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Sanas Cormaic (or Sanas Chormaic, Irish for "Cormac's narrative"),[1] also known as Cormac's Glossary, is an early Irish glossary containing etymologies and explanations of over 1,400 Irish words, many of which are difficult or outdated. The shortest and earliest version of the work is ascribed to Cormac mac Cuilennáin (d. 908), king-bishop of Munster. It is an encyclopedic dictionary containing simple synonymous explanations in Irish or Latin of Irish words. In some cases, he attempts to give the etymology of the words, and in others he concentrates on an encyclopedic entry. It is held[by whom?] to be the earliest linguistic dictionary in any of the non-classical languages of Europe. Many of its entries are still frequently cited in Irish and Celtic scholarship.

Manuscripts and editions (with external links)Edit

The glossary survives, in part or whole, in at least six manuscripts.[2][3] The work may have been included in the Saltair Chaisil ("Psalter of Cashel"), a now-lost manuscript compilation that is thought to have contained various genealogical and etiological lore relating to Munster. The versions of Sanas Cormaic divide into two groups: the earliest and shortest version represented by Leabhar Breac and the fragment in MS Laud 610, and a longer one represented by the Yellow Book of Lecan, which underwent some expansion in the hands of later redactors.

Manuscripts Editions and translations
  • Stokes, Whitley (ed.). Three Irish Glossaries: Cormac's Glossary, O'Davoren's Glossary and a Glossary to the Calendar of Oengus the Culdee. London: Williams and Norgate, 1862. 1-44.
    • Edition (pp 1–44) in HTML markup available from Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae.[4]
    • PDF available from Internet Archive.[5]
  • Stokes, Whitley (ed.) and John O'Donovan (tr.). Sanas Cormaic: Cormac's Glossary. Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society. Calcutta: O.T. Cutter, 1868.
    • PDF available from Google Books.[6]
  • MS Laud 610 (Stokes’s version G) = Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Laud 610, f. 79r-84r. Fragment corresponding to YBL, 756-1224.
  • Stokes, Whitley (ed. and tr.). "On the Bodleian Fragment of Cormac's Glossary." Transactions of the Philological Society (1891–94): 149-206.
  • Yellow Book of Lecan (YBL) (Stokes’s version B) = Dublin, TCD MS 1318 (H.2.16), cols. 3-87 (= pp. 255a-283a in facsimile edition).
  • Meyer, Kuno (ed.). "Sanas Cormaic." In Anecdota from Irish Manuscripts 4 (1912): I-XIX, 1-128.
See Early Irish Glossaries.[7]
  • Book of Leinster (Stokes’s version F) = Dublin, TCD MS 1339 (H.2.18), p. 179a-b. Fragment, corresponding to YBL 1224-34 and 1268-75.
  • Best, R.I. and M.A. O’Brien (eds.). Book of Leinster. Vol. 4. Dublin, 1965. pp. 780–1.
  • Stokes, Whitley (ed.). Three Irish Glossaries. London, 1862. pp. 44–5.
  • Leabhar Ua Maine = Dublin, RIA, MS D II 1 (MS 1225), pp. 177a-184a. Beginning, corresponding to YBL nos. 1-1224.
  • Meyer, Kuno. "Cormacs Glossar nach der Handschrift des Buches der Uí Maine." Abhandlungen der Königlichen Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-hist. Klasse (1919): 290-319.
  • Thurneysen, Rudolf (ed.). "Zu Cormacs Glossar." In Festschrift Ernst Windisch. Leipzig, 1914. pp. 8–37. PDF available from Google Books US.[8]
  • ibidem.


  1. ^ It is sometimes called Sanas Chormaic using modern rules of initial consonant mutation.
  2. ^ Cormac mac Cuillenán. "Sanas Cormaic". Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
    Russell, Paul; Arbuthnot, Sharon; Moran, Pádraic. "Early Irish Glossaries Database". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  3. ^ a b c Corthals, Johan (August 2010). "MsOmit". University College Cork. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  4. ^ "Sanas Cormaic [text]". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  5. ^ "Three Irish glossaries : Cormac's glossary, codex A, (from a manuscript in the library of the Royal Irish Academy), O'Davoren's glossary (from a manuscript in the library of the British Museum) and A glossary to the calendar of Oengus the Culdec (from a manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Dublin) : Cormac, king of Cashel : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  6. ^ Cormac's glossary - Cormac (King of Cashel) - Google Boeken. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  7. ^ "Early Irish Glossaries Database". Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  8. ^ Festschrift Whitley Stokes zum siebzigsten geburtstage am 28. februar 1900 - Kuno Meyer, Ludwig Christian Stern, Rudolf Thurneysen, Ferdinand Sommer, Willy Foy, August Leskien, Karl Brugmann, Ernst Windisch - Google Boeken. Retrieved 2014-03-07.

Further readingEdit

  • Russell, Paul. "Sanas Chormaic." In Celtic Culture. An Encyclopedia, ed. J.T. Koch. p. 1559.
  • Russell, Paul. "Dúil Dromma Cetta and Cormac's Glossary." Études celtiques 32 (1996): pp. 115–42.
  • Russell, Paul. "The Sound of Silence: The Growth of Cormac's Glossary." Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 15 (1988): pp. 1–30.

External linksEdit