Mouth to mouth with the night

I discovered an interesting idiom in Scottish Gaelic today: beul ri beul na h-oidhche, which means near nightfall, or literally “mouth to mouth with the night”. Are there interesting expressions in other languages for different times of the day?

The word beul /bial̪ˠ/ means mouth; beginning; opening; edge; gunwale, and in found in such expressions as:

  • beul an latha = daybreak
  • beul na h-oidhche = nightfall, dusk
  • eadar beul-oidhche is beul-latha = from dusk till dawn
  • beul-aithris = folklore, oral tradition
  • am beul a’ bhaile = on everyone’s lips (“in the mouth of the town”)
  • beul air gualainn = blabbermouth, without reticence, not to hold back (“mouth on shoulder”)
  • beul fo bhonn = upside down (“mouth under sole”)
  • beul gun phutan = chatterbox, blabbermouth, unable to keep a secret (“a mouth without a button”)
  • port á beul = lilting, mouth music

Source: Am Faclair Beag

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This entry was posted in English, Language, Scottish Gaelic, Words and phrases.

5 Responses to Mouth to mouth with the night

  1. Sandra says:

    In French, there are two expressions that I love to refer to dusk: “entre chien et loup” (= between dog and wolf, presumably the time when you can’t clearly distinguish between a dog and its wild cousin) and “l’heure bleue” (= the blue hour).
    Also, to say “early morning”, you can use “dès potron minet” which means in old French “as soon as the cat’s bottom”, ie as soon as you can see a cat out and about.

  2. TJ says:

    In one of Enya’s song, unfortunately can’t remember which, there is a line that says an ghrian san ghealach, which with my humble knowledge in Irish translates as the sun in the moon. However, after looking up a translation for the whole song it turned out to be an idiom for “every day” or “day by day”.

  3. Well I must say that you discovered an amazing idiom. There are a lot of such idioms also available in Urdu literature and I would recommend you to see some of them.

  4. Diane says:

    I have seen “mouth to mouth with the night” illustrated in early medieval texts that were influenced by Celtic languages.

    The design usually shows a male and a female face in profile, within an oval or circle that marks the orientation-point. I haven’t checked, but the position of male and female may reverse to indicate west (sunset) or east (dawn).

  5. Sandra says:

    “In French, there are two expressions that I love to refer to dusk: “entre chien et loup” (= between dog and wolf, presumably the time when you can’t clearly distinguish between a dog and its wild cousin) and “l’heure bleue” (= the blue hour).”
    I just thought of another one for “at dusk” in French: “à la brune” (= at the brown [hour]).