On Thu, 29 Nov 2001 11:08:49 -0800, Dennis King <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>Deborah White wrote:
>> Really a name for the cold, windy weather expected at end of winter /
>> beginning of spring: 'the wolftime', 'the leavings (of winter)'.
>The second is the valid explanation, according to DIL.
Not really. DIL F 22.12 merely quotes O'Connell's early dictionary (from the
transcript in the RIA). At F 468.61f, under 'fuidlech', DIL seems to reject
O'Connell's etymology (suggesting that occurrences of 'fuighlech' are late
spellings for 'faílech', unrelated to 'fuidlech' meaning 'remnants').
Apart from anything else, the stressed vowel in fuidlech is short.
>would be a folk etymology based on the resemblance of "faol" (wolf).
On its face, it may not seem likely that 'faoilleach' is related to wolves.
The examples in DIL under 'faílech' show that the middle -ll- is usually
doubled (which it never is for words derived from 'fáel, wolf') and is
always slender (whereas in 'fáel' it is broad.)
'Faílech' (later 'faoilleach') appears to be made up of an unknown word
'faíl(l)' (later 'faoill') plus the slender adjectival ending '-ech' (later
It was no doubt the desire to find a word that ended with a slender -ll-
that led MacBain (under 'faoilleach') to suggest an etymology from 'féill'
(festival). (But that doesn't work, does it? It would not give us the
It is interesting that the Saxon word for January was apparently
'wulf-monath' (wolf-month). So I was wondering:
What if there was an early cpd 'fáel' (wolf) + 'ilach' (howling)?
Would the resulting 'fáelilach' have become 'fáillech' by syncope?
And does anyone know of a proper treatment of the names of the month in
(Scots) Gaelic (where Faoilleach means January, rather than February as it
now means in Ir.)