About the Peadar Ó Laoghaire Idiom Collection

1. General information

The collection of idioms presented in this database is the result of PhD research undertaken by Katie Ní Loingsigh in Fiontar, Dublin City University. The database contains idioms from the published work of an tAthair Peadar Ó Laoghaire/Canon Peter O’Leary. There are 420 idioms recorded in their baseform in the database and more than 1,000 contextual usage examples from a corpus of Ó Laoghaire’s published work. An idiom is defined as a type of phraseme which has a figurative meaning in terms of its whole, or a unitary meaning that cannot be derived from the meanings of its individual components.

How to perform a search

This collection can be searched by entering a word or a phrase into the search field or by selecting one of the randomly suggested words located directly under the search field.

Idiom list

The entire list of idioms can be browsed alphabetically in this section. Idioms can be searched for by selecting the first letter in the idiom. Furthermore, idioms can be browsed according to their respective semantic classes. A summary of each of the individual semantic classes is provided below.

  • Pure idiom: Pure idioms are non-compositional and have a unitary meaning which cannot be understood from the meaning of the idiom's individual components.
  • Figurative idiom: Figurative idioms are also non-compositional but the underlying meaning of the idiom can be understood from the meaning of its individual components due to an underlying figurative sense.
  • Semi-idiom: Semi-idioms contain both a literal and figurative component.
  • Non-word idiom: There are a certain number of idioms that contain non-words which only occur in certain phraseological constructions.

Corpus sources

A corpus of Ó Laoghaire’s published work was compiled and searched as part of this research project. The Royal Irish Academy provided the researcher with the majority of the texts in digital format used to compile the corpus. The remaining texts were transcribed to ensure a complete corpus of Ó Laoghaire’s published work was used to search for idioms. The title, author, publisher and year of publication of each source are recorded in the database.

Additional sources

A number of additional lexicographical sources, both published and unpublished, were used to help clarify the meaning of the collected idioms. The title, author and/or editor of each source, along with the year of composition or publication, are recorded in the database.

2. Structure of idiom entry

Baseform: Each idiom consists of a baseform or canonical form. Due to the dialectal nature of this study, each idiom is recorded in its baseform in standard orthography, as established by An Caighdeán Oifigiúil. However, a small number of entries contain some non-standard components. These exceptions to the general rule were included when strong evidence from the corpus or from Irish-language informants in Múscraí suggested that the idioms collected contained certain fossilized components.

Headword: In each idiom the primary nouns, adjectives and adverbs, in singular form, along with the infinitive form of each verb are recorded. The headwords are listed alphabetically.

Description: Each idiom is paraphrased and explained in clear and concise language. These explanations are based on information found in various lexicographic works, in specific dialectal resources and from fieldwork with Irish-language informants in Múscraí. In instances of disparity of meaning, priority was given to explanations found in Ó Laoghaire’s work, dialectal lexicographic sources and feedback obtained from Irish-language informants in Múscraí.

Corpus example: Up to three contextual examples of each idiom from the corpus are recorded in the database which reflect the most frequent form and use of the idiom. Each contextual example was transcribed directly from the source text and recorded in non-standardized form. The title of each corpus source is recorded along with the relevant page number.

Usage: Certain idioms contain usage notes which help clarify typical usage and/or origin of an idiom.

Cross-references: Cross-references to memyomic idioms were selected for certain idioms. This option allows the user to connect idioms with a similar meaning together.

Additional example: Any additional information in relation to an idiom’s meaning is recorded as an additional example. This includes information from both published and unpublished lexicographic works, specific dialectal resources, lexicographic manuscripts, private notes and correspondence. The examples recorded were directly transcribed from the relevant sources and all punctuation marks, capital letters, etc. were recorded directly as they appear in the relevant source. The title of each additional example, as well as the relevant headword or page number, are recorded in the database.

Additional information: Any additional information received from the dialectal informants in Múscraí was recorded and directly transcribed and recorded in the database.

3. Further information

Further information in relation to the compilation and internal structure of the database can be found here.

We would like to thank the following people and organizations for their assistance: Royal Irish Academy, Foras na Gaeilge, Sketch Engine, Professor Kevin Scannell (Saint Louis University), Dr Elaine Uí Dhonnchadha (Trinity College Dublin), Michal Boleslav Měchura (Masaryk University), Ronan Doherty, Domhnall Ó Loingsigh, Dónal Mac Suibhne, Dónal Ó hÉalaithe, Donnchadh Ó Luasaigh, Liam Ó hÉigeartaigh, Máiréad Uí Lionáird, Peadar Ó Ceallaigh, Tómas Breathnach, Dr Brian Ó Raghallaigh (Dublin City University) and Dr Caoilfhionn Nic Pháidín (Dublin City University).

All feedback is greatly appreciated and Gaois staff can be contacted at


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