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Pronunciation /ˈʃməs/
Irish: [ˈʃeːməs]
Gender Male
Word/name Gaelic
Meaning "he supplanted" or "substitute"
Region of origin Ireland, Scotland, Irish diaspora, Scottish diaspora, Scottish Gaelic, Scottish Kings
Other names
Related names Hamish, James, Jamie, Seumas

Séamus (Irish pronunciation: [ˈʃeːməs]), is a Gaelic male first name of Latin origin. It is the Gaelic equivalent of the name James. The name James is the English New Testament variant for the Hebrew name Jacob. It entered the Irish and Scottish Gaelic languages from the French variation of the late Latin name for Jacob, Iacomus; a dialect variant of Iacobus, from the New Testament Greek Ἰάκωβος (Iákōvos), and ultimately from Hebrew word יעקב (Yaʻaqov), i.e. Jacob. Its meaning in Hebrew is "one who supplants" or more literally "one who grabs at the heel". When the Hebrew patriarch Jacob was born, he was grasping his twin brother Esau's heel.

Variant spellings include Seamus, Séamas, Seumas, Seumus, Shaymus, Sheamus and Shamus. Diminutives include Séimí, Séimín and Séamaisín. In the United States, the word "Shamus" is a derogatory American slang [1] misspelling of Séamus that arose during the 19th century as more than 4.5 million Irish immigrated to America, peaking at almost two million between 1845 and 1852 during "The Great Hunger", (Irish: An Gorta Mór). Irish immigrants found employment in the police departments, fire departments and other public services of major cities, largely in the Northeast and around the Great Lakes. By 1855, according to New York Police Commissioner George W. Matsell (1811–1877) [2], almost 17 percent of the police department's officers were Irish-born (compared to 28.2 percent of the city) in a report to the Board of Aldermen;[3] of the NYPD's 1,149 men, Irish-born officers made up 304 of 431 foreign-born policemen.[4] In the 1860s more than half of those arrested in New York City were Irish born or of Irish descent but nearly half of the city's law enforcement officers were also Irish. By the turn of the 20th century, five out of six NYPD officers were Irish born or of Irish descent. As late as the 1960s, 42% of the NYPD were still Irish Americans.[5] Though still used by some as a derogatory term, the great preponderance of Irish and Irish-American law enforcement officers led to a persisting stereotype, and the name "Shamus" continues to refer to Irish-American police and private detectives.

Given name[edit]


  1. ^ [0814752187 "Racism"] Check |url= value (help). 2008-03-31. Retrieved 2018-03-03. 
  2. ^ 1951-, Newton, Michael, (2007). The encyclopedia of American law enforcement. New York: Facts On File. ISBN 0816062900. OCLC 122272111. 
  3. ^ James., Lardner, (2000). NYPD : a city and its police. Reppetto, Thomas A. (1st ed ed.). New York: Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 080506737X. OCLC 43487305. 
  4. ^ Edward., Wakin, (2002). Enter the Irish-American. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse. ISBN 0595227309. OCLC 206869992. 
  5. ^ Patterns of provocation : police and public disorder. Bessel, Richard., Emsley, Clive., European Centre for the Study of Policing. New York: Berghahn Books. 2000. ISBN 1571812288. OCLC 43114240. 

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