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[ahy-rish] /ˈaɪ rɪʃ/
of, relating to, or characteristic of Ireland, its inhabitants, or their language.
the inhabitants of Ireland and their descendants elsewhere.
the aboriginal Celtic-speaking people of Ireland.
Also called Irish Gaelic. the Celtic language of Ireland in its historical or modern form.
Abbreviation: Ir, Ir.
get one's Irish up, Informal. to become angry or outraged:
Don't go getting your Irish up over a little matter like that.
Origin of Irish
1175-1225; Middle English Yrisse, Iris(c)h; compare Old English Īras people of Ireland (cognate with Old Norse Īrar); see -ish1
Related forms
Irishly, adverb
anti-Irish, adjective, noun
half-Irish, adjective
non-Irish, adjective, noun
pre-Irish, adjective
pro-Irish, adjective
pseudo-Irish, adjective
Usage note Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Irish
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The question that overshadowed all others, however, was that of the Irish Church.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • But there, as well as in the House, the Irish Establishment was doomed.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • This step followed legitimately after the disestablishment of the Irish Church.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • Every species of mere bodily labor is the prerogative of these Irish.

    Sketches from Memory Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • But, how different the condition of the Irish in this respect.

    Ridgeway Scian Dubh
British Dictionary definitions for Irish


of, relating to, or characteristic of Ireland, its people, their Celtic language, or their dialect of English
(informal, offensive) ludicrous or illogical
(functioning as pl) the Irish, the natives or inhabitants of Ireland
another name for Irish Gaelic
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Irish

c.1200, Irisce, from stem of Old English Iras "inhabitant of Ireland," from Old Norse irar, ultimately from Old Irish Eriu (accusative Eirinn, Erinn) "Erin," which is from Old Celtic *Iveriu (accusative *Iverionem, ablative *Iverione), perhaps from PIE *pi-wer- "fertile," literally "fat," from root *peie- "to be fat, swell" (see fat (adj.)).

Meaning "temper, passion" is 1834, American English (first attested in writings of Davy Crockett), from the legendary pugnacity of Irish people. Irish-American is from 1832; Irish coffee is from 1950. Wild Irish (late 14c.) originally were those not under English rule; Black Irish in reference to those of Mediterranean appearance is from 1888.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for Irish



A white person; Gray, ofay: You call all white people Irish? (1990s+ Black street gangs)

Related Terms

get one's dander up

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with Irish
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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