- Nualéargais

Note: I originally published this article on E2.

Popular Irish-English and English-Irish Dictionaries

Some of the more popular dictionaries used by students of the Irish language, translators, and native speakers include:

Foclóir Poca
This is probably the most popular dictionary used by students of Irish. It includes both an English-Irish and an Irish-English dictionary. It's very inexpensive, and the small size ("poca" means pocket) is convenient. You won't outgrow this dictionary until you're well advanced in the language. However, the print is very small, so anyone over twenty may find it difficult to read. There is a slightly larger edition, Foclóir Scoile, which uses a larger font and is much easier to read. Both Foclóir Poca and Foclóir Scoile are published by An Gúm.
Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla (Ó Dónaill)
This dictionary is popular with advanced students of Irish. This is an Irish-English dictionary; you can look up an Irish word to learn the meaning in English, but not vice-versa. The entries are far more complete than those in Foclóir Poca, and usually include several examples of common phrases and idioms using the word in question. The entry for ceann, for example, is two and one-half pages long. Another feature of this dictionary is that entries for nouns and adjectives list the plural and genitive forms; no need to refer to the front to check how m1 nouns decline, as required with other dictionaries. Similarly, entries for verbs list the verbal noun and verbal adjective forms. Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla is published by An Gúm in both paperback and hardback.
English-Irish Dictionary (De Bhaldraithe)
This dictionary is also popular with advanced students of Irish, although perhaps not quite as essential as Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla. This is an English-Irish dictionary; you can look up English words to get the Irish translation, but not vice-versa. English-Irish Dictionary is published by An Gúm in both paperback and hardback.

Tips on using an Irish dictionary

As with any language in which you are not fluent, you should be careful that the words and phrases you look up really mean what you intended. To find the Irish equivalent of an English word, look up the English word first. When you find the Irish word you think you should use, look it up. The entry for the Irish word is usually more complete, so you can double-check that you are using the word in the right context.

If you are a beginner to the Irish language, you may not yet have learned about eclipsis and lenition, or the genitive case. These tips may be helpful when looking up words.