Irish Language Blog

Seven words for ‘ball’ in Irish, including “football” (soccer ball) Posted by on Jun 28, 2014 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Irish has one basic word for “ball” for most sports, “liathróid,” and another word, “sliotar,” which is specifically for a hurling ball.  Let’s take a look at these, and then as space permits, we’ll look at other related phrases (snowball, meatball, etc.)

Liathróid” [LEE-uh-HROHDJ] is a feminine noun, with the following forms:

an liathróid, the ball (peil, sacar, liathróid láimhe, srl.)

liathróide, of a ball, as in “giolla liathróide” (ball boy or ball girl, in tennis, lit. a “ball lad”)

na liathróide, of the ball, as in “conair na liathróide” (ball flight path, in table tennis)

liathróidí, balls

na liathróidí, the balls, OR of the balls

Here are a few types of balls for specific sports.  Can you guess them?

A1) liathróid chispheile

A2) liathróid eitpheile

A3) liathróid ghailf

A4) liathróid leadóige

A5) liathróid rugbaí

So that’s the “liathróid.”  And then there’s the “sliotar” [SHLIT-ur] the small hard ball specifically for hurling and camogie.  Here are some of its forms:

an sliotar, the hurling ball.  This word is grammatically masculine.

an tsliotair [un TLIT-irzh], of the hurling ball

na sliotair [nuh SHLIT-irzh], the hurling balls

na sliotar [nuh SHLIT-ur], of the hurling balls

Now here’s a little mystery, and perhaps some reader can answer it:

The term “sliotar róin bó” means “cow-hair ball.”  The component words are clear enough, “sliotar” + “rón” (usually horse-hair, but here more general; “róin” = of horse-hair, etc.) + (cow, of a cow).  So, is this the type of hairball, apparently found in the stomachs of cows (as in: at the Finney County Historical Museum in Garden City, KS) or is it a sports ball made from cow hair?   And does that mean the hair of a cow’s tail?  Otherwise, wouldn’t we be talking about “hide”?  And isn’t a cow’s tail more hide than hair anyway, compared to a horse’s tail, which, I guess, is almost all hair?

Well, that’s one mystery, and here’s a little more practice using the word “ball” in various contexts in Irish.  Can you guess these?

B1) bolgán béice

B2) caor ordanáis

B3) ceirtlín chorda

B4) ceirtlín snátha

B5) iascmheall

B6) liathróidí leamhan

B7) liathróid shneachta (also “meall sneachta” and “cnapán sneachta”)

B8) liathróid chriostail (aka “liathróid feasa”)

B9) meall súile

B10) millín feola (also “feoilmheall)

Cad a dhéanann an ghráinneog di féin: liathróid, sliotar, bolgán, caor, meall, millín nó ceirtlín?  De réir scéal 'Eilís i dTír na nIontas' nó sa saol mar atá?  Freagra sa téacs!

Cad a dhéanann an ghráinneog di féin: liathróid, sliotar, bolgán, caor, meall, millín nó ceirtlín? De réir scéal ‘Eilís i dTír na nIontas’ nó sa saol mar atá? Freagra sa téacs!

And finally, at least according to traditional usage, which of these words would we use for a gráinneog (hedgehog) that has curled itself into a ball: liathróid, sliotar, caor, bolgán, meall, millín or  ceirtlínFreagra thíos, cuid C.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this workout.  I had a “ball” putting it together.  Couldn’t resist that one! – SGF – Róislín


Cuid A:

1) liathróid chispheile [… HISH-FEL-yuh], basketball

2) liathróid eitpheile [… ETCH-FEL-yuh], volleyball

3) liathróid ghailf, golf ball [remember, the “gh” is the ‘throaty’ voiced velar fricative sound, as described in previous blogs for saying “Mo ghrá thú” (I love you) or “Dia dhuit, a Ghráinne” (Hello, Gráinne)

4) liathróid leadóige [… LAD-oh-ig-yuh], tennis ball

5) liathróid rugbaí, rugby ball

Cuid B:

B1) bolgán béice, a puff-ball

B2) caor ordanáis, a cannon-ball

B3) ceirtlín chorda, a ball of string.  Note: the word “ceirtlín” can vary in gender, according to dialect, and this may affect the form of the word following it.

B4) ceirtlín snátha, a ball of thread or yarn

B5) iascmheall, a fish-ball

B6) liathróidí leamhan, mothballs

B7) liathróid shneachta (also “meall sneachta” and “cnapán sneachta“), a snowball

B8) liathróid chriostail (aka “liathróid feasa“), a crystal ball

B9) meall súile, eyeball

B10) millín feola (also “feoilmheall“), meatball

Cuid C:

Déanann an ghráinneog ceirtlín di féin.  The hedgehog curls itself into a ball (ceirtlín).


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