Luis (letter)

Luis (ᚂ) is the second letter of the Ogham alphabet, derived either from luise "flame" or from lus "herb". Its Proto-Indo-European root was either *leuk- 'to shine' or *leudh- 'to grow'. Its phonetic value is [l].[1]

Aicme Beithe Aicme Muine
[b]Beith [m]Muin
[l]Luis [ɡ]Gort
[f]Fearn [ŋ]nGéadal
[s]Sail [z]Straif
[n]Nion [r]Ruis
Aicme hÚatha Aicme Ailme
[j]Uath [a]Ailm
[d]Dair [o]Onn
[t]Tinne [u]Úr
[k]Coll [e]Eadhadh
[kʷ]Ceirt [i]Iodhadh
Ifín [p]Peith

The Auraicept na n-Éces glosses the name as cairtheand "mountain-ash", i.e. "rowan" (Modern Irish caorthann). The associated verse is : Li sula "lustre of eye" The Auraincept interprets this as "delightful to the eye is luis, i.e. rowan, owing to the beauty of its berries".


In the medieval kennings, called Bríatharogam or Word Ogham the verses associated with Luis are:

lí súla - "lustre of the eye" in the Word Ogham of Morann mic Moín

carae cethrae - "friend of cattle" in the Word Ogham of Mac ind Óc

lúth cethrae - "sustenance of cattle" in the Word Ogham of Culainn.[2]


  1. McManus, Damian (1991). A Guide to Ogam. Maynooth Monographs. 4. Co. Kildare, Ireland: An Sagart. p. 36. ISBN 1-870684-75-3. ISSN 0790-8806. The kennings point to an association of this letter name with either luise/loise 'flame, blaze' or lus 'plant, herb'. The word itself is not reliably attested in a context which would indicate its precise primary meaning but it is clearly related either to the root *leuk- 'to shine' or *leudh- 'to grow', either confirming /l/ as the value.
  2. Auraicept na n-Éces Calder, George, Edinburgh, John Grant (1917), reprint Four Courts Press (1995), ISBN 1-85182-181-3

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