Useful Gaelic word: clò

Clò Mòr <em>Picture: PKM</em>
Clò Mòr Picture: PKM
clò – cloth/material/print

Listen to the pronunciation guide

Clò means cloth, in particular heavy kinds of cloth such as tweed. The standard Gaelic for Harris Tweed is Clò Mòr, literally “big cloth” or “great cloth”. Clò Hearach, which literally means the Harris Cloth is also used for Harris Tweed.

Older books might refer to Clò Mòr as Clò Mór. Gaelic nouns have gender and clò is a masculine noun. Therefore Clò Mòr and not Clò Mhòr, and certainly not Clò Mohr. Nowadays, clò is used almost as a synonym for Clò Mòr.

Those who are into Doctor Who will no doubt know that one of his incarnations has recently been sporting a Harris Tweed jacket. This has given some hope to an industry which is reviving but which is substantially smaller than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Clò also means “printing” or “publish” in Gaelic. The Gaelic phrase for “to print” or “to publish” is cuir ann an clò, which literally means “put into print”.

Clò as in cloth and clò as in printing are not related words, despite their appearance. Clò meaning “printing” used to be spelt clòdh, and the silent letters at the end have simply been lost. The Gaelic verb meaning “printing” is clò-bhual, which literally means “type-hit”, with hit as in strike a blow.

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