Glen Coe, Highlands, Scotland

Glen Coe, Highlands, Scotland

Scottish Gaelic and Botany

Scottish Gaelic is spoken by about 87,000 people in Scotland (Alba), mainly in the Highlands (a’ Ghaidhealtachd) and in the Western Isles (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), but also in Glasgow (Glaschu), Edinburgh (Dùn Eideann) and Inverness (Inbhir Nis). There are also small Gaelic-speaking communities in Canada, particularly in Nova Scotia (Alba Nuadh) and on Cape Breton Island (Eilean Cheap Breatainn). The gàidhlig language has a rich connection with nature where even the alphabet and its letters are named after pagan words for local trees.  This series of posts will begin to look at some of the history, natural lore and pronunciation of gàidhlig words in relation to the alphabet and to botany.


luibh – herb, plant or weed (lou-eve)

eòlas – knowledge or science (eh-yo-less)

luibh-eòlas (louv-eh-yo-less)


In science, any of the “ologies” (biology, ecology, ornithology, etc …) will have eòlas as its suffix. Here are a few examples that the wayward naturalist may have use of:

bith-eòlas – biology (bee-eh-yo-less)

luibh-eòlas – botany (louv-eh-yo-less)

cruinn-eòlas – geography (kreen-eh-yo-less)

reul-eòlas – astronomy (rail- …)

eag-eòlas – ecology (egg- …)

eun-eòlas – ornithology (ee-at- …)

àrc-eòlas – archaeology (ark- …)

mial-eòlas – zoology (me-al- …)

creag-eòlas – geology (creagk- …)

Note the inflection when it comes to marine science: eòlas-mara ( … madde)


A person that is an expert, or someone who has knowledge in a specific field of study is an eòlaiche (eh-yo-lee-hea).

bith-eòlaiche – biologist (bee-eh-yo-lee-hea)

lus-eòlaiche or luibh-eòlaiche – botanist (luss-eh-yo-lee-hea)

reul-eòlaiche – astronomer (rail-eh-yo-lee-hea)

eìc-eòlaiche – ecologist (eggkeh-eh-yo-lee-hea)

eun-eòlaiche – ornithology (ee-at-eh-yo-lee-hea)

àrc-eòlaiche – archaeology (ark-eh-yo-lee-hea)

ainmh-eòlaiche – zoology (ann-eve-eh-yo-lee-hea)

creag-eòlaiche – geologist (creagk-eh-yo-lee-hea)


And the adjectives, or topics relating to these sciences:

bith-eòlasach – biological (bee-eh-yo-lee-sakh)

luibh-eòlasach – botanic(al) (luss-eh-yo-lee-sakh)

reul-eòlasach – astronomical (rail-eh-yo-lee-sakh)

eag-eòlasach – ecological (egg-eh-yo-lee-sakh)

creag-eòlasach – geological (creagk-eh-yo-lee-sakh

cruinn-eòlasach – geographic(al) (kreen-eh-yo-lee-sakh)


A person which studies luibh-eòlas will study luibheanach (plants/weeds) and would be called luibh-eòlaiche (m/f) or lus-eòlaiche (m) (botanist). pl. luibh-eòlaichean.


I work at a botanical garden.

gàrradh nan lusan 

I study botany.


I am a botanist (feminine)


I work at Royal Botanical Gardens Canada.

Gàrradh Luibheanach Rìoghail na Canada


Other forms that the term botanist could be used to describe a person include:

lusragan – herbalist/apothecarist, botanist, florist

lusragaire or luibh-lighiche – a herbalist (knowledge of healing with plants)

lusair(e) – vegetarian (alt. glasraichear)


An excellent place to start with pronunciation is Learn Gaelic.net.



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