Irish Language Blog

Irish Phrases and Idioms Using ‘Red,’ ‘White,’ and ‘Blue’ (Dearg, Bán, Gorm), pt. 3 Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

This will be the last of our three-part series on color phrases and idioms with red, white, and blue.  “Red” and “white” have been covered in the two previous blogposts.  Now it’s time for “gorm” (blue).  Someday, of course, we may continue this with other colors, but for now, these three will do.

riabha dearga agus bána le cúlra a bhfuil cruthanna ubhchruthacha, i stíl ealaín súl, ann: (grafaic:

riabha dearga agus bána le cúlra a bhfuil cruthanna ubhchruthacha, i stíl ealaín súl, ann: (grafaic:

As we did with “red” and “white,” we’ll start with the basics, some of the forms of the word itself, and then some phrases and idioms.

Gorm” can appear as “ghorm,” “gorma,” and “ghorma” for starters.  There actually are a few more forms, sa tuiseal ginideach, but those will have to wait for another day.

a) gorm [GOR-um, remember the extra “uh” sound that doesn’t show up in the spelling]

páipéar gorm, blue paper

bosca gorm, blue box

An Siondróm Gorm Leanaí, Blue Baby Syndrome, lit. the blue syndrome of babies

A few extended meanings are:

bláthach [BLAW-hukh] ghorm, bluish, i.e. inferior, buttermilk

bainne gorm, watery (bluish) milk

Agus cúpla frása:

gorm leis an bhfuacht, very cold, lit. blue with the cold

chomh gorm le plúirín, as blue as indigo

b) ghorm is used when the noun is feminine and singular:

béchuil ghorm stríocach, common blue damselfly (common bluet), lit. striped blue damselfly, which contrasts with “cuil ghorm” for “bluebottle-fly”

bratach ghorm, blue flag

bróg ghorm, blue shoe (singular)

cáis ghorm, blue cheese

cloch ghorm, bluestone

scréachóg ghorm, blue jay

léine ghorm, blue shirt, could be an ordinary blue shirt, or could refer to a member of “Lucht na Léinte Gorma” (The Blueshirts)

This “gh” sound, by the way, isn’t in English, but it has been discussed pretty thoroughly in other blogposts (naisc thíos).

c) gorma, the plural form used, in my estimation, about 95% of the time; examples include:

boscaí gorma, blue boxes

jíons gorma, blue jeans

bratacha gorma, blue flags; note that even the phrases that use “ghorm” in the singular may use “gorma” in the plural:

béchuileanna gorma stríocacha, common blue damselflies

cuileanna gorma, bluebottle flies

bróga gorma, blue shoes

scréachóga gorma, blue jays

d) ghorma, the last of the four forms for today’s blogpost, used in phrases like:

báid ghorma, blue boats

cupáin ghorma, blue cups

We use “ghorma” instead of “gorma” when the plural forms are created by inserting the letter “i” before the final consonant.  The final consonant now becomes “slender” (caol) and that’s why the pattern changes.

One very prominent aspect of the word “gorm,” somewhat beyond our scope here but very important, is the use of “gorm” for “black,” regarding skin-tone, as in the following: duine gorm, fear gorm, bean ghorm, daoine gorma.  Among the many uses of this, we have:

Comhlachas na nDlíodóirí Gorma, Black Lawyers Association, pronounced “KOH-luh-khus nun-LEE-uh-doh-irzh-ee GOR-um-uh”

Bhuel, that takes care of some usages of “gorm” for “blue,” or occasionally “black,” and I guess I’ll wrap it up before it sends me into a brown study.  Hopefully, no amount of vocabulary meanderings would ever actually put me into a blue funk, no matter how convoluted or nondisambiguatable!

BTW, a “blue funk” isn’t usually “blue” in Irish.  It could be “dubh” as in “lionn dubh.”  Or it could not even be a color term, as in the words “scaoll” (also: panic, alarm), “scéin” (also: fright, terror) or “critheagla” (lit. shaking-fear).  Nor are “brown studies” typically “brown” in Irish, ach sin ábhar blagmhíre eile.

Slán go fóill — Róislín

P.S.  Hmm, cén Ghaeilge a bheadh ar an Blue Man Group dá gcuirfí Gaeilge air?  Do bharúil?  Tá clú orthu ar fud an domhain–an aistrítear ainm an Ghrúpa?

Naisc: Fuaimniú an “gh” sna focail “ghorm” agus “ghorma” agus freisin i bhfocail agus i bhfrásaí mar iad seo a leanas:

le “gh”: “an Ghaeilge,” “Mo ghrá thú!,” agus “A Ghráinne!”

le “dh” (an fhuaim chéanna): “bó dhonn,” “A dhaoine uaisle!”
Saying “I love you” in Irish and Minding Your Velar Fricatives Posted by róislín on Oct 9, 2011 in Irish Language
Treoir don Treoir: A Guide to the Guide (for Pronunciation), Cuid a 2 Posted by róislín on Jul 27, 2010 in Irish Language

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