Irish Language Blog

Irish Words for Sneezing and Coughing — Sraothartach agus Casachtach (COVID-19 terms) Posted by on Feb 18, 2020 in Irish Language

(le Róislín) 

Téacs Gaeilge le Róislín, 2020. Graphic:, Public Domain, created 1 Jan 2009, original caption: James Gathany – CDC Public Health Image library ID 11162 A man mid-sneeze. Original CDC caption: “This 2009 photograph captured a sneeze in progress, revealing the plume of salivary droplets as they are expelled in a large cone-shaped array from this man’s open mouth, thereby dramatically illustrating the reason one needs to cover his/her mouth when coughing, or sneezing, in order to protect others from germ exposure.”

In keeping with the novel coronavirus terms introduced in the previous blog (nasc thíos), we add a few more terms here: sneezing and coughing, and related terms like “droplets” and “salivary.”

Let’s start with “sneeze” and some of its various forms.  The most basic, in my experience, is “sraoth a ligean” (lit. to release a sneeze) and “sraothartach” is “the act of sneezing/” In the main body of this blogpost, I’ll run through this version; then for the die-hards, I’ll include a footnote with three other ways to say “sneeze” in Irish, all more or less related but distinctive in spelling and/or structure.

I sneeze: ligim sraoth (lit. I release a sneeze)

I sneezed: lig mé sraoth

I will sneeze: ligfidh mé sraoth

To sneeze: sraoth a ligean (lit. to release a sneeze)

Sneezing (with progressive form of verb): ag ligean sraotha

Sneezing (the act of), sraothartach, f. Also means “snorting” Variations: snaofairt, sraothairt and sraothartaíl [note the “-aíl” ending there, not the typical “-áil”]

The basic noun for “a sneeze” or “a snort” is “sraoth;” for “the sneeze”: an sraoth, pl: the sneezes: na sraothanna

Pronunciation tips: the “ao” is like an “ee” sound in English.  The initial “sr” sound may not be very familiar to most English speakers, but if you think of saying “grocery” without the middle “e,” as many of us do, you’ll have the “sr” part; of course this Irish “r” is also “flapped” (slightly trilled), so it’s not quite like the English.  Alternately, just think of Irish words like “srón,” “sraith,” “sruth” or “sram.”

A few more “sneeze” related terms are:

Sraoth a chosc, to repress a sneeze

Sraoth a phlúchadh, to strangle a sneeze

And one English “sneeze” phrase that isn’t “sneezy” at all in Irish is “Níl caill ar bith ar an tuarastal sin” or “Ní suarach an tuarastal é sin” – that salary is nothing to sneeze at.

Next, the verb “to cough” in Irish:

One of the most basic ways to say “to cough” in Irish requires the verb “to be,” since we’re not really saying “to cough” but rather “to be coughing (a bheith ag casacht).”  Another way, using the verb “to do” is in the note below.  There is also a variation of “casacht,” which is “casachtach.”

I (habitually) cough: Bím ag casacht (lit. I (habitually) am coughing)

I am coughing: Tá mé ag casacht

I was coughing.  Bhí mé ag casacht.

I will be coughing.  Beidh mé ag casacht.

To cough: a bheith ag casacht

Coughing: casacht OR casachtach

A few more cough related terms:

Cough drop, milseán casachta;  losainn (lozenge) chasachta

Cough syrup, síoróip chasachta

The English idiom “to cough up money” doesn’t refer to “coughing” at all: an t-airgead a íoc go drogallach (lit. to pay the money reluctantly), or an t-airgead a íoc sa deireadh thiar thall (lit. to pay the money in the final end, or, to be really literal, “in the back/west over end,” which, of course, barely makes sines in English).

Braoiníní Seileacha (as seen in the graphic above)

Then we have the infamous droplets (braoiníní) that carry an coróinvíreas from victim to victim.  Prior to the arrival of the coronavirus, I would have thought of braoinín, in a much more pleasant context, as a droplet or a wee drop (of the “crayther” i.e. an stuif crua or whiskey or “uisce beatha”).  Now, however, the context is completely different, and much more somber.  The root of this word is “braon” (a drop), which can be used in various contexts, such as braon tae, braon fola, braon báistí, braon branda, braon bainne, or the amount [of liquor that needs to be “faoi d’fhiacla agat” for you to be considered “well away.” Now of course the concern is the braoiníní seileacha, or salivary droplets that carry the virus.

BTW, there is a related word “braonán,” also meaning “droplet,” as in “coinneal bhraonáin” (an icicle, lit. a candle of droplets).

Seileach,” is from the word “seile” (saliva). Other related words include “dabaí seile” (flecks of saliva) and “seiliú” (to salivate. When we add “seileach” to the plural form “braoiníní,” we add an “-a” at the end, so “braoiníní seileacha.”

Bhuel, it may not be the most pleasant topic to deal with, but it’s tráthúil, so I hope you found it úsáideach.  – Róislín

Nóta: dóigheanna breise le “sneeze” a rá:

First, we can use the verb “to be”:

I am (habitually) sneezing: Bím ag snaofairt / Bím ag sraothfairt (a Conamara form)

I am sneezing: Tá mé ag snaofairt / ag sraothfairt

I was sneezing: Bhí mé ag snaofairt / ag sraothfairt

I will be sneezing: Beidh mé ag snaofairt / ag sraothfairt

To sneeze: a bheith ag snaofairt / a bheith ag sraothfairt

Sneezing: ag snaofairt / ag sraothfairt


The next two ways use the verb “make” and “put,” respectively, and the “sneeze” part is actually a noun:

I sneeze: déanaim sraoth (I do a sneeze), cuirim sraoth asam (I put a sneeze out of myself)

I sneezed: rinne mé sraoth, chuir mé sraoth asam

I will sneeze: déanfaidh mé sraoth, chuirfidh mé sraoth asam

To sneeze: sraoth a dhéanamh, sraoth a chur asam

Sneezing (with progressive form of verb): ag déanamh sraotha, ag cur sraotha asam

Of course, all the forms of “as” can be used (asam, asat, as, aisti, asainn, asaibh, astu, e.g. She sneezed, b)


Nóta 2: For “cough,” we can also use the verb “to do,” literally “doing a cough” or “doing coughing.”  We’ve given some examples below, with some contexts.  We could also use “casachtach” and “ag déanamh casachtaí

I cough: Déanaim casacht ( lit. I do coughing) gach maidin.

I am coughing: Tá mé ag déanamh casachta anois.

I coughed: Rinne mé casacht cúpla nóiméad ó shin.

I was coughing.  Bhí mé ag déanamh casachta agus ag iarraidh a bheith ag caint ag an am céanna.

I will cough: Déanfaidh mé casacht má bhuaileann an coróinvíreas mé.

I will be coughing: Beidh mé ag déanamh casachta go dtí go dtagann biseach orm.

To cough: casacht a dhéanamh

Coughing: ag déanamh casachta

Nasc: Coronavirus Terms in Irish:  A-Z  (aisdúichiú go zónóiseach) Posted by  on Jan 31, 2020 in Irish Language

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

Leave a comment: