Focal an Lae #128
The Word of the Day in Irish

Word: Bealtaine (BYAHL-tih-nuh) [b′altən′ə]

Meaning: Bealtaine = May


History: Old Irish “belltaine” consists of two elements, “bel” and “tene” which together mean “bright fire”. The first element comes from Common Celtic *belo- (shining, white), which appears in second position in Old Irish “oíbell” (spark, flame, ember; Modern Irish “aoibheal”). It comes from the Indo-European root *bhel- (to shine, flash, burn; be white). For the history of the second element, please see Focal #42 (tine). English cognates of the “bel” element include “blaze”, “bleach”, “blond” and “bale”, a word meaning “bonfire, pyre” used in Northern England and Scotland.

Scottish Gaelic: Bealltainn

2008-06-19 CPD