Most Shared

10 surprising Irish words you didn't know you were using almost every day.

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, giving us even more reason to celebrate Irish culture.

10 surprising Irish words you didn't know you were using almost every day.

March 17 is a wonderful day. No, not because of Evacuation Day — I'm talking about St. Patrick's Day!

As an Irish-American, the feast day of Ireland's patron saint is particularly important to me. Though it has its origins in solemn Christian reverence, it's come to be more accepted as a celebration of all things Irish — a chance for the rich culture of the island and its diaspora to truly shine.

There's just one small problem:


"Éire go Brách," which basically translates to "Ireland Forever." Photo by Ben Stansall/Stringer/Getty Images.

People keep calling it "St. Patty's Day." Which is totally, utterly wrong.

A "patty" is a hamburger. Or a veggie burger, if that's your thing. A "Patty" is Patricia, who might well be a wonderful woman. And "St. Patty" was an Italian woman whose feast day is in August.

"Paddy" is the proper way to shorten the Irish name of Pádraig, which has since been Anglicized (literally, "made into English") as "Patrick." The name means "noble born" and comes from the Latin roots for "patriarch" — you know, like Father, 'cause St. Pádraig was a priest 'n' stuff.

Hamburger jokes aside, the Irish people suffered centuries upon centuries of colonial oppression from Britain, which included the erasure of their language.

So basically, saying "St. Patty" is like pouring salt in a gaping cultural wound.

In fact, there's been way more Anglicizing of the Irish language than most people realize. Here are a few words (or a "cúpla focal") that we owe to the Land of a Hundred Thousand Welcomes.

"Céad Míle Fáilte" means "a hundred thousand welcomes" and is commonly found in pubs. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

1. Slogan

From "slua," meaning "crowd" (or "sluag," for "army"), and "gairm," meaning "call." "Slua" is pronounced "slew," which may be why we say "a whole slew of things" too.

2. Galore

From "go leor," which basically means "until many." Makes sense, right?

3. Hooligan

This one is less of a translation and more of a pejorative origin derived from stereotypical depictions of the Irish as rowdy drunken brawlers. See also: "paddy wagon," which is so named either because the Irish were stereotypically cops or because they were stereotypically getting arrested for being drunk and violent.

Sigh.

Clearly the two most important Irish-to-English translations that anyone would ever need. Photo by Patrick Nielsen Hayden/Flickr.

4. Smithereens

This literally means "little pieces," a combination of "smiodar" for "debris" and "ín," a common Irish suffix for "small" that has been Anglicized to "een." See also: "Colleen," which means "little cailín," or simply "a girl."

5. Clan

From, uhh, well, "clann," which means "family."

Easy enough!

6. Swanky

This comes from "sócmhainní," which means "assets," or "somhaoineach" for "profitable." (And yes, the spelling looks strange, but it actually makes a lot of sense once you figure out all the different combinations of open vowel sounds.)

7. Whiskey

A personal favorite of mine, both in drinking and translation. This comes from "uisce beatha," which means "water of life." Yup.

Carál Ní Chuilín, the Minister of Arts and Culture for Northern Ireland, advertising for a campaign in better Irish language fluency. Photo by Líofa Fluent/Flickr.

8. Kibosh

Even I was under the impression that this was a Yiddish word. But it turns out it was likely derived from "caipin," or "cap," and "bháis," or death — literally "death cap," and the Irish name for a candle-snuffer. Judges also wore an chaip bháis when announcing their sentences.

So basically, when you "put the kibosh" on something, you're actually killing it. Yay?

9. Phony

This one's kind of complicated, but also really cool. It probably comes from "fáinne," an Irish word for a ring, and refers to a confidence scheme called a "Fawney Rig," which involves "accidentally" dropping a fake ring of value in front of a victim and then selling it to them for way more than it's actually worth.

10. Keening

"Keening" is to cry or wail, usually for the dead, and it's just a differently spelled (but similarly pronounced) version of the Irish word "caoineadh," which means the same.


Advertising Britain's Irish language network, Coláiste na nGael. Photo by Christy Evans/Wikimedia Commons.

Like the Irish hero-poet-politician Pádraig Pearse once said: "Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam — a country without a language is a country without a soul."

The Irish language might be struggling to survive, but it's not dead yet. In fact, it's one of the oldest living languages in the world, as well as the first national language of the Republic of Ireland, which means that all government documents are written in Irish and English and that children study the language in school.

That being said, less than 2% of the population actually speaks the native tongue on a daily basis, and only 41% claim to speak it at all, even after years of schooling.

Thanks, colonialism!

But this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising and the beginning of Ireland's struggle for independence, making it an extra-special year for celebration.

So go forth with your newfound Irish knowledge and have the craic (that means "fun")!

Which means a lot more than just drinking alcohol, by the way. But if you are gonna drink, please be safe — and for the last time, stop ordering Irish car bombs.

True

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday are teaming up to find the people who lead with love everyday.

Know someone in your neighborhood who's known for their optimistic attitude, commitment to bettering their community and always leading with love? Tell us about them for the chance to win a $2,000 grant to keep doing good in their community.

Nomination ends November 22, 2020

via Brittany Kinley / Facebook

Brittany Kinley, a mother from Mansfield, Texas, had a hilarious mom fail her and she's chalking it up to being just another crazy thing that happened in 2020.

When Kinley filled out the order form for her son Mason's kindergarten class pictures, there was an option to have his name engraved into the photos. But Kinley wasn't interested in having her son's name on the photos so she wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" on the box.

Well, it appears as though she should have left the box blank because the computer or incredibly literal human that designed the photographs wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" where mason's name should be.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

Keep Reading Show less
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less