of, relating to, or characteristic of , its inhabitants, or their language.
the inhabitants of and their descendants elsewhere.
the aboriginal Celtic-speaking people of .
Also called Irish Gaelic. the Celtic language of in its historical or modern form.
Abbreviation: Ir, Ir.
Compare , .
get one’s Irish up, Informal. to become angry or outraged:
Don’t go getting your Irish up over a little matter like that.
Contemporary Examples

“I felt like a failure for being sick,” she said, deflating for a moment over her Irish coffee.
The Stripper Who Lost a Breast Melissa Lion August 20, 2009

Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope, the story of an Irish lawyer who more or less wanders into Parliament.
Scott Turow: How I Write Noah Charney October 22, 2013

Obama also has Irish roots, even further proof of how important the Emerald Isle is to our national gene pool.
How Insane Is the Beer Summit? Stanley Crouch July 29, 2009

Said an African American commentator who preferred not to be identified: “Phil Griffin loves hiring white Irish guys.”
The Unbearable Whiteness of Cable Rachel Sklar June 23, 2010

She talks about breaking into an Irish accent, her first book, and Michael Moore.
How I Write: Julianna Baggott Noah Charney February 11, 2014

Historical Examples

The Conservatives, consciously or unconsciously, used the Irish party.
Lord Randolph Churchill Winston Spencer Churchill

His florid face paled a little and his bright Irish eyes did not blink.
Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow

Why, there is that Irish boy; I wonder if he wouldn’t sell us some fish?
Little Fishers: and their Nets Pansy

This is an Irish picture; but in the north of England it is much the same.
The Science of Fairy Tales Edwin Sidney Hartland

The false display at Dublin was a deception both to the king and to the Irish.
Irish Nationality Alice Stopford Green

of, relating to, or characteristic of Ireland, its people, their Celtic language, or their dialect of English
(informal, offensive) ludicrous or illogical
(functioning as pl) the Irish, the natives or inhabitants of Ireland
another name for Irish Gaelic

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.


A white person; Gray, ofay: You call all white people Irish? (1990s+ Black street gangs)

Related Terms

get one’s dander up
see: luck of the devil (Irish)

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