There are snazzy words galore that come from Irish, buddy.
People have been using the word ‘galore’ in English since the 1620s. It means plenty, or in abundance. But the word comes from the Irish term go leór, which means ‘just enough’.
This gorgeous word meaning ‘small pieces’ comes from the Irish word smidirín, which means a fragment of something larger.
Buddy is another Irish word. It comes from the expression a bhodaigh, which means mate or pal. Interestingly, a bhodaigh is a form of the Irish word bod. Your bod is your penis, which is perhaps a man’s very best pal of all…
You might think slob was an English slang word. But it’s Irish. From the word, slaba…which means slime. Slobbing out seems less appealing now, somehow.
When people talk of putting the kibosh of something, it means bring something to an abrupt end. Chaip bháis (pronounced kai-vas) is Irish for ‘the cap of death’ – the hooded, black hat worn by an executioner. You don’t get many more abrupt endings than an execution.
We’re bombarded with slogans all the time in adverts. The word comes from the Irish slua ghairm, which is a loud yell or a battle cry.
Patrick O’Houlihan was an Irish bouncer living in south London in the 1890s. He was also a thief and a troublemaker. The police called his gang the Houlihan Boys which over the years became Hooligan…and the rest is history.
Not the type you drink from. When you say someone has an ugly mug, you’re saying they’re really very ugly. Mug in this sense is from the Irish word muic, which means pig.
The word for a poor part of a town or city comes from the Irish word slom. It was first used by Irish settlers in New York and means ‘bleak’, which pretty much sums up your prospects if you live in a slum.
10. Gee whiz
This is another expression with origins in the language used by 19th century emigrants to the USA. Dia uas means ‘noble God’, and was used in conversation to mean something like, ‘Oh dear God!’. The way it’s pronounced is very similar to ‘gee whiz’…
Boycott was a person. Captain Charles Boycott. He was a landowner in Co. Mayo in the 19th century. His tenants were appalled by the high rents he charged them and refused to pay…the boycott was born.
Members of the Conservative Party like Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron have been nicknamed ‘Tory’ since the 1800s. The word is Irish. Tóir is a verb, ‘to purse’, and tóraidhe (pronounced toar-ay) are the people you’re pursuing. Way back when, the word was used to refer specifically to English Jacobites in Ireland. At first, it was a bit derogatory. But over time, English conservatives reclaimed the nickname as a badge of honour.
It’s perhaps a bit old fashioned, but ballyhoo means a lot of fuss or excitement. But before it meant that, a ballyhoo was the Irish word bailliú, a gathering or party.
Bróg is the Irish word for shoe. These days in English, it means quite a specific type of shoe – one with decorative perforations. You can also use it to refer to an Irish accent.
In America, you often hear people refer to police officers as coppers. It’s Irish. The verb ceapaim means to catch on. So the police are really ‘catcher-on-ers’!
If something is snazzy it is glamorous, cool, stylish. And the word is derived from the Irish verb snas, meaning to polish.
17. In a jiffy
If you’re going to be there in a minute, you might say ‘I’ll be there in a jiffy’. The expression comes from deifir (the ‘d’ here sounds like a ‘j’), which means in a hurry!
Níl aon scéal eile agam. Slán agus beannacht leat!
(I’ve no more to add. So goodbye, and take care!)