Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Irish Loanwords: Part 2

Today we're going to conclude our look at some of the greatest lexical contributions Irish has made to the English language. You can find Part 1 here.

A beautiful bog in Ireland.
Bog - Did you know that there are four main types of wetlands and bogs are one of them? Their name comes from the Irish word bogach, which is derived from the Irish adjective bog which aptly means "soft, moist".

Galore - It's so much more fun to say that there are "cookies galore" than just saying there's "an abundance of cookies". This wonderful term comes from the Irish go leor meaning "enough" or "sufficient".

Kibosh - If someone wants you stop doing something, they may tell you to "put the kibosh" on it. While it means "to finish" or "to end" in English, its origins are murky. Some believe it could be Yiddish based on its appearance, but others suggest it comes from the Irish term caip bháis meaning "cap of death", likely a reference to the black cap judges would wear when they sentenced someone to death.

Phony - You can spell it phoney as well, but either way it means something that is fake. It is thought to come from the English term fawney, which in turn came from the Irish word fainne meaning "ring".

Slogan - Despite the term being appropriated by politicians and businesses to refer to a distinctive phrase associated with them, this word originally meant "battle cry"! The Irish term sluagh-ghairm referred to battle cries used by Gaelic clans long ago.

Whiskey - First of all, it's spelled whiskey when you're referring to the product from Ireland, or if you're speaking American English. Otherwise, including when you're referring to the Scottish drink, it's spelled whisky. Now that we've gotten that spelling issue out of the way, you should know that the word came from the Latin aqua vitae, meaning "water of life", which was then translated into Irish as uisce beatha and Gaelic as uisge beatha. An apt name, of course!