Irish Language Blog

You Say You Want a Resolution, bhuel, tá ‘fhios ‘ad … Úúps, “Revolution” a Bhí i gCeist ag na Beatles Posted by on Jan 17, 2013 in Irish Language

(le Róislín)

Ar ndóigh, “resolution” (dea-rún) atá i gceist againne anseo.  “Réabhlóid” (revolution) a bhí i gceist ag na Beatles.  Ach oiriúnaíonn sé rithim an amhráin — sin é mo leithscéal (excuse)!

In the last blog, we discussed “dea-rúin” (resolutions), at least from “dearcadh na leipreachán” (  Let’s look now at the actual word for “resolution,” used in the sense of “dea-rún athbhliana” (a New Year’s resolution).  It’s clearly a compound word, combining “dea-” (good) and “rún” (secret, mystery, purpose, intention, love, loved one, affection, and, finally, resolution in the formal political or administrative sense).  We’ll also look briefly at the prefix “dea-” (good) and its opposite, “droch-” (bad).

As you can see, “rún” by itself could be used for “resolution” in phrases like “Molann siad rún” (They propose a resolution) or “Bíodh ina rún” (Let it be resolved, lit. Let it be a resolution).  Occasionally “rún” can mean a “secret resolution,” from which it may be generalized to “resolution,” without the implication of secrecy.   As definitions go, “rún” is probably most widely used to mean “secret” or “love,”  as in the TV show, “Ros na Rún” ( or the song “Eibhlín, a Rún” (Eileen Aroon).

We need the prefix “dea-” to really convey the meaning of “good intention,” as we would expect for a New Year’s resolution.  The opposite, “drochrún,” means an evil intention or resolution, using the prefix “droch-” (bad), which you might recall from words like “drochaimsir” (bad weather) or “drochlá gruaige” (a bad hair day).   For more on the prefix, please see:

A  key point for the word “dea-rún” is that while it does mean “resolution,”  it’s not related linguistically to the verb “to resolve.”   This is different from English, where “resolve” and  “resolution” (something resolved) are very closely related (in the same “word family”).  Here are some possible was to say “to resolve” in Irish, given with at least one additional meaning and sample, to help differentiate them:

réiteach (to resolve, to arrange, to settle, to prepare); ag réiteach an dinnéir, preparing the dinner

scaoileadh (to resolve, to release, to unfasten, to dissolve); ag scaoileadh rúin, letting out a secret; ag scaoileadh seoil, unfurling a sail

cinneadh (to resolve, to decide, to determine); ag cinneadh an dáta, determining the date

socrú (to resolve, to arrange, to become peaceful, to fix); ag socrú an lae, fixing the date/day

and finally, the word “rún” can pop up again, for phrases that mean “to resolve,” but as a noun, not as a verb, as in:

Bhí sé de rún aige sin a dhéanamh (He was resolved to do that, lit. it was of resolution at him to do that).

There are, of course, further meanings of ‘resolve,” but they are a little beyond our scope here.  Here are two, briefly described, to do them lip service.  “Taifeach” means to resolve (divide into  elements, mathematically, etc.), as in “ag taifeach sloinn ina fhachtóirí,” (resolving an expression into factors).  That’s a bit “teicniúil” for an example and not typically part of “mo chuid spruschainte,” in case you were wondering, but réasúnta úsáideach for our purposes here.  And “scaoileadh” can also mean “to resolve a discord (musically), as in “ag scaoileadh an díchorda” (resolving the discord).

So what are the take-away points for understanding the word “dea-rún“?  Here are a few:

1) Prefixes can make a major difference in the meaning of a word, not surprisingly; for examples, contrast “rún,” “dea-rún,” and “drochrún.

2) Just because a cluster of English words may be in the same “word family” (resolution, to resolve), the parallel linguistic connections don’t necessarily pertain in Irish, as we see with “rún” being etymologically unrelated to the various words for “resolve” (réiteach, scaoileadh, cinneadh, etc.).

3) If the first meaning you encounter in a dictionary doesn’t seem to suit the context where you found the word, keep reading.  In theory, “dea-rún” could mean “good secret,” “good mystery,” “good purpose,” etc., and it might sometimes do so.  But context, tradition, and typical practice tell us that “dea-rún” is most likely to mean “good intention / resolution.”

So you said you wanted a resolution (sorry, a Sheáin Uí Leannáin), sin agaibh an focal.  The actual  “cur i bhfeidhm” is up to you.  SGF, Róislín

Gluais agus Nótaí: cur i bhfeidhm [“bhfeidhm” sounds like “vime,” rhyming with “time” or “grime”], implementation; dearcadh [DJARK-uh], viewpoint; Ó Leannáin, Lennon; oiriúnaíonn [irzh-OON-ee-un], fits, suits; slonn, expression (mathematical context); spruschaint [spruss-khantch], small talk, chatter

Nóta 1:Ros na Rún” can mean either “Promontory of the Secrets” or “Promontory of the Lovers,” no doubt a deliberate pun and vaguely evocative of “Rosnaree.”  Its website is

Nóta 2:Eibhlín, a Rún” (Eileen Aroon) is a well-known Irish love song.  Here are two links, among the many that are amuigh ansin: (Maureen Hegarty) and (The Clancy Brothers)

Nóta 3: Dála an scéil, I stuck with using “The Beatles” for “The Beatles,” not too surprisingly.  I do remember hearing the term “Na Ciaróga” used for “The Beatles,” but I don’t think there’s any pressing reason to translate the name of a band.  “Ciaróg” (beetle)  is a good word to know, though, partly for the well-known seanfhocal and partly because there are so many interesting beetle names out there.  An seanfhocal clúiteach?  “Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile” (One beetle recognizes another, i.e. Birds of a feather flock together).  Na cineálacha ciarógBhuel, cá dtosóidh muid?  Smaoineamh níos fearr – ábhar blag eile! 

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