also contains a few background notes and a few pronunciation tips.


Téarma Gaeilge Béarla
1. rothar comhrá mountain
2. rothar aclaíochta folding/fold-up
3. rothar sléibhe recumbent
4. rothar leictreach tandem
5. rothar coise wheelie
6. rothar infhillte side-by-side
7. rothar sínteach velocipede
8. rothar tandaim motorized
9. rothar beirte exercise
10. *rothar faoilí tandem
11. aonrothach

Before I sign off, just curious if any of you have  ridden a velocipede or any other unusual or vintage bicycle?  If so, perhaps you could write in and tell us, i nGaeilge más féidir (Chuaigh mé ag marcaíocht ar ____; Bhí mé ag rothaíocht ar ____, srl.).  Slán go fóill – Róislín

Freagraí agus Nótaí

ceist: Is í Dervla Murphy úinéir Rozinante.  Chuaigh Dervla ó Éirinn go dtí an India sa bhliain 1963 ar Rozinante.

Na Téarmaí

1., rothar comhrá, side-by-side bicycle.  This might have been even better for “Daisy” (of Tin Pan Alley fame) than a standard “tandem” bicycle.

2., rothar aclaíochta, exercise bicycle.  Tip: this “ch” like German “Achtung” or Welsh  “bach

3., rothar sléibhe, mountain bicycle.  Tip: initial “s” slender, so say “shlay…”

4., rothar leictreach, motorized (or electric or e- or power-assisted)

5., rothar coise, velocipede, lit. a “foot bicycle,” an interesting term, since, as far as I know, there are no “hand bicycles.”  I’m no bicycle technician but I imagine this term is based on the fact the feet and pedals appear to be centered on the hub (an mol, i nGaeilge, an cuimhin leat?) instead of having a chain and the pedals between the front and back wheels.

6., rothar infhillte, folding bicycle or fold-up bicycle.  Tip: the “fh” is silent

7., rothar sínteach, recumbent bicycle.  Tip: the “s” is “caol” (slender), so say “sheen …”

8., rothar tandaim, tandem bicycle

9., rothar beirte, tandem bicycle.  Tip: the final “e” is pronounced, if lightly, unlike most final “e’s” in English, which are usually silent (lane, mane, lake, Jake etc.)

10., *rothar faoilí, a wheelie bike  — OK, I sort of made up this term, since I couldn’t find it in any dictionary.  If we created a term for “wheelie bike” based on the Irish for “wheelie bin,” it would be a bit redundant, perhaps to the point of absurdity.  The Irish terms for “wheelie bin” simply add “rothaí” (of wheels) or “ar rothaí” (on wheels): araid rothaí or bosca bruscair ar rothaí, so we’d have …  ” rothar rothaí ” or “rothar ar rothaí” — neither of which is a very graceful a term, i mo bharúil féin.  So I propose “rothar faoilí,” using the existing word “faoilí,” found in phrases like the following: “Ghearr sé faoilí,” “Chaith sé faoilí,” and “Rinne sé faoilí,”  all of which mean, “He popped a wheelie.”

11., aonrothach, our “téarma dúshláin,” is a unicycle, lit. “one-wheeled”. Tip: the “t” is silent.

And a final note, speaking of terms that I can’t find documented in Irish, here are a few more.  Barúlacha ag duine ar bith ar an liosta seo — an bhfuil téarma Gaeilge orthu?

banana bike – I love the idea of saying “rothar banana” but am not sure it’s ever actually used.  No Google hits, anyway.

penny-farthing – the Irish for “penny” and “farthing” is clear enough (pingin agus feoirling), but I haven’t been able to determine if this is actually used for the old-fashioned bicycles.

quadricycle – possibly “ceathair-rothach” or “ceithrerothach,” but I found no hits online for either term as a noun for the cycle itself.  But “quadricycle” could also mean “a bicycle for four people,” so perhaps “rothar ceathrair“?  Can we use the adjective “ceathair-rothach” (four-wheeled) as a noun for a four-wheeled bicycle?  I suppose so, since ‘trírothach” can mean either “tricycle” or “three-wheeled.”

octocycle or octo-bike – presumably “ochtrothach,” but also no hits online for this term .  Or perhaps “rothar ochtair” (a bicycle for eight people).  The English term  “octo-bike,” though predictable, technically should have 10 (or perhaps 16, depending on your viewpoint) wheels, since the “bi-” already means “two.”  So “octocycle” seems more accurate.  But we don’t want to split hairs, do we?

Ceann ar bith eile?

Naisc don bhlag faoi pháirteanna an rothair:

Agus Anois an Ceistiúchán: Páirteanna Rothair i nGaeilge: Líon Isteach na Bearnaí Posted by  on May 23, 2018 in Irish Language

PÁIRTEANNA ROTHAIR i nGAEILGE (Parts of a Bicycle, in Irish) Posted by róislín on May 20, 2018 in Irish Language

Nasc don iarbhlagmhír faoi Dervla Murphy: Cé a chuaigh ó Éirinn go dtí an India ar rothar (Which Irish cyclist went from Ireland to India by bike) agus ar an ábhar sin, cén Ghaeilge atá ar ‘full tilt’?Posted by róislín on May 15, 2018 in Irish Language

Agus maidir leis an rothar a bhí ag Dervla Murphy (‘Roz’ aka Rozinante):!topic/

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