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 irishes

Historical Examples of irishes

  • On getting to—I was received into the religious house for Irishes.

    The Romany Rye

    George Borrow

British Dictionary definitions for irishes


  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 irishes


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 irishes


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.