Irish Language Blog

Cool, Cold, Freezing, Frigorific (i nGaeilge) Posted by on Sep 15, 2010 in Irish Language

Recently, we’ve talked a lot about an aimsir, hairicíní, cineálacha eile stoirmeacha, and céimeanna teasa, from warm to hot to sweltering.  This time, we’ll reverse the theme of the last blog, and discuss degrees of fuacht ([FOO-ukht] coldness).

First, probably the most basic construction:

Tá sé fuar inniu.  It’s cold today.

Tá mé fuar.  I’m cold.

A few other expressions with “fuar” are

bainne fuar, cold milk

fuarungadh, cold-cream

fuarchroíoch [FOO-ur-KHREE-ukh], cold-hearted

And, curiously, Irish has at least two phrases for “cold porridge,” fuarleite and brachán fuarNeam! neam!   But that’s not all.  The idea of “cold porridge” can even be used metaphorically in Irish, as in the phrase “Is brachán ó aréir é,” i.e. cold comfort, lit. “last night’s porridge.”  Double “neam neam”!

For “cool,” there are various choices, mostly all compound words, which, in and of itself is revealing.  The idea of “cool” in Irish seems to be more a toning down of cold (fuar) rather than a specific idea of temperature.

fionnuar (fionn, fair, slight + fhuar, cool)

féithuar, in my experience this is much less typical than fionnuar.

Related words, all still based on the word for “cold” (fuar), include:

fuarthan, a cool place for storing things

fuarthán, coolant

dul i bhfuaire, to cool down

fuaraitheoir fíona, a wine-cooler

A “cool drink” could be “deoch fhuar,” which could also mean a “cold drink.”  But what would the difference have been, fadó, in a country where ice was not traditionally included with soft drinks?

The irresistible simile, “cool as a cucumber” can be expressed as:

Is í an fuarthé í.  She is as cool as a cucumber, lit. She’s an apathetic person.

Nothing to do with cúcamair, obviously.  But for full disclosure, I’d have to say that “fuarthé” doesn’t seem to be nearly as widely used in Irish as the cucumber analogy is in English, where, if anything, I’d say it’s an overdone cliché.

“Cool” in the sense of “hip” or “trendy” is a tricky translation in any language, at least of those I’ve checked.  For Irish, “réchúiseach” seems to fit the bill, but doesn’t have quite the panache of “cool,” whose monosyllabicity seems to intensify its meaning. “Réchúiseach” also means “easy-going” or “indifferent.”

As for “freezing,” there’s the literal concept, as in food, water, etc.  And then there’s the way people feel when they say, “I’m freezing.”

In the technical sense, words for “freezing” are usually based on “reo” (to freeze). “Reo” is related to the prefix “cryo-“ but most really scientific terms in Irish now use “crió-” for that, as in “crióscóp” or “crióiginic.”  Examples based on “reo” include:

feoil reoite, frozen meat

reoiteoir, freezer

reophointe, freezing-point

reoán, icing (for cake)

uachtar reoite or reoiteog, ice cream

When we feel freezing, we could say:

Tá mé sioctha. I’m frozen, closer to “sioc” (frost) than “reo” as such

Bhí mé leata leis an bhfuacht. I was perished with cold.

Tá muid caillte leis an bhfuacht. We’re perished (lit. lost) with the cold

Chuaigh an fuacht go smior ionainn.  The cold chilled us to the marrow.

Tá mé stromptha le fuacht.  I’m is stiff with cold, from strompadh, to stiffen (in general)

And finally, for “frigorific,” we have reoiteach, as in meascán reoiteach, frigorific mixture.  On a more everyday basis “reoiteach” can also be translated as “frosty” or “chilling,” as in “geimhreadh reoiteach.”

Next time, to continue on this theme, horripilation, anyone?

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  1. Fergus:

    I live in the Basque Country in northern Spain and really don’t have anyone who can teach me Irish. I was wondering if there was an Irish/English-English/Irish dictionary with The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). An Irish monolingual dictionary would be just as good. I’m so used to using IPA for other languages and it does make pronunciation so much easier when one is studying alone.

    • róislín:

      @Fergus Mholfainn “Foclóir Póca,” ISBN 9780828817080.

  2. Arthur:

    agus na déan dearmad, ag crith le fuacht.

    • róislín:

      @Arthur Pointe maith! Ag crith le fuacht – shaking with cold. Agus “creathanna fuachta” (cold shivers).

  3. Conor:

    “Tá fuacht orm” = I’m cold

    Tá an frása “Tá mé fuar” ceart go leor, ach tá an abairt “Tá fuacht orm” níos fearr – is leagan cainte Gaeilge (Irish idiom) é.

    • róislín:

      @Conor Go raibh maith agat as sin a sheoladh isteach. Dóigh eile lena rá, cinnte. Ciallaíonn sé “I feel cold” freisin.

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