Transwiki:List of English words of Irish origin


This is a list of English language words from the Celtic Irish language. For English words which originated in Ireland from other sources see Hiberno-English.

Dictionary abbreviations:

  • AHD: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, hosted at Bartleby.com
  • M-W: Meriam-Webster, hosted at webster.com
  • OED: The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (7th ed. 1982)
  • RH: Random House Unabridged Dictionary, hosted at Dictionary.com

English words from the Irish languageEdit

banshee
(from Irish bainsídhe/beansídhe, "female fairy") (M-W), "woman of the fairies" (AHD) or "...of a fairy mound" (RH). The Modern Irish word for woman is bean /bæn/ and síd(h) (or in modern spelling) is an Irish term referring to a 'fairy mound'. (See sidhe.)
bog
(from bogach meaning "marsh/peatland") a wetland (OED).
boreen
(from bóithrín meaning "small road") a narrow rural road in Ireland.
boycott
(from Charles Boycott, an English land agent who was ostracised by his local community in Ireland)
brogue
A strong regional accent, especially an Irish one. Presumably used originally with reference to the footwear of speakers of the brogue (OED).
brogues
(from bróg meaning "shoe") a type of shoe (OED).
clabber, clauber
(from clábar) wet clay or mud; curdled milk.
colleen
(from cailín meaning "young woman") a girl (usually referring to an Irish girl) (OED).
craic
fun, used in Ireland for fun/enjoyment, often when mixed with alcohol and/or music. The word is actually English in origin; it entered into Irish from the English "crack" via Ulster Scots. The Gaelicised spelling craic was then reborrowed into English. The craic spelling, although preferred by most of the Irish people, has garnered some criticism as a faux-Irish word. but yet has no direct english translation as used in modern terms.[1]
cross
The ultimate source of this word is Latin crux, the Roman gibbet which became a symbol of Christianity. Some sources say the English wordform comes from Old Irish cros.[2][3] Other sources say the English comes from Old French crois[4] and others say it comes from Old Norse kross.[5]
drisheen
(from drisín or drúishin).
drum (ridge), drumlin
(from drom/druim meaning "ridge") a ridge often separating two long narrow valleys; a long narrow ridge of drift or diluvial formation. Drumlin is a linguistic diminutive of drum, and it means a small rounded hill of glacial formation, often seen in series (OED). A landscape of many Drumlins occurs in some parts of Ireland (including counties Cavan and Armagh). Drumlin is an established technical word in geology, but drum is almost never used.
dulse[2] 
(from Old Irish duilesc).
esker
(from eiscir) an elongated mound of post-glacial gravel, usually along a river valley (OED). Esker is a technical word in geology.
fenian
(from Fianna meaning "semi-independent warrior band") a member of a 19th century Irish nationalist group (OED).
fiacre
a small four-wheeled carriage for hire, a hackney-coach. Saint Fiacre was a seventh century Irish-born saint who lived in France for most of his life. The English word fiacre comes from French. (OED)
gallowglass
(from gallóglaigh).
galore
(from go leor meaning "til plenty") a lot (OED).
glen[2] 
From gleann Template:IPA-gd, a valley.
gob
(literally beak) mouth, though used in colloquial Irish more often to refer to a 'beaky' nose, i.e. a sticky-beak. Perhaps from Irish. (OED)
griskin
(from griscín) a lean cut of meat from the loin of a pig.
hooligan
(from the Irish family name Ó hUallacháin, anglicised as O'Houlihan) one who takes part in rowdy behaviour and vandalism.
keening
(from caoinim meaning "I wail") to lament, to wail mournfully (OED). No relation to "keen" = eager.
kibosh, kybosh
to finish, to end. The OED says the origin is obscure and possibly Yiddish. Other sources,[6] suggest that it may be from the Irish an chaip bháis meaning "the cap of death" (a reference to the "black cap" worn by a judge passing sentence of capital punishment, or perhaps to the gruesome method of execution called pitchcapping);[7] or else somehow connected with "bosh", from Turkish "boş" (empty).
leprechaun
(from leipreachán or leath bhrogán) (OED).
loch, lough
(from loch) a lake, or arm of the sea. According to the OED, the spelling "lough" was originally a separate word with a similar meaning but different pronunciation, perhaps from Old Northumbrian: this word became obsolete, effectively from the 16th century, but in Anglo-Irish its spelling was retained for the word newly borrowed from Irish.
phoney
(likely from the English fawney meaning "gilt brass ring used by swindlers", which is from Irish fainne meaning "ring") fake.
poteen
(from póitín) hooch, bootleg alcoholic drink (OED)
shamrock
(from seamróg) a clover, used as a symbol for Ireland (OED).
Shan Van Vocht
(from sean-bhean bhocht meaning "poor old woman") a literary name for Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries.
shebeen
(from síbín meaning "a mugful") unlicensed house selling alcohol (OED).
shillelagh
(from sailéala meaning "a club") a wooden club or cudgel made from a stout knotty stick with a large knob on the end.
sidhe
(pronounced 'she') the fairy folk of Ireland, from (aos) sídhe (OED). See banshee.
slapper
(from slapach meaning "dirty") a prostitute.
sleveen, sleiveen
(from slíghbhín/slíbhín) an untrustworthy or cunning person. Used in Ireland and Newfoundland (OED).
slew
(from sluagh meaning "a large number") a great amount (OED). Note: as in a slew of new products, not as in slay.
slob
(from slab) mud (OED). Note: the English words slobber and slobbery do not come from this; they come from Old English.[4]
smithereens
small fragments, atoms. In phrases such as 'to explode into smithereens'. This is the word smithers (of obscure origin) with the Irish diminutive ending. Whether it derives from the modern Irish smidrín or is the source of this word is unclear (OED).
tilly
(from tuilleadh meaning "a supplement") used in Newfoundland to refer to an additional article or amount unpaid for by the purchaser, as a gift from the vendor (OED). This appears to be a colloquialism confined to Newfoundland.
tory
originally an Irish outlaw, probably from the Irish verb tóir meaning "pursue" (OED).
whiskey
(from uisce beatha meaning "water of life") (OED).

See alsoEdit

  • Hiberno-English
  • List of English words of Celtic origin
  • List of English words of Old Irish origin
  • List of English words of Scottish Gaelic origin
  • Lists of English words of international origin

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Ó Muirithe, Diarmaid, "The Words We Use", The Irish Times, 1992-12-05, p. 27.; reprinted in 2006, {{{author}}}, The Words We Use, ISBN 9780717140800:
    {{{text}}}
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Collins English Dictionary 21st Century Edition Harper Collins (2001) ISBN 0-00-472529-8
  3. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary by Douglas Harper
  4. 4.0 4.1 An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language by Walter W. Skeat (1888) (900 pages). Downloadable at Archive.org.
  5. ^ An Etymological Dictionary of Modern Englihsh by Ernest Weekely (1921) (850 pages). Downloadable at Archive.org.
  6. ^ "kibosh", Etymology online.
  7. ^ {{{year}}}, {{{author}}}, Slanguage, A Dictionary of Irish Slang:
    {{{text}}}

Template:Copy to Wiktionary Template:ManualTranswiki

Last modified on 24 February 2012, at 10:47