nGéadal

nGéadal (Ngéadal or Ngeadal) is the Irish name of the thirteenth letter of the Ogham alphabet, ᚍ.

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
Forfeda
Éabhadh
Ór
Uilleann
Ifín [p]Peith
Eamhancholl

The Bríatharogam (kennings) for the letter are:

  • lúth lego "sustenance of a leech"
  • étiud midach "raiment of physicians"
  • tosach n-échto "beginning of slaying"

Its meaning is probably "[the act of] wounding". In Old Irish, the letter name was Gétal. It may be a verbal noun of gonid 'wounds, slays'. in which case is related to Welsh gwanu 'to pierce, to stab', which comes from the root was *gʷhen- 'to pierce, to strike'. Its original phonetic value in Primitive Irish was [ɡʷ], the voiced labiovelar. In Old Irish, this phoneme merged with g (gort), and the medieval manuscript tradition assigns it Latin ng [ŋ], hence the unetymological spelling of the letter name with initial n-.

References

  • Damian McManus, Irish letter-names and their kennings, Ériu 39 (1988), 127-168.
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