'Sliabh in Irish place-names' in Nomina 32 (2009)

Paul Tempan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article deals with one of the most common elements in names of Irish hills and mountains. The grammar, phonology, etymology, semantic range and chronology of the element are examined. Sliabh is particularly complex in terms of its semantic range, which includes the following senses: 1) a mountain or hill (standing alone or forming part of a range); 2) a range of hills or mountains; 3) an moor or area of upland. The word is present in the earliest attested stages of the Irish language, and there is some evidence for all three meanings in Old Irish, though senses 1 and 2 are best attested. It is suggested that the view advanced by MacBain and Thurneysen that sliabh is etymologically related to Eng. slope and that this reflects its original meaning is open to some doubt in view of the lack of evidence for this sense in early Irish and the lack of clear cognates in other branches of Celtic and Indo-European languages.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-41
    Number of pages23
    JournalNomina.Journal of the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • sliabh Irish place-names mountain toponymy


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