O’Mulconry’s glossary

  • Early Irish, Early Modern Irish
  • Irish glossaries, Glossary
Earliest extant Irish glossary.
O’Mulconry’s glossary
The title O’Mulconry’s glossary was coined by Eugene O’Curry, who named it after Seán Ó Maoil Chonaire using the anglicised form of his name, John O’Mulconry (fl. 16th century). Although the work is too early to be attributed to him, Stokes adopted this suggestion when he came to edit the text(1)n. 1 Whitley Stokes, ‘O'Mulconry's glossary’, Archiv für celtische Lexikographie 1 (1900): 232. and the title has remained in common use ever since. The glossary is also referred to as Descriptio de origine Scoticae linguae, from the opening words of the introduction, although this title is sometimes reserved for the original stratum of the text only.
First words (prose)
  • Incipit discreptio de origine Scoticae linguae quam congregauerunt religiosi uiri
cols 88–122
881 entries, A-T.
pp. 41–42 ~ 118–119
Fragment of entries E-G.
pp. 102(178)–104(180)
Fragment of entries A–C.
pp. 41–42
Fragment A only, possibly deriving from the copy in YBL.
  • Early Irish Early Modern Irish
  • Secondary language(s): Latin language
The earliest stratum of the text may date back to the second half of the 7th or first half of the 8th century (Mac Neill). Whitley Stokes dates certain late features of the text to the 13th or 14th century.
Textual relationships
Related: IrsanIrsan

Medieval Irish glossary (A–S) related to O’Mulconry’s glossary.

Baeth buideBaeth buideOne of the rhymeless ‘Leinster poems’.


Irish glossariesIrish glossaries




Whitley Stokes, ‘O'Mulconry's glossary’, Archiv für celtische Lexikographie 1 (1900): 232.

Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Moran, Pádraic, De origine Scoticae linguae (O’Mulconry’s glossary): an early Irish linguistic tract, edited with a related glossary, Irsan, Lexica Latina Medii Aevi, 7, Turnhout: Brepols, 2019.  

De origine Scoticae linguae (also known as O’Mulconry’s glossary) is a text originating in seventh-century Ireland that provides etymologies for c. 880 Irish words, mostly drawn from Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Its Latin prologue declares its affiliation to the Graeco-Roman linguistic tradition, claiming an origin for the Irish language in the Greek dialects Attic, Doric and Aeolic. The glossary attests to the transmission and reception of the Latin grammatical tradition in Ireland and shines light in particular on the Irish knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. The text also represents a milestone in the history of European linguistics, as the earliest etymological study of a European vernacular language.

The glossary was published once before, by Whitley Stokes in 1898. This new edition provides the first translation and textual commentary, clarifying the sense of difficult entries and discussing sources. The introduction analyses the structure and contents, origins and development, linguistic issues, and relationships to other texts. The text is edited here along with a shorter related glossary of 232 entries, entitled Irsan, which includes shared material and sheds further light on its development.

[ed.] Stokes, Whitley, “O'Mulconry's glossary”, Archiv für celtische Lexikographie 1 (1900): 232–324, 473–481.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
[corr.] Stokes, Whitley, “Suum cuique”, Archiv für celtische Lexikographie 1 (1900): 629.  

Note to Stokes 1900 (linked below), p. 280.

Internet Archive: <link>
[dipl. ed.] Russell, Paul, Sharon Arbuthnot, and Pádraic Moran, Early Irish glossaries database, Online: Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge, 2010–. URL: <http://www.asnc.cam.ac.uk/irishglossaries>.
Diplomatic edition of all four manuscript copies. direct link
Translation wanted

Secondary sources (select)

Mac Neill, Eoin, “‘De origine Scoticae linguae’”, Ériu 11 (1932): 112–129.
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
October 2011, last updated: June 2023