Focal an Lae #16
The Word of the Day in Irish

Word: file (FILL-uh)

Meaning: file = poet

Usage: File is today the most common word for a poet. The craft and product of a “file” is “filíocht” (FILL-ee-uhxt), poetry. The word comes from an old verb root meaning “see” and in earlier days the poet also functioned as a “seer” or prophet.

History: Old Irish “fili” derives from Archaic Irish (ca. 500 AD) *welís. An Ogam inscription from this period contains the word VELITAS, apparently a genitive singular form (= “of (a) poet”) corresponding to Old Irish “filed”. McCone derives the word from the Insular Celtic verbal root *wel-. Compare Welsh “gweld” (to see). The words “fuil”, “bhfuil” and “níl”, long firmly established as forms of the verb “to be”, are related. They originally had the imperative meaning “see!, look at!”, and in Old Irish were still followed by the accusative case.

Scottish Gaelic: Filidh (FEE-lee), although “bàrd” is the more commonword for poet

2008-06-19 CPD