Check Out Our Genealogy Blog »

Interesting Irish to English Words



There can be certain words or phrases your relatives / ancestors may have used over the years. Many of these words are originally based on the Irish language and then became more a common English word.

Here are a few examples.

Irish term for family is ‘clann’ and in English it became ‘clan‘.

Irish terms for whiskey are Fuisce” or “uisce bheatha” which means the water of life. While the English word has evolved quite a bit from these versions, the basic “shh” sound in the middle and the ending is still there.

The Irish term “smiodar” or “smidiríní” means debris. That in the English form is smithereens.

During the Land War in the 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s in Ireland, the poor Irish tenant farmers were locked in a battle to win themselves better rights and even to have lower rents. There was a Capt. Charles Boycott, a British land agent, employed by a land owner who attempted to evict eleven families from their homes during these civil disputes. Capt. Boycott at one of the Lord Erne’s work fields found that it was empty of any workers and even the house staff refused to work. It was a form of protest and the term ‘boycott‘ became associated with civil unrest or social protest from then on. (Anyone with that surname?)

The Irish term “Go leor” means there was a lot of something, plenty and is pronounced exactly the same as the English word “galore.”

Photos: Irish whiskey, pottery in smithereens, Irish Land Wars and Capt Charles Boycott.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Finding Irish Ancestors

Origin of Irish Surnames

Irish and American Words – Phrases

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Family Tree Search
Find Ancestors. Build Your Tree.
First Name
Last Name
Your Email
  Please click for genealogy related offers.