St. Patrick’s Day Lingo: The Basics

  • March 13, 2013
  • Jenna Maxwell


Every holiday can be made that much better when you take a little extra time to get into the true spirit and flavor that the celebration was meant to have.  St. Patrick’s Day is no exception.  By now, you’ve likely planned your Irish-themed festivities and your green wardrobe accordingly and are almost ready to go out and really rock this holiday.  All you need now is to learn a little bit of the language! Adding a little Irish-speak to your day is a quick and easy way to not only make you feel a little more Irish, but seriously, this lingo also goes perfectly with your leprechaun costume, too!

Blarney-Blarney is a type of speech that is intended to overly flatter or even to mislead.  Essentially, blarney is the Irish word for complete “bull pucky”!

Blarney Stone-A stone built into the Blarney Castle.  Legend states that kissing the Blarney Stone will give the kisser of it the gift of gab, his or her speech being then made very eloquent, humorous and even witty.

Banshee-In Irish legend and mythology, the banshee was a female fairy that would wail and clap wildly before someone’s death.

Brogue-A very strong accent usually associated with Irish or Scottish people who are speaking English.

Blessings-Traditionally an Irish Blessing is given as a toast at a wedding or other event-- yes, like St. Patrick’s Day! The most well known Irish Blessing of all goes like this:

      May the road rise to meet you.
      May the wind be always at your back.
      May the sun shine warm upon your face.
      And rains fall soft upon your fields.
      And until we meet again,
      May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Corned Beef- Corned beef is beef that has been through a curing process with salt.  Before refrigeration was available, curing meat with salt was a common practice used to help preserve it.  Corned beef has been traditionally heavily produced in Ireland.

Clover-A type of plant with leaves in three sections and dense heads of small flowers.

Green- Green is the color between blue and yellow on the color spectrum.  It is also the color most associated with the Emerald Isle. (Ireland) Wearing green is a huge part of all St. Patrick’s Day celebrating. 

Irish Eyes are Smilin’-This phrase has actually been adapted from a song that was written about Ireland.

     When Irish eyes are smiling,
     Sure ‘tis like a morn in spring.
     In the lilt of Irish laughter,
     You can hear the angels sing.
     When Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay,
     And when Irish eyes are smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.

Kiss Me I’m Irish-Have you heard it said, “It’s the next best thing to being there?”  Well this phrase is sort of like that.  Kissing the Blarney stone is supposed to give the kisser good luck and the gift of gab.  If you can’t go actually kiss the stone, supposedly kissing an Irish person is almost as good!

Luck-Although today most people consider Irish people synonymous with good luck, it seems rather ironic, as historically the Irish folks have been rather unlucky.  Perhaps surviving hardship is what makes the Irish lucky or this term could be associated with some of the early Irish gold miners who, during the California Gold Rush, did indeed strike gold.

Lucky Charms-Symbols or emblems that are thought to increase good luck or fortune. In Irish culture, some of these would include the four-leaf clover, the horseshoe or a rainbow.

Lad-A boy or a young man.

Lassie-An unmarried girl or woman.

Limerick- A silly or very humorous verse that is often Irish themed, with a very distinct rhyming pattern.  Lines 1, 2 and 5 rhyme with each other while lines 3 and 4 rhyme with each other. 

Leprechaun-In Irish folklore, the leprechaun is a mischievous and diminutive sprite that is a shoemaker by trade.  Leprechauns are money hoarders who are thought to store their pots of gold at the end of rainbows.

Plastic Paddy-This is a slang term used to describe someone with no ancestral connection to Ireland.

Shillelagh- A club or type of hand weapon used in Ireland.

Shamrock-A type of Irish clover that was used by Saint Patrick in order to teach the Irish people about the Holy Trinity.  Today the shamrock is a symbol representing Ireland as well as good luck.

Stout- A very dark, strong beer.  A stout is traditionally the darkest, strongest beer produced by a brewery.  Irish stout or “black beer” has an almost roasted or coffee-like taste.  The most commonly noted Irish stout is Guinness.

Wild Irish Rose-Cheap alcoholic beverages that still manage to pack a punch.

Top O’ the Morning to Ya-A traditional Irish greeting.  If someone says this to you, the appropriate response is “and the rest of the day to you!” 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  May yours be filled with good luck and lots of Irish fun!