1. the inhabitants of Ireland and their descendants elsewhere.
  2. the aboriginal Celtic-speaking people of Ireland.
  3. Also called Irish Gaelic. the Celtic language of Ireland in its historical or modern form. Abbreviation: Ir, Ir.Compare Middle Irish, Old Irish.
  4. Irish English.
  5. Irish whiskey.
  1. 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 formsI·rish·ly, adverban·ti-I·rish, adjective, nounhalf-I·rish, adjectivenon-I·rish, adjective, nounpre-I·rish, adjectivepro-I·rish, adjectivepseu·do-I·rish, adjective

Usage note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for irish

Contemporary Examples of irish

Historical Examples of irish

  • The question that overshadowed all others, however, was that of the Irish Church.

    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

  • But there, as well as in the House, the Irish Establishment was doomed.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • Every species of mere bodily labor is the prerogative of these Irish.

    Sketches from Memory

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • The fact is, her laurels, for the most part, have been gathered by Irish hands.


    Scian Dubh

British Dictionary definitions for irish


  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of Ireland, its people, their Celtic language, or their dialect of English
  2. informal, offensive ludicrous or illogical
  1. the Irish (functioning as plural) the natives or inhabitants of Ireland
  2. 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

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

Idioms and Phrases with irish


see luck of the devil (Irish).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.