It was St. Patrick’s Day yesterday (two days ago, at least, by the time you get to read this), so I suppose it’s as good a time as any to look at a few of the words that have come from the Irish language, though I’ve looked at some before.
It’s important to clarify first, that the Irish language is not a dialect of English, but a completely different language more closely related to Romance languages than to English. Considering that it’s not spoken much anymore (is mór an trua é sin), and when it was it was only spoken on one small island, there aren’t going to be many English words of Irish origin. There a few though.
Both words in the title of this post, for example. I mentioned how whiskey comes from the Irish uisce beatha (water of life) before, and also how if you’re referring to whiskey from anywhere other than Scotland, you should include the E. Though James Joyce did spell it without the E.
Galore also comes from the Irish go leor, meaning enough, or plenty.
Smithereens also comes from the Irish smidiríní, meaning fragments. Specifically very small fragments, as smidirín (singular form of smidiríní) is the diminuitive form of smiodar (fragment).
Kibosh: as in to put the kibosh on something, to put a stop to it. This one’s debatable, but it may come from caip bháis (death cap), said to be the name of the black cap a judge would wear when passing a death sentence.
And now a couple of things that certainly aren’t Irish:
St. Patty’s Day: sorry, Patty is short for Patricia: it’s actually Paddy’s Day. The correct short form for Patrick is actually Paddy, probably from the Irish version of Patrick, Padraig. And we normally just say Paddy’s Day, not St. Paddy’s Day. St. Patty’s Day seems to only be used by Americans.
Top of the morning to ya: May have been used hundreds of years ago, but no Irish person ever says this now. And if they did, it wouldn’t be followed by laddie or lassie: those are from Scottish English.