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Scottish Gaelic[edit]


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feannag f (genitive singular feannaige, plural feannagan)

  1. crow, royston, hooded crow, carrion crow, rook
    • gheibheadh tu na feannagan-firich, you would find the forest crows (said to persons who boast of doing impracticable things)
  2. (agriculture) lazy-bed (for planting), rig, a ridge of ground generally used for growing potatoes and sometimes also for raising corn, the seed being laid on the surface and covered with earth dug out of trenches along both sides
    • Arsa an seòladair ann a' chrannaig - “Tha e ro mhór do fheannaig agus ro bheag do fhearainn”. Quoth the sailor in the cross-trees - “It is too much for a rig and too little for a lot”. This sentence is translated in Campbell's West Highland Tales “It is too big for a crow and too little for land.” Gaelic Names of Beasts by Alex Forbes gives a modern application of this saying from personal experience, which make the meaning clearer and as he narrowly escaped with his life on the occasion, the word and their application are indelibly fixed in his memory. When out fishing in the Sound of Sleat in his youth and overtaken by a storm, an old fisherman who was at the helm told the boys who were rowing to keep a sharp lookout for land, as the evening twilight was fast failing. One of the latter suddenly cried out “Chì mi feannagan a Néill! Tha sinn faisg air a' Chill bhig.” After taking a deliberate survey (no easy matter in the circumstances), Niall replied “Chan eil fhios 'am an e, 'illean, tha e ro mhór de dh'fheannag agus ro bheag do dh'fhearran ach dh'fhaodadh gur e an t-eilean mór a th' ann,” (I don't know, boys, it seems too big for a rig and too small for the land but perhaps it's the large island.) - which it was.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The term “lazy-bed” applied to it in English is merely a southern odium on the system of farming in Gaeldom, where soil was scarce and where bog-land could not be cultivated in any other way.


  • Faclair Gàidhlig Dwelly Air Loidhne, Dwelly, Edward (1911), Faclair Gàidhlig gu Beurla le Dealbhan/The Illustrated [Scottish] Gaelic-English Dictionary (10th ed.), Edinburgh: Birlinn Limited, →ISBN
  • A Pronouncing and Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language (John Grant, Edinburgh, 1925, Compiled by Malcolm MacLennan)