Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


1. someone who is Irish is from Ireland
2. relating to Ireland, or its language or culture

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The adjective and noun Irish come from the noun Ireland, originally in Old English ‘Irland’, plus the suffix -ish, used to form adjectives and nouns relating to nationality.


As well as being both a noun and an adjective, Irish appears in a number of compound nouns including Irish stew, Irish coffee and Irish setter (the entry includes gorgeous photos of the breed). Since yesterday was St Patrick’s day, I thought this would be a good time to highlight some of the past material about Irish English on the blog. You can find a list of resources on Irish English here and posts about Irish English here, here and here. Stan Carey, who writes regular posts for us on all aspects of English usage, often writes about Irish English on his own blog, Sentence First. You can read one of his posts for us here and find more by entering his name in the search box on the blog.


“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.”
(W B Yeats)

“If one could only teach the English how to talk, and the Irish how to listen, society here would be quite civilized.”
(Oscar Wilde)

Related words

Scottish, English, Swedish, Cornish

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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