Words We Get From Gaelic

Words We Get From GaelicThis was requested by a reader after “Gaelic Tuesdays!” It’s really just a bunch of words, mostly colloquial ones, which come from Gaelic. There are a couple of words which are in common (universal) English vocabulary, and a couple which are only used (in Australia) in placenames. Since it’s hard to tell whether words come from Scottish or Irish Gaelic, I’ve used the Scottish spelling as much as possible. If it’s Irish (Gaeilge), I’ve specified it.

Ben (as in Ben Lomond, Tasmania) – from “beinn” (say ‘bine’) for “mountain”

Bog (as in marshland) – from “bog” (say ‘pok’) for “soft”

Britches – from Gaeilge “bríste” for “pants” or “trousers”

Bunny (rabbit) – from “bun” for “rabbit warren” (not much used anymore)

Burn (as in Burnside, South Australia) – from “burn” (say ‘boorun’) for “water” or “river”

Cack – from “cac” for “excrement” (particularly in the phrase, “to cack oneself laughing”)

Cheerio – from “tìoraidh” (short for “tìoraidh an drasta” – say ‘cheery un drosta’) for “see you later”

Clan – from “clann” (say ‘clown’) for “family”

Down – from “dun” for “below”

Drongo – from “drongan” for “layabout, idiot, drunk”

Freckle – from “breac” (say ‘preck’) for “speckled” or “spotted”

Gabble – from “cabadaich” for “chattering”

Galore – from “gu leor” for “until plenty”

Gob – from “gob” (say ‘kop’) for “beak” or “bill”

Grotty – from “grod” (say ‘krot’) for “rotten”

Hubbub – from “ubub” (say ‘up-up’) for “tsk-tsk”

Pet – from “peata” (say ‘petta’) for “tame animal”

Phoney – from “fàinne” for “ring” (there’s a long story for this one that I can’t quite remember)

Shoot (when telling someone to go ahead, as in to ask a question or something) – from “siuthad” (say ‘shoo-ut’) for “go on!”

Slew (as in “a slew of new products”) – from Gaeilge “sluagh” for “a large number”

Slob – from “slaba” (say ‘slawpa’) for “mud”

Slop (as in bad food) – from “slaba” (say ‘slawpa’) for “mud”

Slogan – from “sluagh-ghaim” for “battle-cry”

Slug (as in “to slug a drink”) – from Gaeilge “slog” for “gulp”

Smashing (great!) – from “‘s math sin” for “that’s good”

Smidgen – from “smidean” (say ‘smid-jen’) for “very small bit”

Smithereens – from Gaeilge “smidiríní” for “fragments” or “shards”

Snazzy – from “snasail” (say ‘snassy’) for “elegent” or “neat”

Strath (as in Strathalbyn, South Australia) – from “srath” for “wide valley”

Tack – from “tak” for “take”

Trousers – from “triubhas” for “pants” or “trousers”

Twig (as in “to twig on to something”) – from “tuig” for “understand”

Whiskey – from “uisge” for “water”

Obviously there are a lot I haven’t included. I may have made some mistakes, because my Gàidhlig isn’t terribly good and I don’t have any Gaeilge.


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