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Mediterranean Irish (plural Mediterranean Irish)

  1. (humorous, sometimes offensive) A member of a national group of the Eastern Mediterranean, especially one which was subjected to a period of British rule or occupation, such as the Greek or Italian people.
    • 1959, Labor-management Reform Legislation: Hearings Before a Joint Subcommittee of the Committee on Education and Labor, United States Congress, U.S. Government Printing Office, p. 742:
      His name is I. J. Saccamanno. He is a Mediterranean "Irish" and I love him like a brother.
    • 2000, Thomas W. Gallant, "Honor, Masculinity, and Ritual Knife Fighting in Nineteenth-Century Greece," American Historical Review, vol. 105, no. 2, p. 377:
      Since the 1830s, pro-British Ionians . . . took their cue from the colonial officers, who denigrated the Ionians, comparing them to the aboriginal groups like the Hottentots or Irish. Indeed, the British frequently referred to the Ionians as the "Mediterranean Irish."


Mediterranean Irish (not comparable)

  1. Of or pertaining to such people.
    • 2007, "Advertisement for 'Kiss Me...I'm Irish' T-shirt,, comment posted by Donamaria, 24 Feb. (retrieved 21 Jan 2008):
      My dear deceased mama used to say to me when I was young and cried b/c I was all Italian. . . "You're Mediterranean Irish and that's good enough" on St. Pat's day!
    • 2007 March 28, "Licari of Arabia,", (retrieved 20 Jan 2008):
      My name is Tony Licari. . . . An Irish guy once told me I was "Mediterranean Irish." I guess that is slang for those of us with vowels at the end of our surnames.

Usage notesEdit

  • As indicated by the quotations, this term seems to have evolved. In contemporary North American usage, it is used as a jocular, relatively inoffensive nickname for people of Italian extraction. In earlier, mainly British usage it was a derogatory designation for Ionian Greeks.

Related termsEdit