Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Irish adj.

[the stereotypical Irishman or woman is stupid, short-tempered, violent (whether on the street or in the home), addicted to potatoes, keen on brawling and usu. employed in a menial, labouring task, often rural; all these traits are reflected in the combs. that follow, and all combs. with Irish should be assumed to be derog. (if seen as joc. by the coiner/speaker) unless otherwise stated]

1. a general negative racial epithet; usu. in combs. below.

[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. IX 85/1: The lady has since written to her friends, that there is nothing Irish about him but his title.
[Aus]F. Garrett diary 14 Sept. [Internet] Only once or twice have I seen the stick used in earnest, and then I don’t think it was the stick that was used (which is Irish).
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper 4 40: It has a lot of sense and logic to it in an Irish sort of way.

2. see Irish stew adj.

I. Pertaining to worka. The wheelbarrow

In compounds

Irish ambulance (n.)

(US) a wheelbarrow.

[US](con. 1918) Gallegher Battle of Bolts and Nuts 109: I do not think that since the invention of modern methods to remove dirt, has ever such a gigantic project been undertaken to move as much dirt as was dug with a pick, shoveled with a hand shovel and moved in an Irish ambulance, as moved on that job [HDAS].
Irish baby buggy (n.)

(US) a wheelbarrow.

[US]H. Simon ‘Prison Dict.’ in AS VIII:3 (1933) 24/2: BUGGY. Wheelbarrow; an Irish baby-buggy.
[US]Weseen Dict. Amer. Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US] in DARE.
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish baby buggy n [DAS ca 1915] Wheelbarrow; from the stereotype of the Irish laborer.
Irish buggy (n.) (also Irish buggie)

(US) a wheelbarrow.

[US]Warren Sheaf (Marshall Cty, MN) 29 June 4/1: Mr Augstein has a new (Irish) buggy.
[US]Mohave County Miner (Mineral Park, AZ) 22 Dec. 5/1: Hank McClure is running the Irish buggy.
T.L. Oddie letter 30 July Letters from the Nevada Frontier (1992) 211: Last week [...] I had a comical mishap with the wheelbarrow [...] I supposed I was perfection with my ‘Irish buggy’ but I find I have a thing to learn about it yet.
[US]Spokane Press (WA) 4 July 9/5: John Kane, who has been at the police court several times for stealing wheelbarrows [...]seems to have a passion for ‘Irish buggies’.
[US]Scribner’s Mag. LXV 436/1: Ye fair disgoosted me with the way ye cavorted round with that Irish buggy.
[US]C. Panzram Journal of Murder in Gaddis & Long (2002) 39: My part was [...] to pack my little iron pill and my tools into the Irish buggy and wheel it all back to the prison.
[US]V.W. Saul ‘Vocab. of Bums’ in AS IV:5 341: Irish buggie — A wheelbarrow.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 107: Irish Buggy. – A wheelbarrow, another of the many popular references to the Irish worker, always an object of mirth to the public.
[US]Mencken Amer. Lang. Supplement I 604: A wheelbarrow was an Irish chariot or buggy, and there was a stock witticism to the effect that it was the greatest of human inventions, since it had taught the Irish to walk on their hind legs.
F.A. Crampton Deep Enough (1982) 112: There were plenty of offers to help me cart stuff away. it was heavy, and an Irish buggy would have helped.
[US]A. Green ‘Dutchman’ in AS XXXV:4 (Dec.) 270: Phrases in this category that I have heard in actual usage in San Francisco building construction and waterfront employment are: [...] Irish buggy [etc.].
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish buggy n [DAS ca 1915] Wheelbarrow; from the stereotype of the Irish laborer.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 12: Q. What is an Irish buggy? A. A wheelbarrow.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish chariot (n.)

(US) a wheelbarrow.

[US]Mencken Amer. Lang. Supplement I 604: A wheelbarrow was an Irish chariot or buggy, and there was a stock witticism to the effect that it was the greatest of human inventions, since it had taught the Irish to walk on their hind legs.
Irish local (n.)

(US) a wheelbarrow [SAmE local, a local train line].

[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish local n [DAS ca 1915] Wheelbarrow; from the stereotype of the Irish laborer.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 212: Irish local. A wheelbarrow (because it makes so many stops).
[Ire]Share Slanguage.

b. Tools for physical labour

Irish banjo (n.) (also Irish spoon)

a spade, a shovel.

[US]O.W. Norton Army Letters (1903) 73: One company just passed armed with ‘Irish spoons,’ going out to work in the trenches [DA].
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 3 Dec. 4/4: he helped construct a branch of the B. & M. from Aurora to Grand Island, playing an ‘Irish banjo’.
U. Chicago Mag. 10 301/2: Tolbert being in the Artillery and acting nurse-maid to a bunch of long-haired horses, while Gleeson held an Irish banjo and dug trenches.
[US]Rotarian July 48/2: ‘Guess we’ll set you to strumming an “Irish banjo”’ [...] They handed me a shovel!
‘Weldon Hill’ One of the Casualities 319: ‘Playin an Irish banjo for the city water department all summer.’ Clay knew that. ‘Wot’s an Irish banjo?’ He grinned. ‘A long-handled shovel, man’ .
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish banjo; Irish spoon n Shovel; from the stereotype of the Irish laborer.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 12: Q. What is an Irish banjo? A. A shovel.
Irish fan (n.)

(US) a spade, a shovel.

[US]DN V 181: Irish fan, n. A shovel.
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish fan n Shovel; from the stereotype of the Irish laborer.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 211: Irish fan. A shovel.
Irish local (n.)

a hand-car, propelled by pushing a handle backwards and forwards.

[US]DN II 45: [College lingo] Irish local [...] a hand-car.
Irish screwdriver (n.)

a hammer.

[Ire]Share Slanguage.
G.R. Dupas Values in Conflict 80: The strategy might best equate to an Irish screwdriver used to hang a hook. It will get the job done but not without causing significant damage below the surface.
Irish toothpick (n.)

(US) a pickaxe.

[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 139: He pointed with the pick handle. ‘Get your ass long-gone or you’ll be digging this Irish toothpick out of it!’.

II. Pertaining to fooda. The potato

Irish apple (n.)

a potato.

Sumter Minter (OR) 8 Nov. 5/2: Men were busy at the depot handling sacked Irish apples [...] there were [...] fifty tons of these spuds.
[US]Salt Lake Trib. (UT) 7 Apr. 7/1: South America, the native land of the ‘Irish apple’.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]McCulloch Woods Words 95: Irish apples – Potatoes.
[US] in J.P. Spradley You Owe Yourself a Drunk (1988) 57: Warren came back with a few raw potatoes (Irish apples).
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish apple [...] n Potato.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 210: Synonyms include Irish apple, Irish grape, and Irish lemon.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish apricot (n.)

a potato.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Irish apricots, potatoes; it is a common joke against the Irish vessels to say they are loaded with fruit and timber, that is, potatoes and broomsticks.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 23 June 3/2: The Hibernian lay with his [...] mouth open, as if he had wanted an Irish apricot to fill his potato-trap.
[UK]Mirror of Lit. XVI 242/1: The ‘darlings’ were now stimulated to a decisive measure, by aiming an Irish apricot at his nodding plume, and shouting out,—‘Devil burn ye, Paddy Barret! will ye lave off speaking to that lady, and listen?’ The potato triumphed.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Jorrocks Jaunts (1874) 147: His cargo [was] ‘timber and fruit,’ as he described it, that is to say, broomsticks and potatoes.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Huddersfield Chron. 16 June 3/5: Aiming an Irish apricot at his nodding plume, and shouting out, ‘Divil burn ye, Paddy Barret!’.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 10 Apr. 3/6: ‘Irish apricots’ [...] are potatoes.
[US]Maitland Amer. Sl. Dict. 150: Irish apricots [...] potatoes.
[US]N. Platte Semi-wkly Trib. (NE) 14 May 3/3: ‘Irish apricots’ [...] meaning potatoes.
[US]Reno (NV) Eve. Gazette 28 Apr. 2/2: The potato is an ‘Irish apricot’.
Free Trader-Jrnl (Ottowa, IL) 8 Dec. 7/3: Gastronomic Animals [...] Irish apricots or Munster plums are potatoes.
[US]Warren Sheaf (MN) 2 Feb. 2/2: The potato is such an important crop in Ireland that they are jocularly called ‘Irish apricots’.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 24 Dec. 4/2: Potatoes defined as ‘Irish apricots’.
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish apricot n Potato.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 12: Q. What are Irish apricots? A. Potatoes.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish football (n.)

(US) a potato.

D. Smith Report from Engine Company 82 17: Yessir, men, Mrs. O’Mann is cooking Irish footballs tonight.
Irish fruit (n.) (also Irishman’s fruit, Irish wall fruit)

a potato.

Bridges Adventures of a Bank-note III 157: A belly-full is a belly-ful, though it be only of that [...] Irish wall fruit call’d potatoes.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 16 Aug. 3/2: This highly interesting bit of evidence cooked Mr Baker’s Irish fruit.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 13 May 1/1: A well-known city man is a whale on potato culture [...] he hopes thereby to acquire a supply of Irishman’s fruit for the winter.
[US]El Paso Herald (TX) 4 Oct. 16/2: Spuds are cheaper. This good Irish fruit has come to the rescue of the common people.
Irish lemon (n.) (US)

1. a potato.

[US]W. Kansas World (Wakeeney, KS) 23 Oct. 1/4: T. Courtney and E. Arnold started [...] to Phillips county, to get each a load of Irish lemons.
[US]Maitland Amer. Sl. Dict. 150: Irish lemons, potatoes.
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 16 Sept. 3/4: The Americans are not such great lovers of the Irish lemons.
[US]L.A. Times 9 Apr. 5: ‘Wake up,’ he cried, ‘one brown stone front, side of a funeral; two Irish lemons with all clothes on; plate of punk; an easy smear of axle grease and draw one in the dark, cap it all off with a farmer’s alliance.’.
[US]Red Cloud Chief (Webster Co., NE) 23 Nov. 8/4: Woe unto us that we should see ‘our peerless leader’ [...] for the second time passed up, knocked out, dropped like a red hot Irish lemon.
[US]El Paso Herald (TX) 4 Oct. 16/2: Spuds are cheaper. [...] They were five cents per pound, those Irish lemons.
[US] in DARE.
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish lemon n Potato.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 210: Synonyms include Irish apple, Irish grape, and Irish lemon.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.

2. an onion.

[US]Princeton Union (MN) 17 July 3/3: Andrew Umbehocker has two or three acres of onions [...] There is money is raising Irish lemons.
Irish root (n.)

a potato.

[UK]Western Times 4 Apr. 3/1: For all those cruel billious [sic] pains [...] were caused by eating semi-cooked The Irish Root.
[UK]Morn. Chron. (London) 17 Nov. 5/5: The wheat looks queer, the murphies ill [...] the ‘accursed Irish root’.
[US]Sunbury Ameclurican (PA) 17 Sept. 1/2: Now hunger makes ‘his bowels yearn,’ / For ‘yams’ or ‘Irish roots’.
[UK]Manchester Eve. News 17 June 2/4: If [...] ‘potato whisky’ is useful [...] we might as well patronise the produce of the Irish root, as go to Bremen for it.

b. Other foodstuffs

Irish cherry (n.)

(US) a carrot.

[US]H.W. Bentley ‘Linguistic Concoctions of the Soda Jerker’ in AS XI:1 43: IRISH CHERRIES. Carrots.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 211: Irish cherry. A carrot.
Irish cocktail (n.) [play on mickey finn n.]

(US) a drink containing a substance that causes unconsciousness.

J. Ciardi Browser’s Dict. 248: Mickey Finn...Irish cocktail.
Irish horse (n.)

tough, undercooked salt beef.

[UK]Smollett Roderick Random (1979) 185: Our provision consisted of putrid salt beef, to which the sailors gave the name of Irish horse.
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish horse n Salt beef or tough corned beef.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish jewels (n.)

(UK und.) ? butter.

[UK]Flash Mirror 4: The Bug Walk [...] This house is a pannum supply; where can be had [...] a small starver and Irish jewels for a win.
Irish nachos (n.)

(US) fried potato wedges and (refried) beans.

[US]ADS-L 28 Feb. [Internet] IRISH NACHOS — ‘wedges & beans,’ according to one menu. These were a regular feature at the Scott, Foresman corporate cafeteria in Glenview, Illinois for at least the years 1995–2000. They were wedge fries covered with refried beans, cheese, and salsa. I was always too frightened of the way they looked under the presentation glass dome to try them, and besides, I thought I should fight against the stereotype of the Irish as inveterate potato-eaters.
Irish turkey (n.) [popularized by its use in the comic strip ‘Jiggs and Maggie’, properly Bringing Up Father (1913-2000) by George McManus]

(US) corned (UK: salt) beef and cabbage.

[US] ‘Rafferty’s Party’ in Donnybrook-Fair Comic Songster 51: Upon the table was laid a grand supper – / Real Irish turkey, caught in the sea; / Corned beef and cabbage, skellians and butter.
Daily Honolulu Press (HI) 11 Dec. 3/2: ‘Irish Turkey’ [...] formed one of the items of the buill of fare at a Nuuanu Street retaurant yesterday noon. An Irish gentleman [...] said he would ‘try some of the turkey.’ He was promptly served with a fine plate of California cabbage and several neatly sliced pieces of corned beef.
[US]C. Connors in National Police Gazette 23 July 3: I’d been better off if I’d let it go at dat an’ stuck ter de Irish turkey – ah, corned beef, ain’t yer on? – wot Her Nobs hands out reg’lar.
[US]N.Y. Times 24 Mar. SM2: ‘If corned beef is Irish turkey, what is macaroni?’ ‘Ginney-hen.’.
[US]‘High Jinks, Jr’ Choice Sl. 86: New York Bowery Slang...Irish turkey — Corned beef .
[US]N. Klein ‘Hobo Lingo’ in AS I:12 651: Irish turkey — corned beef and cabbage.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 49: I’m gonna play the old C.B. and C. I can eat Irish turkey 4 times a day.
[US]Wash. Post 2 Apr. C6: Alas and alack for all the hymns to ‘red mike and violets’ and ‘Irish turkey,’ corned beef and cabbage is not now and never was an Irish dish. Its origins are as American as apple pie and as Yankee as the clambake.
[US]Mencken Amer. Lang. (4th edn) 583: Corned beef and cabbage is Irish turkey.
[US]O. Ferguson ‘Vocabulary for Lakes, [etc.]’ AS XIX:2 106: Irish turkey is stew.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 805: irish turkey – Corned beef.
[US]Maledicta III:2 163: Irish turkey n [DAS ca 1935] Corned beef and cabbage, any hash.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 212: Irish turkey. Corned beef and cabbage (tramp talk); hash (Army talk).
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
mixed Irish (n.)

(US short order) beef stew.

Ft Wayne News (IN) 2 Feb. 7/1: Bowery Eating House Lingo [...] beef stew, ‘mixed Irish’.

III. Pertaining to sex

In compounds

Irish confetti (n.)

1. semen spilled outside the vagina (through coitus interruptus practised by pious Catholics).

[US]Maledicta IX 57: Irish confetti n [L] Semen spilled extravaginally.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.

2. see also violence compounds below.

3. see also general compounds below.

Irish disease (n.)

the state of having a small penis.

[UK]N. Cohn Yes We Have No 82: I bet you’ve got Irish disease, you Micks are all the same.
Irish inch (n.) [a slur on Irish penis size]

(US) the erect penis.

[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 35: He goes and hangs around the Catholic school. Gets those twelve year olds with big tits. [...] ‘I wanna find out what they eat to make their tits grow so I can feed it to my wife.’ ‘They eat the Irish inch.’.
Irish toothache (n.) (also i.t.a., Dutch salute)

1. an erection.

[UK]‘Three Chums’ in Boudoir I 2: The sight of this pretty Fanny [...] makes me feel quite so-so. In fact that girl has given me the Irish toothache.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 212: Irish toothache. Depending on context: (1) A persistent erection; (2) Pregnancy.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz 87 Dec. n.p.: Irish toothache n. An erection; bone. As in: ‘Is that a gun in your pocket, or have you just got Irish toothache?’.
[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz Apr. 47: dutch salute n. An Irish toothache.

2. pregnancy.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 156/2: I. T. A. (Peoples’). Euphemism for Irish toothache. [Ibid.] 158/1: Irish toothache (Peoples’). Enceinte.
[US]R.A. Wilson Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 212: Irish toothache. Depending on context: (1) A persistent erection; (2) Pregnancy.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish virgin (n.) [? pious Irish virgins who become nuns]

(US) one who is a virgin and is likely to remain one.

[US]Maledicta III:2 163: Irish virgin n One likely to remain a virgin.
Irish way (n.) [the belief that pious Catholics used anal intercourse as their sole means of contraception]

heterosexual anal intercourse.

[US]Maledicta II:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 161: The Irish Way Heterosexual anal intercourse [...] to prevent pregnancy.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 212: Irish way, the. Anal intercourse between man and woman (a form of birth control).
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish whist (n.)

sexual intercourse.

[UK]J. Phillips Maronides (1678) V Epistle: If they should see Virgil himself now playing at the serious game of Irish.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues IV 14/2: Irish-Whist, (where the Jack takes the Ace), [...] (venery). – Copulation.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 212: Irish whist. Copulation.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.

In phrases

dance the Irish jig (v.)

see under dance v.

give a hot poultice for the Irish toothache (v.)

of a woman, to have sexual intercourse.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 76: Consoler. To copulate; ‘to give a hot poultice for the Irish toothache’.
play (at) Irish whist (where the jack takes the ace) (v.)

to have sexual intercourse.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 75: Connaitre. To copulate; ‘to play at Irish whist (where the Jack takes the ace)’.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 189: To play Irish whist is when the Jack takes the Ace.

IV. Pertaining to lack of sophistication

Irish compliment (n.)

1. a blow.

[UK]Leicester Jrnl 12 Aug. 3/1: The complainant on going to see the fun, received an Irish compliment on his pate, which knocked him down.

2. a back-handed compliment.

[UK]Bristol Mercury 30 Apr. 5/4: Lord Rosebery [...] evoked from the Lord Chief Justice the ingenious Irish compliment that in the number of duties he performed he resembled the Boer in his versatility.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 211: Irish compliment. A backhanded one.
Irish funnies (n.) (also Irish funny papers, ...sports pages) [because of supposed Irish illiteracy]

the obituary columns in a newspaper.

C. Seaburg Boston Observed 246: The obituary columns of local newspapers have long been known as the ‘Irish funnies’ .
[US]in DARE III 455/1: In the Boston area, Irish funnies means the obituary columns in the newspapers.
Pensacola News Jrnl (FL) 29 Aug. 3/1: My uncle used to call the obituaries the ‘Irish funnies’.
Star trib. (Minneapolis, MN) 9 Aug. 25/1: Panegyrics, threnodies, [...] obituaries or the Irish funny papers [...] write-ups of the dead remain constant.
[US]Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, OH) 22 Mar. E8/5: If, like me, you are a regular reader of the obituary pages (the Irish sports pages, as the Irish call them), you will find, I think, that if you want to live a long life the best things to be are, in order, rich, a symphony orchestra conductor or a world-class politician.
Pensacola News Jrnl (FL) 5 Oct. 19: [headline] For those aware of their age, the ‘Irish funnies’ are no laughing matter.
Irish hint (n.)

(US) a very broad hint.

B. Whiting Early Amer. Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases (1977) 234: I believe there will not be the least danger of my getting an Irish hint as they call it.
F.P. Kenrick letter 14 June in Meline & McSween Story of the Mountain (1948) 150: I could find many things to say on this subject were I present tete-a-tete, but for the present I shall content myself with having dropped an Irish hint.
H.J. Nott Novellettes I 8: Various young men, [...] intimated, in what might be called Irish hints that they had espied the worthy Mr. Hunt [DAE].
[US]Boon’s Lick Times (Fayette, MO) 17 Nov. The Clique gave him the Irish hint! Not heard all of this!:
[US]Anderson Intelligencer (SC) 4 Oct. 1/7: It would take regular Irish hints to encourage a farmer to do anything .
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 22 Mar. 4/1: Thesr rumors look very much like Irish hints, which Mr Folger ought to take in that light.
[US]Morn. Call (San Francisco) 17 Nov. 3/4: The following letter was written November 6, 1891 [...] Dear Charlie: It can’t be possible that you are throwing me an ‘Irish hint’.
[US]Times (Richmond, VA) 8 Nov. 4/2: Chairman Jones’ refusal to give up the fight may be altered by an Irish hint from his party to retire.
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish hint n [DA 1834] Very broad hint; from the stereotype of Irish ignorance.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 211: Irish hint. A broad one. 8 Apr. [Internet] Nolan drops Irish hint. Bolton Wanderers midfielder Kevin Nolan [...] has dropped the biggest hint yet that he may be persuaded to change allegiance and declare for the Republic of Ireland.
Irish promotion (n.)

a demotion, a cut in one’s pay.

A.W. McClure Translators Revived 89: When Archbishop Whitgift wished the new Master ‘joy of his place,’ the latter replied that it was ‘terminus diminuens;’ which is Latin for ‘an Irish promotion,’ or a ‘hoist down hill’.
Chamber’s Jrnl 53 282/1: Bye, bye, boys; I am going before the stick, and have got Irish promotion. But I ’ve not done yet; so some of you look out.
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 24 Oct. 8/2: It is understood that the brakeman has received an Irish promotion.
[US]McCook Trib. (NE) 13 Feb. 1/3: The commotion, arising from a reduction in forces and several Irish promotions, has about subsided.
[US]Indep. (Honolulu) 27 Apr. 2/1: Such an ‘rish promotion’ has taken place [...] that Colonel Iaukea has been transmogrified into Major Iaukea.
[US]Indep. (Honolulu) 26 June 2/2: We hope they will set the apparent discourtesy of our Executive down to the fact that he [...] has recently got an Irish promotion.
[US]Eve. Bulletin (Honolulu) 21 July 6/3: The change has been in the nature of an Irish promotion.
[US]NY Tribune 30 Oct. 8/7: He got what is known on the other side as an Irish promotion.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 4 Mar. 8/4: This is a mixture of Devon economy and Irish promotion that can hardly be swallowed.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 212: Irish promotion (or raise). A demotion or pay cut.
Irish rise (n.) (also Irish raise, Irishman’s rise)

a cut in one’s pay.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 86: IRISH RISE: a rise in wages in an inverse manner, i.e. a reduction.
[UK]V. Davis Gentlemen of the Broad Arrows 222: Irishman’s rise [...] What has Lofty been up to to get a probationer’s job.
[US]Maledicta III:2 163: Irish raise n No raise at all.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 212: Irish promotion (or raise). A demotion or pay cut.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish wash (n.)

(US) the turning or reversing of a garment or other object to hide rather than actually remove the dirt.

[US] in DARE.

V. Pertaining to physique

In compounds

Irish channel (n.) [down which alcohol flows]

the throat.

[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. x vi: Well, here’s down the Irish channel. Varlet, fill up the flagons again.
Irish legs (n.)

heavy female legs.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Irish legs, thick legs, jocularly stiled the Irish arms. It is said of the Irish women, that they have a dispensation from the pope, to wear the thick end of their legs downwards.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1785].
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 21 Sept. 3/1: [of either gender] The steepness of the ascent [...] appears to have been contructed ‘to bidf defiance to all things in this world, save a broad-wheeled wagon or a p[air of Irish legs’.
[US]Maledicta IX 57: Irish legs n [L] Heavy female legs.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.

VI. Pertaining to violence

Irish confetti (n.) [from c.1832 until the adoption of asphalt, NY streets were paved with bricks]

1. (also confetti) bricks, esp. as thrown during riots; cite 1932 refers to a piece of iron.

Gainesville Dly Sun (FL) 1 Aug. 4/1: Who is lacking [...] a good brick, whether it shelters us from the blast of wintrer or comes to us in the form of Irish confettiw .
T.M. Osborne Prison Walls 312: I am personally acquainted with a party who could throw a piece of Irish confetti up in the air, and who, if he didn’t duck, would get it on his conk and be reminded of old times.
[US] in A.E. Kauffman Lost Squadron 68: Kindly check all cabbages, Irish confetti, and decayed henfruit at the door.
[US]Eve. World (NY) 3 Oct. 18/7: On the hudson River yesterday I saw a large flat barge loaded with Irish confetti.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl.
[UK]Hull Dly Mail 10 Aug. 6/3: A piece of iron was produced [...] a woman who said she was of irish descent said she had been struck on the head with it [...] A piece of Irish confetti.
[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 255: It was a real battle – brass-knuckles, blackjacks, lead pipes, studded clubs, Irish confetti.
[US]L. Saxon et al. Gumbo Ya-Ya 50: There will be those who agree and those who will not, and, even at this late date, Irish confetti may fly [DARE].
[US]N.Y. Times 3 Sept. 30: Saskatchewan Confetti [headline] The Saskatchewan Government is building a new brick plant [W&F].
[US]A. Green ‘Dutchman’ in AS XXXV:4 (Dec.) 270: Phrases in this category that I have heard in actual usage in San Francisco building construction and waterfront employment are: [...] Irish confetti.
[UK]Observer (London) 19 June 40/1: An American friend in Amsterdam, describing last week’s riots there, said: ‘There’s just a lot of Irish confetti around.’ .
[US]R.A. Wilson Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 211: Irish confetti. Bricks.
[US]I.L. Allen City in Sl. (1995) 46: The [racial] slur continued with Irish confetti, popular term for paving stones [...] These brickbats were pried loose and thrown as weapons in the mid-nineteenth century street riots of Irish gangs.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
[US]F.X. Toole Pound for Pound 15: Irish confetti – the old mick term for bricks.

2. see also sex compounds above.

3. see also general compounds below.

Irish hoist (n.) [the stereotypically boorish, brawling Irishman]

a kick in the behind.

[US]Yale Literary Mag. VIII 363: Ephraim [...] projected him from the extremity of his indignant foot, through a curved line, which has received the technical appellation, ‘Irish hoist’ [DA].
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish hoist n [DA ca 1800] Kick in the backside; also, an awkward fall; from the stereotype of the crude, brawling Irishman.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 212: Irish hoist. A kick in the pants.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish invitation (n.)

a challenge to a duel.

[UK]Sporting Mag. May IV 119/2: [He] gave him what he terms an Irish invitation to breakfast [...] bread, butter, tea, eggs, and pistols for two.
Irish karate (n.)

(Aus.) the use of a shotgun.

[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read How to Shoot Friends 79: I am the holder of the black belt in Irish karate, skilled in the ancient Irish art of letting go with the sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun through the dunny door, then running like hell.
Irish parliament (n.)

a heated argument.

[US]R.O. Boyer Dark Ship 151: When exchanges become too warm between members of the staff Joe sometimes says, ‘Let’s not have an Irish parliament here!’.
Irish rose (n.)

(US) a stone, for throwing.

[US](con. 1910s) L. Nason A Corporal Once 240: ‘Here’s an Irish Rose for ye, ye blagyard!’ muttered Dugan, and hurled a stone at the shadowy form.
Irish wake (n.)

any boisterous occasion and not necessarily a wake.

[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker II 75: A kind of Irish wake [...] a rael, right down, genuine hysteric frolic, near about as much cryin’ as laughin’.
[US]Maledicta III:2 163: Irish wake n 1: Festive funeral procession 2: Any boisterous affair.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish wedding (n.)

a brawl, ‘where black eyes are given instead of favours’ (Grose 1796).

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: You have been at an Irish wedding, where black eyes are given (instead of) or for favors; saying to one who has a black eye.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.:
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 106: One with a black eye is said to have been ‘at an Irish wedding, where they give black eyes for bride-favours.’.
Holmes Co. republican (Millersburg, OH) 22 Sept. 2/6: At the late Syracuse Convention [...] ‘Irish weddings’ were plenty [...] blows were struck, the wildest excitement prevailed.
[[UK]Edinburgh Eve. News 15 Oct. 4/4: An Irish wedding without a broken head was a very extraordinary thing].
[US]Semi-Wkly Interior Jrnl (Stanford, KY) 23 Jan. 3/2: Looking very much as if her had been to an Irish wedding [...] the horses [...] became frightened [...] and ran off, throwing him out and cutting his head and face.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues IV 14/2: To have danced at an Irish wedding [...] To have got two black eyes.
[US]Lexington Gaz. (VA) 20 Feb. 3/5: Tonight he has a ‘bunged eye’ which reminds one of a souvenir of an Irish wedding.
[US]Jackson Herald (MO) 31 Dec. 1/3: Two of our citizens decided to have a little fun by having an ‘rish wedding’, which caused one to get his eye blackened.

VII. General uses

In compounds

Irish alzheimer’s (n.) (also Irish amnesia)

(US) a supposed disease in which the sufferer forgets everything but their grudges.

[US]N.Y. Post 19 Feb. n.p.: More than four decades of knowing [Richard Harris] — it’s a shock to find out he is suffering from Irish Alzheimer’s disease, where you forget everything except your grudges.
Urban Dict. 15 July [Internet] irish amnesia forgive, but don’t forget.
[US]N.Y. Times 15 Mar. n.p.: Irish Alzheimer’s, goes the joke, is to forget everything but the grudges.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] ‘Do you know about Irish Alzheimer’s?’ Malone asks. [...] ‘You forget everything but the grudges’.
Irish assurance (n.) [like the Greek myth, which proclaims that being dipped in the River Styx gives a child invulnerability, ‘so it is said, that a dipping in the River Shannon totally annihilates bashfulness’ (Grose 1785)]

boldness, shamelessness.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Irish assurance; a bold forward behaviour.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish bargain (n.)

any form of exchange where one side gains disproportionately more than the other; thus no bargain .

[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Farmer 49: ’Pon my Honour, here’s a fine Irish Bargain; all Borrowers but no Lenders.
J. Coad Angling Excursions 93: The tranquillizing expedient of an Irish bargain, that of ‘splitting the difference’.
[UK]Hansard 11 Feb. 505/2: That would be like Sir Boyle Roche’s description of an Irish bargain, where all the mutuality was on one side.
Irish clubhouse (n.)

1. (US) a police station [plays on SE club, association/club to hit, i.e. police violence].

[US]Times (Wash., DC) 22 Aug. 15/6: I meets a boy in blue. I told him how it wuz, and got a wallop with the bat. He drove me over to the Irish clubhouse.
[US]‘Number 1500’ Life In Sing Sing 260: His rod to my nut turned me into the Irish Club House.
[US]J. Sullivan ‘Criminal Sl.’ in Amer. Law Rev. LII (1918) 891: An ‘Irish clubhouse’ is the police station.
[US]G.H. Mullin Adventures of a Scholar Tramp 20: A bull comes round [...] and escorts you to the hoosegow – or Irish Club-house if you prefer a chummy word.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 211: Irish clubhouse. A police station.

2. see also sex compounds above.

Irish cry (n.)

insincerity, crocodile tears (cf. weep Irish v.).

[UK]S. Centlivre Bickerstaff’s Burying n.p.: What the devil can be the matter? Why all this noise? here’s none but friends; I don’t apprehend that anybody can overhear you; this is something like the Irish cry [F&H].
Irish curtains (n.)

(Aus./US) cobwebs.

[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 28 Sept. 2/3: Where’s ‘Long ’Un’ got to? Has he got tangled up in those Irish curtains?
[US] in DARE.
[Aus]N. Keesing Lily on the Dustbin 22: You’ll have rooms ‘all over the place like a madwoman’s breakfast’ and windows festooned with ‘Irish curtains’ (cobwebs).
[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.
Irish draperies (n.)


Times (Philadelphia, PA) 1 Oct. 23/3: [The house] was twined and festooned with Irish draperies [...] We lost no time in christening our new boudoir ‘Cobweb Hall’.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[US]Chicago Trib. 20 Feb. 8/2: It is a surprise [...] to a visitor from Ireland in this country to hear cobwebs alluded to as ‘Irish draperies’ or tatters as Irish fringe.
[US] in J. Gould Maine Lingo.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 211: Irish draperies. Cobwebs.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish evidence (n.)

a perjuring witness; perjury.

[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 1 May 8/2: The Prisoner deny’d the Fact and brought a Tatterdemallion, who like Irish evidence, swore the prisoner was not the Woman came in with the Boy.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 25 Apr. 7/1: Several Irish Evidence appear'd in the Prisoner’s behalf, but the Jury found him Guilty.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 27 Feb. 95/1: You are an Irish evidence.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]R.A. Wilson Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 211: Irish evidence. Perjury.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish necktie (n.)

1. (US) a rope.

[US]United Service Apr. 442: I should have known what is meant by an ‘Irish dividend’ or an ‘Irish necktie’ if I had never been aboard a vessel of war [HDAS].

2. (US) a bearded running along and below the neckline (cf. Newgate collar under Newgate n.

Phila. Inquirer (PA) 19 Sept. 1/3: His upper lip was shaven, but a short gray beard fringed his under jaw in the fashion known as ‘an Irish necktie’.
(ref. to late 19C) Plainfield Courier-News (NJ) 2 June sect. 2 13: [headline] Do You Remember When? You Wore an ‘Irish necktie’?
Irish nightingale (n.)

(US) a bullfrog.

[US]DN II 142: Irish nightingale, n. Bull frog.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.
(ref. to 1850s) S.B. Flexner America Talking 136: In the 1850s [...] humorous terms mocking the Irish began to multiply, as [...] Irish nightingale, a bullfrog (based on the Swedish nightingale Jenny Lind, who made a highly publicized concert tour of America 1850–52).
Irish pasture (n.)

(US) a fainting fit, esp. a pretended one.

[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 451: Irish pasture, A state of coma. ‘I socked that dick into the Irish pasture’.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 107: Irish Pasture. – A faint or coma.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Maledicta III:2 162: Irish pasture n Faint, especially a pretended one.
Irish shift (n.) (also Irish switch) [the supposed propensity of Irish politicians to blow with the prevailing wind; given the year of first use – 1960 – the Irish in question may have been the Kennedys, whose scion John was elected president that year]

(US) political hypocrisy.

[US]Maledicta III:2 163: Irish shift; Irish switch n [Cray 1960] Political hypocrisy; pretense.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
Irish short cut (n.)

a route that appears longer but is supposedly really quicker.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 147: The taxi driver tells him he’s gonna take an Irish short cut — it’s longer but it’s quicker.
Irish tatters (n.)

(US) the tattered edge of a garment or piece of fabric.

[US]Chicago Trib. 20 Feb. 8/2: It is a surprise [...] to a visitor from Ireland in this country to hear cobwebs alluded to as ‘Irish draperies’ or tatters as Irish fringe.
Irish twins (n.) [the stereotypical fecundity – and lack of contraceptive practice – of trad. Irish families]

(US) two siblings born within a 12-month period.

Louisville Dly Courier (KY) 4 June 2/2: [used fig. of combining a job with childcare] We find ourselves quite unequal to the task of managing our Irish twins. So long as the Visitor [a newspaper] was our only baby we did not find the nursing and tending of it [...] a very difficult matter [...] but since baby Nettie has come [etc].
[US]Leavenworth Times (KS) 5 June 7/3: Queen Victoria sends £5 o every English mother on the occasion of her first twins. Doubtless she does not feel that it is incumbent upon her to offer a dollar premium for Irish twins.
C.V. Tevis Hist. of the Fighting Fourteenth 223: There were about ten children, Irish twins, i. e., about one year difference in their ages, and they were allowed to run wild, as dirty as pigs.
[US]L.A. Times 25 Apr. C13/4: These mental gymnastics are humanized by her activities as the mother of seven children, including ‘Irish twins,’ born less than a year apart.
[US]Wash. Post 18 Nov. D1/3: My sons are so-called ‘Irish twins,’ two days less than a year apart, but physically and emotionally they are opposites.
[US]A.M. Greeley Happy Meek 194: Margaret and Wolfe Junior were Irish twins, born eleven months apart [DARE].
Pennsylvania Intelligencer (Boylestown, PA) 23 Oct. C1/6: Having two children as close as 10 to 18 months is comparable to having unequal twins, and they are even called ‘Irish twins’.

SE in general slang uses

In phrases

as Irish as Paddy Murphy’s pig (also as Irish as paddy’s pig)

quintessentially Irish.

Topeka Dly Capital (KS) 24 Nov. 12/5: [advert] Table Napkins. All as Irish as Paddy’s pig, but a little more white, every thread pure linen.
Eve. Transcript (San Bernadino, CA) 9 Nov. 2/5: Byrne and Chambers, while not quite as Irish as Paddy’s pig, still have a warm feeling for ‘Ould Ireland’.
[US]L.A. Times 17 Apr. 20/1: English your grandmother! She is as Irish as Paddy Murphy’s pig.
Newton Enterprise (NC) 4 May 4/3: The clan O’Hara, as sturdy stock as ever sprang from the ‘ould sod’and ‘as Irish as Paddy’s pig’.
[US]Harrisburg Teleg. (PA) 8 July 24/1: ‘I am as Irish as Paddy Murphy’s pig and I want to get back among the Irish’.
D. Runyon Runyon Says [synd. col.] Mr John ‘Beans’ Reardon, slim, dapper, and as Irish as Paddy’s pig.
St Cloud Times (MN) 6 Feb. 4/3: In the senate there are at least 17 names as unmistakeably Irish as Paddy’s pig. [...] Guffey, Donahey, Lonergan, [etc].
Morn. News (Wilmington, DE) 10 Mar. 16/6: The celebration of St Patrick’s day isn’t limited to those who are ‘as Irish as Paddy’s pig’.
Hartford Courant (CT) 21 Jan. 18/1: Concerning the nationalities of last night’s cast [...] They may be as Irish as Paddy Murphy’s pig [but] they fail to ring the bell.
Hartford Courant (CT) 11 June 6/9: James Ahern as [...] the timid suitor, is as Irish as Paddy Murphy’s pig.
Miami News (FL) 28 Apr. 2C/2: The Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin, who as the saying goes, is as Irish as Paddy’s pig.
Pesacola News Jrnl (FL) 27 June 39/1: The name O’Reilly is as Irish as Paddy Murphy’s pig.
Morn. Call (Allentown, PA) 8 Mar. 29/7: Here’s something as Irish as ‘Paddy’s pig.’ Mulligan Stew.
[UK]N. Beagley Up and Down Under 38: Our respective bosses [...] were as Irish as Paddy’s pig.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 600/1: from ca. 1890.
[US]Christian Science Monitor 27 Feb. [Internet] So there was a young man who lived in South Boston, Mass., and he was as Irish as Paddy Murphy’s pig.
[US](con. 1954) ‘Jack Tunney’ Tomato Can Comeback [ebook] I was able to get Father Tim Brophy on the line. He sounded Irish as Paddy’s pig.