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A bit about the Ogham Alphabet

The following is and introduction to the Ogham alphabet, not a difinitive work. If this information has interests you I encourage you to study furter among the wealth of information available from Ogham scholers.

The Ogham Alphabet:
Sometimes referred to as the “Celtic Tree Alphabet”, Ogham was used between the 4th and 7th centuries AD in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. The initial alphabet consisted of 20 characters with a few more complex characters being added later. The letters were formed by combinations of short lines on and at either side of a middle line called a “flesc”. With a vertical flesc words are read from bottom to top. With a horizontal flesc words are read left to right.

Although surviving traces of Ogham were inscribed on stone it was probably more commonly inscribed on sticks, stakes, and trees to mark boundaries. There is also evidence from early Irish sagas and legends that indicates Ogham was used for short inscriptions on wood or metal used to relay messages (some cryptic in nature or for magical purposes) or to denote ownership of the object. There is also evidence that suggests that Ogham may have been used to keep genealogy records, numerical tallies of property, and business transactions.

Of the 400-500 remaining inscriptions a handful have been found featuring Ogham along with the Latin alphabet, most of the inscriptions are in an archaic form of Gaelic and Pictish.


Stock Ogham Words / English with Gaelic

Balance - Meidh - Scots Gaelic - Libra
Be - Bi - Scots Gaelic - to be
Beauty - Áilleacht - Irish Gaelic - beauty
Beauty - Maise - Scots Gaelic - beauty, grace, elegance, charm
Believe - Creid - Gaelic - believe
Best Friend - Dlúthchara - Irish Gaelic - Close Friend / this is the nearest the Irish culture comes to the American concept of best friend as in the Irish culture a "best friend" would be considered family rather than a friend.
Bliss - Sonas - Scots Gaelic - bliss, ejoyment, felicity, happiness, luck, passion, success
Brother - Brathair - Scots Gaelic - brother
Courage - Cridhe - Scots Gaelic - heart, courage, epicenter, core, focus, nucleus
Create - Cruthaigh - Irish Gaelic - create
Create - Cruthaich - Scots Gaelic - create
Dream - Aisling - Irish - dream, vision / taken up as a name in the 19th century
Elder - Droman - Gaelic - dwarf, elder
Elder - Sinsear - Irish Gaelic - elder, ancestor
Eternal Love - Síorghrá - Irish Gaelic - eternal love
Faith - Creideamh - Scots Gaelic - a religion, faith, belief, or creed
Family - Geug - Scots Gaelic - a twig, branch, bough, or family
Father - Athair - Irish Gaelic - father
Fox - Sionnach - Irish Gaelic - fox
Freedom - Saoirse - Irish Gaelic - freedom, liberty
Friend - Caraid - Scots Gaelic - friend
Friendship - Càirdeas - Gaelic - friendship
Good Fortune - Piseach - Scottish Gaelic - good fortune, prosperity, success
Grace - Maise - Scots Gaelic - beauty, grace, elegance, charm
Happiness - Sonas - Scots Gaelic - bliss, enjoyment, felicity, happiness, luck, passion, success
Holy - Coisricthe - Irish Gaelic - holy
Hope - Dochas - Scots Gaelic - a hope, expectancy
Imagine - Saoil - Scots Gaelic - think, suppose, imagine, deem
Inspire - Spreag - Irish Gaelic - inspire, encourage, induce, provoke, stimulate
Joy - Aighear - Scots Gaelic - delight, joy, merriment
Love - Grá - Irish Gaelic - love
Love - Gaol - Scots Gaelic - love (Irish Gaelic - relationship, kinship, kindred feeling
Moon - Gealach - Gaelic - moon
Mother - Máthair - Gaelic - mother, the dam of any beast, source
My Love - Mo Ghrá - Irish Gaelic - my love / my beloved
My Soul Friend - Mo Anam Cara - Gaelic
Pair / Twin / Couple - Càraid - Scots Gaelic - brace, couple, pair, twin, twain, two or couple, married couple
Peace - Socair - Scots Gaelic - assuagement, comfort, rest, relaxation, tranquility, leisure, mildness, peace, ease, pillar
Permanent - Buan - Irish Gaelic - lasting permanent, long, unfailing - Scots Gaelic - lasting, durable, long
Protection - Dídean - Irish Gaelic - protection, cover, shelter, refuge, a fort
Sacred - Beannaithe - Irish Gaelic - hallowed, sacred
Serenity - Suaimhneas - Irish Gaelic - serenity, peace, joy, tranquility... peace of mind, spirit, and quietness as well
Shield - Dídean - Scots Gaelic - shield, safeguard, refuge, rampart, defense
Sister - Deirfiúr - Irish Gaelic - sister
Sister - Piuthar - Scottish Gaelic - sister
Sister - Siúr - Proto Gaelic - sister
Soul Friend - Anam Cara - Irish Gaelic - soul friend
Soul Friend - Anamchara - Irish Gaelic - soul friend
Soul - Anam - Irish Gaelic - soul
Spirit - Aigne - Scots Gaelic - disposition, psyche, mind, spirit
Strength - Neart - Scots Gaelic - energy, force, might, strength
Trust - Muinín - Irish Gaelic - confidence, reliance, faith, trust
Truth - Firinn - Scots Gaelic - truth (note: the F in Firinn is phonetically approximated with a V)
Twin / Pair / Couple - Càraid - Scots Gaelic - brace, couple, pair, twin, twain, two or couple, married couple
Unfailing Love - Grá Buan - Irish Gaelic - Gra - love / Buan - lasting permanent, long, unfailing - Scots Gaelic - lasting, durable, long
Wisdom - Gliocas - Scots Gaelic - wisdom, prudence
Wish - Miann - Scots Gaelic - appetite, craving, desire, itch, longing, wish



Last updated 5/30/12