Six more Irish words ending in ‘-íceach/-ící’ on topics ranging from algae to spiked hair Posted by on Aug 31, 2018 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

mapa (gan daoine): (public domain); téacs Gaeilge & dearadh le Róislín, 2018

As promised last time, here are the remaining words I have been able to find that end in “-íceach.”  These are aidiachtaí cineálacha (generic adjectives), not eatnainmneacha (ethnonyms) like we saw in the previous blogpost (nasc thíos).

Just for a quick review, here are the ethnonyms from the last blogpost again but with some blanks to fill in (freagraí thíos agus sa ghrafaic):

1.. C__sta  __íceach; 2.. __éi__íceach, __i__i__héiníceach; 3.. __óit__íceach; 4.. M__saim__íceach; 5.. __ó__tó  __íceach; 6.. S__íceach (S__íceach)

And here are the general (non-ethnonym) words that also happen to end in “-íceach.”  Three of them are probably fairly recent borrowings in the language; the other three seem more traditional (íceach, píceach, spíceach).

In this blogpost we’ll be looking especially at the genitive singular feminine (gsf) forms.  You may have studied these before, but they’re often among the last grammatical features to be introduced in typical textbooks.  The gsf forms have no séimhiú at the beginning (unlike subject forms such as bean/an bhean or cearc/an chearc, with séimhiú) and they generally add a slender vowel (e or i) at the end.  A well-known example is “hata na mná bige” (the hat of the small woman), where “an bhean bheag” has completely changed to “na mná bige.”  The change from “bhean” to “mná” is because this is an irregular noun, but that particular change is not our main concern here.

We could make up many more examples, like “staidéar na seandachta clasaicí“ (the study of classical antiquity) or “longhaire na fuiseoige starraicí” (the song of the crested lark, the word “longhaire” being primarily used for “bird-song,” especially of blackbirds).  Note the “-icí” ending; the “-each” has completely dropped away.  But a thorough examination of gsf forms in general will have to wait for another blogpost.

Here are our six “-íceach” words: clóraifíceach, íceach, meitisíceach, píceach, síceach, spíceach.  And some examples in phrases:

1.. clóraifíceach, chlorophycean (pertaining to Chlorophyceae, one of the classes of green algae).  This word (which isn’t in my normal vocabulary!), would probably be mostly used in the phrase “alga clóraifíceach” (pl: algaí clóraifíceacha).  But that wouldn’t trigger our gsf form because “alga” is a masculine noun.  So with my limited biological background, I put together this phrase, giving us a gsf form.  I hope it passes muster with any bitheolaithe who might be reading this, or to be more specific, any fíceolaithe (phycologists, people who study algae).

gsf: treithí na claidistíochta clóraifící, the characteristics of the chlorophycean cladistics

2.. íceach, curative, as in íosóip íceach, hyssop (curative)

gsf: ola na híosóipe ící, the oil of the (curative) hyssop

BTW, in the several online searches I did, no plural form was listed for íosóip.  If anyone knows what it would be (presumably an “-í” ending), please advise.

BTW2, this is the word that inspired my search for other “-íceach” words – it was just so much fun to say, especially when it ended up as “ící.”

BTW3: Another plant with curative powers is “an t-aló íceach” (aloe vera).  It’s not grammatically feminine, so it has no “ící” form, but it does have the same sound in “úsáid an aló ícigh” (the use of aloe vera).  Equally fun to say.

3.. meitisíceach, metapsychic. As in “fealsúnacht mheitisíceach” (metapsychic philosophy) Also not in my daily vocab!

gsf: mistéir na fealsúnachta meitisící, the mystery of metapsychic philosophy

4.. píceach, piked, as in “muineál píceach” (a V-neck in clothing, aka V-mhuineál) or “rolladh píceach” (a piked roll in gymnastics). So far, the only examples I can find of this adjective happen to be with masculine nouns, so we won’t have a “pící” form, but will have to make do with the same sound spelled “pícigh,” to which lenition (séimhiú) will be added, making it “phícigh” [say: FEE-kee]

gsm: gearradh an mhuiníl phícigh, the cut of the V-neck

gsm: deacracht an rollta phícigh, the difficulty of the piked roll (in gymnastics)

5.. síceach, psychic, as in “litríocht shíceach” (psychic literature )

gsf: mistic na litríochta sící, the mystique of psychic literature

6.. spíceach, spiked, as in “gruaig spíceach

gsf: dath na gruaige spící, the color of the spiked hair, which, according to my observations, is usually pink, blue, or lime green.  Unless the wearer is a Goth (in the modern sense), in which case the hair is usually black for the “stíl ghotach.”  Of course, to really get into a discussion of “gruaig spíceach” we could examine the spiked hair of the ancient Celtic warriors, stiffened with lime water, but that must surely be ábhar blag eile.

So that’s the six remaining “-íceach” words, besides the eatnainmneacha, that I was able to find.

What does all this show us in the end, aside from an interesting assortment of words that rhyme at the end?  It shows us that just because words may have the same ending, they may have very diverse backgrounds in terms of etymology.  For the eatnainmneacha, the ending “-íceach” may be derived from Spanish (Rico, Rica), Punjabi (Sikh), Arabic via Portuguese (Mozambique), the Mochica language (Mochica), or ancient Phoenician (Phoenician, Syrophoenician).

For the generic adjectives, “-íceach” can come from or be related to “phyko-“ (fíci nGaeilge), psychic (síci nGaeilge), pike (píce i nGaeilge) or spike (spíce i nGaeilge), and the one that seems truly native Irish to me, “íceach” itself, related to  ”ící” (healer), “íoc” (to heal, not the lookalike word, “to pay”), íocshláinte, and the family name Ó hÍcí (Hickey, traditionally renowned for their healing powers).  But despite this wide variety of backgrounds , when it comes to making different grammatical forms, the baker’s dozen of words here go through the same changes: “-íceach” becomes “-ícigh” for nominative plural of nouns, and ”-ící” for adjectives in the genitive singular feminine.  So appearances may be deceiving (no surprise there), and even though they behave similarly in structure, these words represent an amazing variety of borrowed influence and native tradition in Irish.

Well, this has been an interesting vocabulary round-up, inspired by the “-icí” words in the previous blog (nasc thíos) and now dealing with the “-ící” and “-ícigh” words.  Hope you enjoyed it and find some application of these words, either in actual conversation (Is Cósta Rícigh iad) or in understanding the structure of genitive singular feminine forms (no séimhiú, slender ending, either “-í” as we saw here, or “-e” in some other well-known examples, like “hata na mná bige.”  Hope you enjoyed it.   SGF – Róislín

PS: Why do I feel like my next stop should be discussing Kon-Tiki? But other than possibly gaelicizing the spelling to “Con-Tící,” I’m not sure how much this would contribute.  The word comes from dia gréine an chultúir Incigh, a phrase which simply reminds us of “Incigh,” not “-ícigh”!  Or, if we’re going global, how about ” *Bhaghaighcící“?  OK, I totally made that up, but wanted to end on a fun note.  Recognize what beach that is?

Freagraí: 1.. Cósta Ríceach; 2.. Féiníceach, Sirifhéiníceach; 3.. Móitsíceach; 4.. Mósaimbíceach; 5.. Pórtó Ríceach; 6.. Suíceach (Saíceach)

Nasc: Irish Words ending with ‘-íceach’ and sometimes ‘-ícigh’ or ‘-ící’ – dosaen fada díobh Posted by  on Aug 29, 2018 in Irish Language

And the blogpost that started all this:  Four Ways the Irish Word Ending “-icí” Can Be Used (Picnicí, Eiticí, Seicí, Vicí)Posted by  on Aug 27, 2018 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


  1. Ross Davis:

    An bhfuil eolas agat faoin téarma “Ící Pící”/neantóga, a Róislín? Go raibh maith agat. Ross

    • róislín:

      @Ross Davis Is fada ó chuala mé ‘Ící Pící’ ach go raibh maith agat as é a chur i gcuimhne orm. – Róislín

Leave a comment: