Irish Language Blog

Cineálacha Stoirmeacha (Kinds of Storms) Posted by on Sep 3, 2010 in Irish Language

Last blog we discussed hairicíní, for which the Irish word is an adaptation of either the Carib for “God of Evil” or the name of a Mayan storm god, Hurakan – the sources for this don’t agree on which.  Either way, the word went through a couple of filters before reaching Irish, namely Spanish “huracán” and English “hurricane.”

Here are a few more words for storms and the like.  They’re listed with the definite article, which will usually show the gender of the word.

stoirm (an stoirm): storm

stoirm mhór (an stoirm mhór): big storm

spéirling (an spéirling): thunderstorm

stoirm thoirní (an stoirm thoirní): thunderstorm

stoirm ghaoithe (an stoirm ghaoithe): wind storm

síon (an tsíon): weather, usually implying stormy; cf. gaillshíon in the note below

anfa (an t-anfa): storm, tempest

anfa gaoithe (an t-anfa gaoithe): wind storm

saighneán gaoithe (an saighneán gaoithe): sudden blast of wind

gála (an gála): gale

cioclón (an cioclón): cyclone

cuaranfa (an cuaranfa): cyclone (from cuar, curved + anfa, storm)

tíofún (an tíofún): typhoon

And just for good measure, on the drier side,

sireacó (an sireacó): sirocco

“Mistral,” however, stays the same in Irish.

Of course, one can always just say: drochaimsir (bad weather).

Nóta: As far as I can tell, none of the Scottish Gaelic (SG) words for “hurricane” come from the Carib/Maya root.  Here are a few of the words I’ve found considered equivalent to “hurricane,” listed with their Irish equivalent (listed as “IG”) and usual meaning:

SG: doineann (wild weather, hurricane)            IG: doineann (stormy weather)

SG: gailleann (storm, tempest, hurricane)         IG: gaillshíon or gailfean (rough blustery weather, storm, tempest), cf. SG: gàill, a “storm” or a “surly look.” Nice use of meafar (metaphor), that!

Needless to say, most languages are richest in vocabulary pertaining to the lifestyle in the region where they are spoken.  So, although, both Scotland and Ireland are known for bad or rainy weather, and have many words to describe it, the vocabulary for “hurricane,” as such, is either adapted from an existing word, as in Scottish Gaelic, or, as in “hairicín,” borrowed.

Personally, I think that with so many types of wind and storms, the most precise approach is actually to borrow the native word, at least as best we know it from Spanish, and adapt it, as necessary, to Irish spelling, as in “hairicín.”

Maybe by the next blog, Hairicín Earl, and even Hairicín Fióna, will have dissipated.  In which case, we can either continue discussing weather, or move on to other September- related topics, like school, foliage, and/or various holidays for this month, from around the world (Grandparents Day, in the U.S. and Canada; Respect for the Aged Day, in Japan, and Talk Like A Pirate Day on September 19).  Moltaí ar bith?  Slán go fóill, Róislín

P.S. Nuashonrúchán (30 Deireadh Fómhair 2012): There is another blog, with related vocabulary at:

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  1. Su Bedell:

    My friend from Skibbereen is always saying there’s a “Scarabien” (pardon my spelling) blowing, but I can’t find that word for gale force or strong wind in any Irish translation. She’s 84 and learned the “old Irish”
    Is what you teach the so called New Irish or do you also incorporate the original language as well?

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