Irish Language Blog

Speaking of Spuds: Sceallóga (Prátaí) and Sceallóga Eile (Irish Words for Chips, Potato and Otherwise) Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

We recently (nasc thíos) looked at several ways of cooking of potatoes (prátaí) and now we’ll check a few types specifically of sceallóga prátaí (chips, or in the US, French fries).  In the illustration above we can see four types, and one solitary bit of a chip that a bird made off with as loot (creach).

First let’s look a bit at the word for “chip/chips” itself, including a few words for non-potato chips, just for thoroughness, then we’ll look at the terms for the types of potato dishes seen above.

“Sceallóg” on its own means “thin slice” or “chip” in general, and is based on the word “sceall,” which also means “chip” or “thin slice,” and also “flake,” “shale,” or “wedge cut out of something.” So, to some extent, “sceall” and “sceallóg” have overlapping meanings, even though one has a suffix.

Here are some other forms of the word — there’s not that much variation:

an sceallóg, the chip, for the rare times we’re just talking about one

na sceallóige, of the chip (blas na sceallóige)

na sceallóga, the chips

na sceallóg, of the chips (blas na sceallóg)

Note that the possessive plural ending is the same as the basic form (-óg).  We also see this in “siopa sceallóg” (a chip shop, lit. house of chips, a chipper)

Here are a couple words used for other types of chips: “slis” and “sceamhóg,”

Slis” can mean “chip” but seems to have more the sense of a “slice,” “shaving,” or “sliver” (sliseanna plána, shavings from the plane, i.e. wood-shavings) and is also used for most phrases involving microchips (micrishlis, pl: micrishliseanna, srl.).  Speaking of “slices” in the context of food,  it looks like there are at least a dozen possible words, including variations (canda/canta, ceapaire, gríscín, píosa, sceamhóg, scine, sliseog, slisín, slisne, stiall/stiallóg).  We’ll look more at these in a future blog, but, meanwhile, if you’re wondering about “ceapaire” (usually translated as “sandwich” these days), it originally meant a buttered slice of bread.

Sceamhóg” can also mean “chip” but is typically used with rust  or paint, where it has more the sense of “flake,” or with bread, where it joins the others in the list above to mean “slice”(sceamhóg mheirge, sceamhóg phéinte, sceamhóg aráin).

So that’s “chip” and company, and now let’s get back to sceallóga and the tasty, tempting, hot and greasy chips/fries depicted in the graphic.  So we have the following:

sceallóga catacha, curly fries; one would be a “sceallóg chatach.”

sceallóga oighinn, oven-ready chips (aka oven chips).  One would be a “sceallóg oighinn.”

poutine, well, that’s Quebecois French and there’s no actual Irish for it but we can describe what the dish consists of: sceallóga prátaí, gruthanna cáise (cheese curds) agus súlach donn (brown gravy).  An-bhlasta ach cé mhéad calra?  Ar ith tú riamh é?

Finally, I simply used the word “gnáthsceallóga” to indicate ordinary chips/fries, with no embellishments or gourmet touches.  Just “te” (hot) and “gréisceach” (greasy).  Is maith liom le braichfhínéagar iad ach ní ithim go minic iad.

Here are a couple other ways to describe chips/fries.

sceallóga baile, home-made chips

sceallóga curaithe le cáis, curry-and-cheese chips or simply “curry cheese chips” (lit. curried chips with cheese), which I’ve never observed being served in North America.   Ar ith duine ar bith i Meiriceá Thuaidh iad?

OMG, I just noticed, Supermac’s brand has its own Facebook page (

And since I couldn’t resist checking further, there’s at least one place in North America you can get them, according to this léirmheas (review):, and naturally, it looks like it must be one of the major Irish venues in America:, established in 1991.

And, of course, you can buy:

sceallóga reoite, frozen chips/fries

Bhuel, sin é do na sceallóga, is dócha.  Next thing you know, I’ll find some excuse for talking about “a chip off the old block.”  In fact, no time like the present, so the overview, at least, is either the fairly literal “slisne den seanmhaide” (lit. a chip of the old stick), but the equivalent I prefer is “Cuid den mhuc an t-eireaball” (lit. The tail is a part of the pig).  So from curly fries (sceallóga catacha) to pigs’ tails, which are naturally catach (curly), we’ve covered some interesting territory.  I hope you found it suimiúil (interesting) and fóinteach (helpful).  SGF — Róislín 

nasc: Not just ‘bruite’ — some Irish terms for preparing potatoesPosted by on May 6, 2017 in Irish Language

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