Word of the day – ig

The Welsh word ig (plural: igion) means hiccough. The verb, to hiccough / sob, is igian, igio or igion.

When I’m singing or playing the tin whistle or other wind instruments I often get hiccoughs, and the other day I was trying to explain this to a Welsh friend in Welsh, but didn’t know the Welsh word for hiccup. So I looked it up.

The English word hiccough (also spelt hiccup) is thought to be an imitation of the sound of hiccoughs, and the Welsh word ig probably is as well.

In other languages hiccough is:
Czech: škytavka
German: Schluckauf
Dutch: hik
French: hoquet
Irish: snag
Italian: singhiozzo
Spanish: hipo

The medical terms for hiccough are synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF), or singultus, from the Latin, singult, “the act of catching one’s breath while sobbing”.

Do you have any good cures for hiccoughs?

I usually hold my breath and/or drink water.

This entry was posted in Czech, English, French, Irish, Italian, Language, Spanish, Welsh, Words and phrases.

20 Responses to Word of the day – ig

  1. anònim says:

    Catalan: singlot.

  2. Lau says:

    Finnish: nikka or hikka

  3. renato says:

    Portuguese: soluço

  4. N says:

    Drink water upside down.

  5. FM says:

    Russian: икание (verb икать)

  6. Christopher Miller says:

    That this is the Welsh word for hiccough is an amusing coincidence for a Canadian, since the leader of the Liberal party here, Michael Ignatieff, is nicknamed Iggy.

    In French, by the way, it’s le hoquet; it’s not plural. And singultus seems to have an interesting descendant in the French noun sanglot ‘sob(bing)’.

    And in Occitan, it’s sanglot [saŋˡglut].

    In other languages:

    Indonesian: cegukan, sedu (noun) and cegukan, bersedu (verb)

    Zulu: inkwingci, ithwabi or ilithwabi (noun); ukushaya ithwabi (verb; literally ‘beat a hiccough’)

    In Ojibwe, onwaawe (verb).

    And in American Sign Language, the flat hand (fingers together, bent at the base), with the index finger side in continuous contact with the Adam’s Apple, makes quick upward movements as a result of short, sudden rotations of the forearm.

  7. Christopher Miller says:


    As for a cure, I’d recommend playing strings instead.

  8. Prawo Jazdy says:

    In Polish:

    the hiccups – czkawka

    a hiccup – czknięcie

    to hiccup – czkać

    to have the hiccups – mieć czkawkę

    Pretty onomatopoeic.

  9. Yenlit says:

    So the Irish woodpecker (Gaelic: snag darach) is an ‘oak hiccough’ then?

  10. Seumas says:

    Scottish Gaelic – aileag

  11. Simon says:

    Christopher – I do play strings as well – the guitar.

    Yenlit – snag in Irish means gasp, sob, hiccough or lull, but I think the snag in snag darach and snag breac (magpie), and perhaps snagcheol (jazz), is a different snag.

    According to McBain’s Etymological Dictionary, the snag in snag darach comes from snoigh, to carve, wear down, chip, while snag in Scottish Gaelic means ‘a little audible knock’ and is related to the Irish snag, hiccough.

    snagaireachd in Scottish Gaelic means ‘cutting or hacking wood with a knife’ and comes from a dialect English word, snagger, a tool for snagging or cutting off snags (branches, knots, etc).

  12. Rauli says:

    Finnish: hikka (quite similar to the next)
    Sanskrit: हिक्का (hikkā)
    Japanese: 吃逆 though usually written in hiragana しゃっくり (shakkuri)

    I usually hold my breath and swallow (without water) as many times as possible. About 25 normally does the trick. Sometimes the treatment has to be repeated after some gasps for air.

  13. Rauli says:

    Ahh, Lau mentioned the Finnish word “nikka” earlier. I have never heard it used, but now I realized that the corresponding verb comes from that form: nikotella ‘to hiccough’. Although I think more common is to say “minulla on hikka” (I have the hiccough).

  14. Petréa Mitchell says:

    Of course any Gilbert and Sullivan fan should know that shakkuri means hiccup in Japanese. (Chorus near the end of act 1 of The Mikado, trying to drown out a crucial revelation: O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!, intended to mean “Oh no! Surprise and a hiccup!”)

    I take a deep breath and let it out very, very slowly. Usually this takes two or three tries.

  15. seon says:

    Scots Gaelic: aileag

    A bheil aileag ort? – lit. ‘Is there a hiccup on you?’.

    Aileag is also a kids’ radio program on Radio nan Gaidheal.

    Interesting blog by the way. Mar sin leat/ auf wiedersehen

  16. formiko says:

    Esperanto: singulto
    Cherokee: uwaguyasdi ᎤᏩᎫᏯᏍᏗ
    Tlingit: yadoot’

  17. Yenlit says:

    I’m sure it’s completely unrelated to the previous mention of the dialect word ‘snagger’ but in the Durham dialect of Northern England a “snagger” is a turnip.

  18. Drabkikker says:

    I always expected the ‘scare’ tactic to be a myth, but some months ago I yelled ‘BOO!’ unexpectedly at a friend with a hiccough, and it really helped.
    What’s the correct English expression, by the way: I have a hiccough? I have hiccoughs? I have the hiccough? The latter version is how we say it in Dutch (Ik heb de hik), where the definite article makes ‘hik’ a collective “illness” noun, as in ‘Ik heb de griep’ ‘I have the flu’.

  19. Cefin Gwlad says:

    > What’s the correct English expression, by the way? <

    "I've got the hiccups" is what I say (and write, though I know that "hiccoughs" also exists: I'm not sure that the spelling "hiccups" isn't, in fact, more common these daya).

  20. Of course any Gilbert and Sullivan fan should know that shakkuri means hiccup in Japanese. (Chorus near the end of act 1 of The Mikado, trying to drown out a crucial revelation: O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!, intended to mean “Oh no! Surprise and a hiccup!”)

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