An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language/N

An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language  (1911)  by Alexander MacBain


n-, from, in a nuas, a nìos, Ir., O. Ir. an-; see a number 5.

na, not, ne, Ir., O. Ir. na: used with the imperative mood solely. It is an ablaut and independent form of the neg. prefix in (see ion-, an-), an ablaut of I. E. , Lat. , Gr. νη-; shorter from Lat. nĕ-, Got. ni, Eng. not (ne-á-wiht), etc.; further I. E. ṇ-, Gr. ἀν-, Lat. in-, Eng. un-, Gaelic an-. See nach, which is connected herewith as Gr. οὐκ, οὐ; the W. is nac, nag, with imperative, Br. na.

na, or, vel, Ir. , E. Ir., O. Ir. , W. neu: *nev (Stokes, who allies it to Lat. nuo, nod, Gr. νεúω, Skr. návate, go remove; but, in 1890, Bez. Beit.16 51, he refers it to the root nu, Eng. now). It can hardly be separated from neo, otherwise, q.v. Strachan agrees.

na, than, Ir. , M. Ir. iná, E. Ir. inda, indás, O. Ir. ind as, indás, pl. indate (read indáte); from the prep. in and , to be (Zeuss2, 716-7, who refers to the other prepositional comparative conjunction oldaas, from ol, de). The use of in in O. Ir. as the relative locative may also be compared.

na, what, that which, id quod, M. Ir. ina, ana, inna n-, E. Ir. ana n-; for an a, O. Ir. rel. an (really neuter of art.) and G. rel a, which see. Descent from ni or ni, without any relative, is favoured by Book of Deer, as do ni thíssad, of what would come. Possibly from both sources.

'na, 'na-, in his, in her, in (my); the prep. an with the possessive pronouns: 'nam, 'nar, 'nad (also ad, E. Ir. at, it), 'nur, 'na, 'nan.

nàbaidh, nàbuidh, a neighbour; from the Norse nà-búi, neighbour, "nigh-dweller", the same in roots as Eng. neighbour.

nach, not, that not (conj.), that not = quin (rel), noone? Ir., E. Ir. nach, W. nac, nag, not, Br. na: *nako, from na, not, which see above, and ko or k as in Gr. οὐκ against οὐ (Stokes). The ko has been usually referred to the same pronominal origin as -que in Lat. neque; it does appear in neach.

nàdur, nature, Ir. nádúr, W. natur; from Lat. natura.

naid, a lamprey (Sh., O'B.), Ir. naid:

naidheachd, news, Ir. núaidheachd, W. newyddion; from nuadh, new.

nàile, yea! an interjection:

nàird, a nàird, upwards, Ir. anáirde, E. Ir. i n-ardi, i n-airddi; prep. in (now an) into, and àirde, height: "into height". This adverb is similar in construction to a bhàn, a mach, a steach, etc., for which see a number 6.

nàire, shame, Ir. náire, E. Ir. náre: *nagro-, shameful, root nagh, be sober, Gr. νήφω (do.), Ger. nüchtern, fasting, sober.

nàisneach, modest; compare the next word.

nàistinn, care, wariness; from Norse njósn, spying, looking out, Got. niuhseini, visitation (ἐπισκοπή), Ag. S. neósan, search out.

naitheas, harm, mischief:

nall, from over, to this side, Ir., O. Ir. annall; from an (see a 5) and all of thall, q.v.

nàmhaid, an enemy, Ir. námhaid, g. namhad, O. Ir. náma, g. námat, pl.n. námait: *nâmant-, root nôm, nem, seize, take; Gr. νέμεσις, wrath, nemesis, νωμάω, νέμω, distribute; O. H. G. nâma, rapine, Ger. nehmen, take, Eng. nimble; Zend. nemanh, crime, Alb. name, a curse. Cf. W., Corn., and Br. nam, blame.

na’n (na’m), if (with false supposition), M. G. dane, da n-, da m- (D. of Lis.), Ir. da, (for da n-, eclipsing), E. Ir. dá n-, día n-, O. Ir. dian: the prep. di or de and rel. an; Manx dy. The G. form with n for d is puzzling, though its descent from da n- seems undoubted.

naoi, nine, so Ir., O. Ir. nói n-, W., Corn. naw, Br. nao: *neuṇ; Lat. novem; Gr. ἐν-νέα; Eng. nine, Ger. neun; Skr. návan.

naoidhean, an infant, so Ir., O. Ir. nóidiu, gen. nóiden: *ne-vid-, "non-witted"? Cf. for force Gr. νήπιος, infant (= νη-πιος, not-wise one), from -πιφos, wise, πινυτός (do.), root qei of ciall, q.v. So Stokes in Celt.Ph.2; now *no-vidiôn (no = ne); cf. Gr. νήπιος.

naomh, holy, Ir. naomh, E. Ir. nóem, nóeb, O. Ir. nóib: *noibo-s; O.Pers. naiba, beautiful, Pers. nîw (do.). Bez. suggests the alternative of Lettic naigs, quite beautiful.

naosga, a snipe, Ir. naosga: *snoib-sko-, root sneib, snib of Eng. snipe?

nar, negative particle of wishing: *ni-air, for not; air and .

nàsag, an empty shell:

nasg, a band, tieband, collar, Ir., E. Ir. nasc: *nasko-; O. H. G. nusca, fibula, Norse nist, brooch: *ṇdh-sko-, root ṇdh (Brug.). The verg nasg, O. Ir. -nascim, appears in Br. as naska. The root nedh is in Skr. nahyati. Others make the root negh of Lat. nexus, etc., and the root snet of snàth, q.v., has been suggested. See snaim further.

nasgaidh, gratis, free, Ir. a n-aisge, freely, aisge, a gift. See asgaidh.

natar, nitre; from Eng. natron, nitre,

nathair, a serpent, so Ir., O. Ir. nathir, W. neidr, Corn. nader, M. Br. azr: *natrîx; Lat. natrix, water snake; Got. nadrs, Norse naðr, Eng. adder. The Teutonic words are regarded by Kluge as scarcely connected with Lat. natrix, whose root is nat, swim.

-ne, emphatic participle added to the pl. of 1st pers. pron. sin-ne, ar n-athair-ne, "our father"; O. Ir. ni, -ni, used independently (= nos) and as a suffix. See further under sinne.

neach, anyone, Ir. neach, O. Ir. nech, aliquis, W., Cor., Br. nep, neb, quisquam: *neqo-, ne-qo-; Lit. nekàs, something, nekúrs, quidam, Let.. ká ne ká, anyhow. Stokes takes the ne from the negative root ne (se na); the qo is the pronominal stem of the interrogative (cf. Lat. -que, neque).

nead, a nest, Ir. nead, E. Ir. net, W. nyth, Corn. neid, Br. nez, neiz: *nizdo-s; Lat. nîdus; Eng. nest; Skr. nîdas. Supposed to be from *ni-sed-, "sit down".

nèamh, heaven, Ir. neamh, O. Ir. nem, W., Corn. nef, M. Br. neff, now env: *nemos; Skr. námas, bowing, reverence; Lat. nemus, grove; Gr. νέμος, pasture: root nem, distribute, Gr. νέμω (do.), Ger. nehmen, take. Gaulish has νεμητον or νεμετον, O. Ir. nemed, sacellum. Often, and lately (1895) by Prof. Rhys, referred to the root nebh, be cloudy, Gr. νέφος, cloud, Lat. nebula (see neul); but the Gaelic nasalized èa is distinctly against this, as also is the Br. env (Stokes).

neamhnuid, a pearl, Ir. meamhunn, M. Ir. niamnuid, pearl, E. Ir. nemanda, pearly, O. Ir. ném, onyx (for nem?); root nem of nèamh.

neanntag, nettle, Ir. neantóg, E. Ir. nenntai, nettles, nenaid. See deanntag.

neapaicin, a napkin, Ir. naipicín; from Eng.

nèarachd, happiness, usually mo nèarachd, lucky to, Ir. moigheanéar, happy is he (O'B.), is meanar duit-se, happy it is for you (O'Growney), M. Ir. mo ghenar duit, good luck to you (F.M.), mongenar (L.B.), E. Ir. mogenar. The root seems to be mag (I. E. magh), increase (see mac); cf. Lat. macte, root, mak, great.

nearag, a daughter (Oss. Ballads); if a word properly handed down, it is interesting to compare it with the root of the following.

neart, strength, Ir. neart, O. Ir. nert, W., Corn. nerth, Br. nerz, Gaul. nerto-, root ner; Skr. nár, man; Gr. ἀνήρ (root ner); Lat. Umbr. nerus, viros, Sab. Nero, fortis; Teut. Nerthus, Norse Njörðr; Lit. norėti, to will.

neas, weazel; see nios.

neasg, neasgaid, a boil, Ir. neascóid, E. Ir. nescoit: *ness-conti-, from E. Ir. ness, wound (*snit-so-, root snit, cut. Ger. schneide, S. sned), and -conti- found in urchoid? Stokes regards E. Ir. ness, wound, as from *nesko-, root neg.

neimh, poison, Ir. nimh, neimh, O. Ir. nem, pl. neimi: *nemes-, "something given", root nem-, distribute (as in nèamh)?

nèip, a turnip; from the Sc. neep, M. Eng. nēpe, from Lat. nâpus.

neo, air neo, otherwise, alioquin (conj.); see next.

neo-, un-, Ir. neamh-, neimh-, M. Ir. nem, O. Ir. neb-, neph-: *ne-bo-; the ne is the negative seen in na, ni, but the bo is doubtful. Zimmer suggests that b is what remains of the subj. of bu, be: "be not".

neòinean, neònan, the daisy, Ir. nóinin: "noon-flower", from nòin, noon. Cf. the Eng. daisy for force.

neònach, eccentric, curious: *neo-gnàthach, "unwont".

neonagan, a stye in the eye (Arg.); cf. leamhnad. Also steònagan; cf. Sc. styen.

neoni, nothing, a trifle, O. Ir. nephní; from neo- and ni, thing.

neul, nial, a cloud, Ir. neul, O. Ir. nél, pl.acc. níula, W. niwl, mist: *neblo-s; Lat. nebula; Gr. νεφέλη; Ger. nebel, mist; O.Slav. nebo, sky; Skr. nabhas, mist.

ni, not, Ir. , O. Ir. , ni, W. ni: *nei; O.Lat. nei, Lat. ni-, ; O.H.Ger. ni, Ger. nein; O.Slav. ni, neque; Zend naê; Gr. νη-. Thur. says *ne-est = *nést, Celtic níst, nìs, ni h- non-aspirating.

ni, a thing, Ir. nidh, O. Ir. , res, probably a curtailed form of O. Ir. aní, id quod, from the art.neut. and the pronominal suffix ei, which Zimmer compares to Got. ei, that (conj.), sa-ei, that-ei, which is either the locative of pronominal o- (Gr. εἰ, I. E. ei-so, this here), or the particle seen in Gr. οὑτοσ-ί (i long), an instrumental of Lat. is, Gaelic e, he. Some have regarded ni as from *gnithe, factum, which see in , will do.

, cattle; this is the same as ni, thing.

, will do, Ir. gním, I do, O. Ir. dogní, facit; see dèan, gnìomh.

niata, courageous, Ir. nia, gen. niadh, a champion, niadhas, valour, M. Ir. forniatta, brave, E. Ir. nia, g. níath, possibly Ogam neta, netta (*nêta?): *neid-, Gr. ὀνειδος, revile, Lit. náids, hatred, Skr. nind, mock, or *ni-sed-, down-setter? Rhys (Lect.) cfs. the Teut. nanþ, venture, strive; this would give Gaelic preserved d.

nic, female patronymic prefix, M.Gaelic nee (D. of L.), Ir. , M. Ir. iní, an abbreviation of O. Ir. ingen, now inghean or nighean and ui, nepotis (Stokes). The G. nic, really "grand-daughter", stands for inghean mhic or ní mhic; we have recorded in 1566 Ne Vc Kenze (M'Leod Charters).

nigh, wash, Ir. nighim, E. Ir. nigim, O. Ir. dofonuch, lavo, nesta, laveris: *ligô, I. E. neiꬶô; Gr. νίζω, νίπτω; Eng. nick, Auld Nick, a water power, Ger. nix; Skr. nij, clean.

nighean, a daughter; a corruption of inghean, q.v.

nimh, poison, Ir. nimh; see neimh.

nior, not (with perfect tense), Ir. níor, E. Ir. nír = ní-ro; ro is the sign of past tenses.

nios, neas, a weazel, Ir. neas, eas(óg), O. Ir. ness:

nìos, from below, up, Ir. aníos, E. Ir. anís; from an (see a number 5) and ìos.

nis, now, Ir. anois, M. Ir. anosa, E. Ir. innossai, O. Ir. indossa; ind (now an) of the article and G. fois, rest. The word appears in a bhos, q.v. The form indorsa, this hour (= now), is rejected by Ascoli as a misspelling for indossa.

ni 's, id quod, the usual classical Gaelic with the verb substantive to denote comparative state: tha i ni's fheàrr, she is better, Ir nios, M. Ir. ní is: "thing that is", from ni and is. The usual and true Gaelic form na 's is not a degraded form of Ir. ni 's. The G. na of na 's is simply na = id quod (see na); the Ir. is some mediæval development with , for old ana, id quod, was lost, the simple a (art.) being used now in its stead, as in O. Ir. As it was impossible to use a in the comparative construction with clearness, recourse was had to ní is. Thus Ir.: An tan do thógradh ní ba mó do dheunamh = G. An tan a thogradh e na bu mhò a dhèanamh. Hence ni 's should never have been used in Sc. Gaelic.

niùc, a corner; from the Sc. neuk, M. Eng. nōk. Dial. iùc. Skeat thinks the Eng. is the borrower.

no, or, vel, Ir. , E. Ir., O. Ir. , W. neu; see na.

nochd, to-night, Ir. anochd, O. Ir. innocht, hac nocte: the art. and nochd, night, W. henoeth, corn. neihur, Br. neyzor, nos: *nokti-; Lat. nox, noctis; Gr. νúξ, νυκτός; Got. nahts, Eng. night; Lit. naktìs; Skr. nákti.

nochd, naked, Ir. nochdadh, manifestation, O. Ir. nnocht, W. noeth, Corn. noyth, Br. noaz: *noqto-; Got. naqaþs, O. H. G. nacot, Eng. naked; further cf. Lat. nûdus (*nogvidus); Slav. nagŭ; Skr. nagná.

nodadh, a nod, suggestion; from the Eng.

nodha, new; see nuadh.

noig, the anus:

noig, old-fashioned face; noigeiseach, snuffy; noigeanach (D. Bàn):

noigean, a noggin, Ir. noigin; from the Eng. noggin. Skeat thinks the Eng. are the borrowers; but this is unlikely.

nòin, noon, Ir. nóin, g. nóna, evening, noon, E. Ir. nóin, nóna, W. nawn; from the Lat. nôna hora, ninth hour of the day, or 3 o'clock.

noir, the east, Ir. anoir, O. Ir. anair, "from before", if one looks at the morning sun; from an (see a number 5) and air.

nollaig, Christmas, Ir. nodlog, E. Ir. notlaic, W. nadolig; from Lat. natalicia, the Nativity.

norra, a wink of sleep (Arran), norradh (M'Rury):

nòs, a custom, Ir., E. Ir. nós, W. naws, M. Br. neuz: *nomzo-, Gr. νομος, law, Lat. numerus. Thurneysen thinks the Gadelic words are borrowed from the Welsh naws, from gnaws (see gnàth). Stokes gives *nomso- as stem for Gadelic alone; the W. he regards as from gnâ, as above. The ideal stem would be *nâsto-, root nâd.

nòs, a cow's first milk, E. Ir. nus; from nua, new, and ass, milk.

nòtair, a notary, Ir. nótadóir, O. Ir. notire; from Lat. notarius.

nothaist, a foolish person:

nuadarra, angry, surly; see nuarranta.

nuadh, new, Ir. núadh, O. Ir. nue, núide, W. newydd, O. Br. nouuid, Br. neuez, Gaul. novio-: *novio-s; Lat. novus, Novius; Gr. néos, young, new; Got. niujis, Eng. new; Lit. naújas; Skr. navya.

'nuair, when, "the hour that", Ir. anuair, E. Ir. innúair: the art. and word uair, q.v.

nuall, nuallan, a howling, cry, Ir. nuaill, E. Ir. núall: *nouslo-n; Skr. nu, cry, navati; Lettic nauju, cry; O. H. G. niumo, praise, rejoicing.

nuarranta, sad, surly; cf. the Ir. interjection mo nuar, my woe, root nu as above.

nuas, down, from above, Ir. anuas; see a number 5 and uas.

nuaig, as far as, O. G. gonice (B. of Deer), Ir. nuige, go nuige, E. Ir. connici: *con-do-icci; see thig, come.

nuimhir, number, so Ir.; from Lat. numerus. Usually uimhir, q.v.

'n uiridh, last year, Ir. 'nuraidh, E. Ir. innuraid; the art. and O. Ir. dat. urid. See uiridh.

null, over, to beyond; for nunn on the analogy of nall, and for dissimilation of the ns. See nunn, the only Argyllshire form.

nunn, over, beyond, Ir. anonn, O.L. inunn; from the prep. an (see a 5) and sund, here ("from here"), W. hwnt, Br. hont: (so-u-to-s), this. The pronominal forms beginning in so and to, or s and t without o, are all from the roots so and to ultimately.