Irish Language Blog

More Meanings of the Irish Prefix ‘Leas-‘  (from ‘step-‘ to ‘vice,’ etc.) Posted by on Nov 6, 2016 in Irish Language

dearadh 'wordcloud' le Róislín, 2016

dearadh ‘wordcloud’ le Róislín, 2016

(le Róislín)

Recently we’ve looked at a lot of Irish terms using the prefix “leas-” to say “stepmother,” “stepfather,” “stepgrandmother,” “stepgrandfather,” etc.  In this blogpost, we’ll look at some of the other uses of the prefix “leas-.”

First though, let’s review some “step-” terms for gaolta teaghlaigh (family relationships).  The translations are given below:

  1. leasathair      2. leas-seanathair      3. leasdeirfiúr    4. leasmháthair     5. leasdeartháir      6. leas-seanmháthair      7. leasmhamó (that’s the one for which I only found 2 examples online, neither of which were in dictionaries or textbooks, just in general online chat)

The only reason that “leasmhac” and “leasiníon” aren’t in there as review is that they’ll be getting a blogpost of their own soon.  But, based on “mac” and “iníon,” you’ve probably already figured out what they are.

As a follow-up to uimhir a seacht, let me also note that I didn’t find any examples online for “leas-” + any of the typical words for “grandpa” (as opposed to “grandfather”), that is, “Daideo,” “Dadó,” or “Deaideo.”  Of those, btw, “Daideo” is by far the most common, i mo thaithí féin.

Also, Irish, of course, has several spellings for “brother” and “sister,” so we could also apply the prefix to variations like “driofúr” and “driotháir.”

Now let’s look at “leas-” outside of family relationships.  Can you figure out how these words would typically be translated?  Freagraí sa nóta thíos:

  1. leasainm
  2. leasuachtarán
  3. leaschodán
  4. leasrúnaí
  5. leaschonsal
  6. leas-ardeaglais
  7. leas-seansailéir
  8. leasrí
  9. leas-ionadaí (which is like a ” *leas-leas-rí,” not that that reduplicative term is used as such, fad m’eolais)

And, taking us back to family relationships again, one which I’ve mostly only seen in the older spelling, where “leas-” changes to “leis-” for vowel harmony:

  1. leis-chliamhain: In theory this could also be “leasmhac céile,” but I can’t say that I’ve seen that term very often either. Nor have I seen “leasbhanchliamhain” online anywhere or in other source that I can recall.  Presumably that also could be “leasiníon chéile.”

An féidir leat smaoineamh ar shampla ar bith eile?  If so, please do write in and let us know.

By the way, there’s a sympathetic and thought-provoking but disturbing article about one more aspect of the “step-” relationship that I stumbled upon while researching this blog.  You might find it of interest, although there’s no specific Irish language connection.  Nasc thíos.

And just for fun, here’s a term which looks like it belongs to the “leas-” family, but doesn’t:

leasaitheoir bagúin

… which means <drumroll> … a bacon curer.

This “leas” is a core element of the word “leasaitheoir” (curer, preserver, etc.), not the “step-” prefix “leas-.”

– SGF – Róislín

Nasc:  (In case you’re wondering how you would say “stepmonster” in Irish, if you had to (I’ve never seen it!): there are several  Irish words for monster, including “arracht” and “ollphéist.”  In theory, one could say ” *leasarracht” or ” *leasollphéist” but there wouldn’t be the same element of ‘imeartas focal.’ ).


  1. leasainm, nickname
  2. leasuachtarán, vice-president
  3. leaschodán , improper fraction
  4. leasrúnaí, deputy secretary
  5. leaschonsal, vice-consul
  6. leas-ardeaglais, pro-cathedral
  7. leas-seansailéir, vice-chancellor
  8. leasrí, regent or viceroy
  9. leas-ionadaí, vice-regent (since we don’t say “vice-viceroy,” fad m’eolais)
  10. leis-chliamhain, stepson-in-law.
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