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DerivationProto-Celtic *tazgj-o-
Meaningpoet, philosopher, storyteller
Other names
Short form(s)Tad[1]
Pet form(s)Tadhgie
Cognate(s)Tadgh, Taigh, Taidgh, Tighe, Tigue, Teague, Taig, Ty

Tadhg (alternative spellings include Tadgh[2][3][4] and Tadg[5][6]) (English /tɡ/, /tɡ/ or /tɡ/; Irish [t̪ˠəiɡ]),[7] is an Irish and Scottish Gaelic masculine name that was very common when the Goidelic languages predominated, to the extent that it is a synecdoche for Irish-speaking man. The name signifies "poet" or "philosopher". This was also the name of many Gaelic Irish kings from the 10th to the 16th centuries, particularly in Connacht and Munster. Tadhg is most common in south-west Ireland, particularly in County Cork and County Kerry.

The name has enjoyed a surge in popularity recently; in 2005 it was the 69th most common name for baby boys and in 2010 the 40th, according to the Central Statistics Office in Ireland.[8]


The commonly accepted meaning of Tadhg is "poet"[9] or "storyteller". The ultimate derivation is from the Celtic *tazg(j)o-, who were poets in early Celtic society. In any case, the name is widely attested in Gaulish and early British names.

When the whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, many Irish names and place-names were given English meanings. Due to similarity in sound, Tadhg is often listed as an Irish equivalent of the Christian names Thaddeus, Timothy (Tim) or sometimes Thomas, but these names are not actually related.

The name is also spelled "Taḋg" in the Irish uncial alphabet with an overdot over the d to indicate it is lenited; the "dh" serves a similar purpose in the modern spelling. Tadhg has been popularly anglicized as "Tighe" and "Teague". Alternative spellings are "Tadgh", "Taigh", "Taidgh" (found in North London).

Tadhg is also a synecdoche and was once so common as an Irish name that it became synonymous with the typical Irishman in the same way that Paddy or Mick might be today. Hence, Irish phrases such as Tadhg an mhargaidh (lit: Tadhg of the market) or Tadhg na sráide (lit: Tadhg of the street) are similar to the English language expression "average Joe" or "the man on the street"[10]

Modern history[edit]

Williamite and Jacobite[edit]

In the late 1680s, the name "Taig" appears in the satirical Williamite ballad Lillibullero, which includes the line: "Ho brother Taig hast thou heard the decree?" In 1698, John Dunton wrote a mocking account of Ireland, titled Teague Land – or A Ramble with the Wild Irish. Thereafter, the derogatory use of the term was frequent.[citation needed]

However, there is also evidence from this era of the name continuing to be used as a source of pride for assertive Gaelic Irish people. An Irish language Jacobite poem written in the 1690s includes the following lines:

"You Popish rogue", ní leomhaid a labhairt sinn
acht "Cromwellian dog" is focal faire againn
nó "cia sud thall" go teann gan eagla
"Mise Tadhg" géadh teinn an t-agallamh[11]


"You Popish rogue" is not spoken
but "Cromwellian dog" is our watchword,
"Who goes there" does not provoke fear,
"I am Tadhg" is the answer given

Although the term has rarely been used in North America, a notable example of such use was when John Adams successfully defended the British Army soldiers responsible for the 1770 Boston Massacre by pleading to the jury that the soldiers were acting in self-defence against:

... most probably a motley rabble of saucy boys, negros and molattoes, Irish Teagues and outlandish jack tarrs. —And why we should scruple to call such a set of people a mob, I can't conceive, unless the name is too respectable for them:[12]

"Taig" and the Troubles[edit]

In the context of segregation in Northern Ireland and sectarianism in Glasgow, the term "Taig" is used as a derogatory term for a Roman Catholic, used by Northern Irish Protestants and Ulster loyalists.[10][13] In this sense it is used in a similar way to the word Fenian, but is more ethnic in terms of abuse against people of Gaelic descent than "Fenian", which more commonly signifies Irish republican. Extremist loyalists have also used in graffiti slogans such as "Kill All Taigs" (KAT) and "All Taigs Are Targets".[13]

List of people[edit]


Gaelic nobility[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hanks, P.; Hardcastle, K.; Hodges, F. (2006). A Dictionary of First Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-861060-1. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  2. ^ Nash, J. (2006). New Essays on Maria Edgeworth. Ashgate Pub. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-7546-5175-8. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  3. ^ Coghlan, P. (1998). Irish Names for Children. Mercier Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-85635-214-7. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  4. ^ Moser, J.P. (2013). Irish Masculinity on Screen: The Pugilists and Peacemakers of John Ford, Jim Sheridan and Paul Greengrass. MCFARLAND & Company Incorporated. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7864-7416-5. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  5. ^ Mountain, H. (1998). The Celtic Encyclopedia. 4. Universal Publishers. p. 991. ISBN 978-1-58112-893-2. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  6. ^ Mike Campbell. "Behind the Name: Meaning, origin and history of the name Tadg". behindthename.com. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  7. ^ "Teague, Taig". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) (pronunciations given for the name Tadgh separately from those for the slang/pejorative Teague)
  8. ^ Irish Babies' Names 2010, Central Statistics Office
  9. ^ Babies' Names, Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-19-211647-9, entry for "Tadhg"
  10. ^ a b A Way With Words, Taig
  11. ^ Céad buidhe re Dia ("A hundred thanks to God") by Diarmaid Mac Cárthaigh
  12. ^ "Summation of John Adams" in Rex v. Wemms. umkc.edu. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  13. ^ a b Conflict Archive on the Internet. "A Glossary of Terms Related to the Conflict".
  14. ^ "Tadg: What Is The Meaning of the Name Tadg? Analysis Numerology Origin". whatisthemeaningofname.com. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  15. ^ George MacDonald Fraser (1 December 2011). Flashman's Lady (The Flashman Papers, Book 3). HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-00-744949-1.
  16. ^ Lance Pettitt (2000). Screening Ireland: Film and Television Representation. Manchester University Press. pp. 124–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5270-5.

External links[edit]