Talk:List of English words of Irish origin

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Is there a distinction to be drawn between Hiberno-English words, i.e. only understood within Ireland, and words originating in Ireland but now part of standard English? Since the former may be listed on that page, is there a need to list them here too, or indeed should they be moved here?

As stated, crack is not originally Irish; similarly smithereens is from English smithers with Irish diminutive suffix -een.

Some of the origins seem dubious folk etymologies .

Have added "Tory" (robber, outlaw) -- couldn't resist it -- but I agree with the comments above to the effect that the list as it stands is a bit of a hotchpotch... -- Picapica 21:40, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)
  • I think that there should probably be two different pages; one for words that have passed from the Irish language and the Irish language alone into the English of other countries; and one to list expressions, regardless of their origin, that are currently or in the past were in currency in Ireland. (There are plenty of words-- ludán and latchico come to mind-- that are hardly never heard but on the tongues of those of Irish decent. IINAG 10:22, 4 July 2005 (UTC)

Scottish Gaelic[edit]

A number of these words are cognate with Scottish Gaelic - certainly "loch" is how it's spelled in Scotland... are we certain that these all came to English via Irish Gaelic? - Donnchadh mac Alasdair —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:15, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Using Wikipedia as a source to back up what I had learned in my studies: "Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish, and thus descends ultimately from Old Irish." I had heard that the Gaelic Scots were descended from early Irish immigrants. But the words do seem likely to have filtered into English from their interaction with the Scots. Galliv (talk) 05:19, 20 August 2013 (UTC)


An editor (it doesn't matter who) recently added a bunch of edits speculating on the origins of some of these words. While I think much of the additions are dubious, it occured to me as I considered reverting that none of this article, or very little, is sourced or references. As such I added the {{{sources}}} template, and will leave it be, but as of now it is a mix of possibly useful information and outright misinformation, casting doubt on the whole thing. -- Gnetwerker 18:25, 10 May 2006 (UTC)


Crack or rather crak is a Scots word, which found its way into Irish Gaelic under the spelling of craic. It probably came to Ireland with the Plantation of Ulster and as many other Scots words has become part of everyday speak by both sides of the community such as other Scots words like scundered, foundered, thieving, plastered etc. Mabuska 23:56, 9 September 2007 (UTC)


Would it be a good idea to separate the list into sections alphabetically? akarkera 09:27, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I (and others I hope) think so, and now added. User:SeanMacGC 21:15, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

SLC a questionable source?[edit]

Since the book SLC is written by someone with an obvious bias, that represents a questionable source and should only be accepted where it can be backed by other reputable sources (OED etc).

Caca from Irish? - only to someone who never studied Latin! I wonder if some of these "Irish" words are actually derived from words in other languages, such as Latin, and SLC fails to realize the historic origins. Michael Daly 20:39, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I have used SLC as a reference, where SLC itself will in turn have used the OED and Dineen (inter alia) as references. I would take issue with the 'obvious bias' comment, have you actually read the book? I would interpret this as something of a slur on the academic integrity of the author, whose book has just been awarded the American Book Award for Nonfiction. There's a difference between obvious interest and obvious bias.
Doubtless that Latin is at the root of many words in many languages, but this topic concerns the specific (Gaelic) route of any word's path into the English Language, not necessarily the ab initio manifestation. User:SeanMacGC 10:35, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
I should have said obvious interest - nonetheless, such an award is not necessarily an acknowledgement of quality of research, only of presentation.
I won't buy the immediate assumption that since Latin-Irish-English is possible that it is necessarily the only or the prominent route. Some of these derivations seem a little too contrived, and the most contrived seem to have SLC as the source. Hence my scepticism. Michael Daly 20:04, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps it be no coincidence that the "most contrived" are also the most numerous... by far. By simple force of numbers is it not unreasonable that there will be a majority of apparent 'contrived' derivations? Here is the entry for "caca" in full, literatim, verbatim, from SLC:

Caca, n., excrement, shit; often used as a euphemism in presence of children.
Caca, gen. as attrib.adj. of cac, excrement, filth;fig. shit; rud caca, a dirty, shitty thing. (Dineen, 145.)

The Irish cac and caca are probably derived from the Latin caco, to void excrement. (Cassell's Latin-English Dictionary, 76.) Seamus an Chaca (Seamus the Shit) was the moniker given to James II of England, a royal "chicken" caca, who abandoned his beleaguered Irish army on the Boyne River in June 1690.

There are few entries in SLC that do not have a similarly expansive etymological derivation -- what I have furnished so far on this topic are merely the distilled results, not the rationale and reasoning behind those derivations; Professor Cassidy has provided those.

User:SeanMacGC 10:50, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

But none of that shows that the word entered English from Irish and not directly from Latin. If Latin influenced both English and Irish, that proves nothing about any purported link between Irish and English. It would take a greater bit of detective work to demonstrate that Irish speakers popularized the word in the greater English community in several regions (e.g. England and America). Parallel and serial are two very different things. Cassidy wouldn't be the first to "prove" how his favourite culture influenced the world by showing coincidences.
As far as the number of examples coming from SLC, a good bit of this article looks like it is just copied from the book. That is not scholarship on the part of this article, just plagiarism. Hence my comment on requiring second sources stands - unless this is independently verified, it does not make for a good article entry. Michael Daly 16:47, 12 October 2007 (UTC)
Cassidy has quoted references, how that can be interpreted as plagiarism is quite beyond me... that's what reference books are for! England and America, the two destinations in the world that the Irish emigrated to in greatest numbers, coincidence? And caca was in the Irish language when those same people emigrated -- there was no caca in English before that, fact. Timelines are important here. Incidentally, SLC has been peer reviewed, fully. User:SeanMacGC 21:00, 12 October 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by SeanMacGC (talkcontribs)

Block and bealach make no sense. Bealach means way or route (e.g. a (now-small) road in Kerry is called an bealach béama - the "main route), whereas in geographic terms "block" arrived on the scene due to the way modern US cities were built - in regular shaped blocks. While the author of SLC may have found references to support his conclusions, I doubt the applicability of the references he's found based on the examples shown here. As someone from Ireland, a lot of this looks like a massive stretch. 11:58, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Do you not think that you might be just a little too literal here? Bealach --> a road, a path, a way, a passage, a thoroughfare --> a city street, a city road --> a main city street or city road defining a block, i.e., what's the demarcating feature of a block? If it were simply due to the way that modern US cities were designed and built (and block existed before the grid pattern of modern US cities), why wouldn't they be categorised as something more reflective of the reality?

--SeanMacGC 19:49, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Michael Daly. Cassidy has a bad reputation amongst linguists as a reliable source. For instance, the derivation of "spiel" from Irish rather than German is patently ludicrous. I propose removing all entries that don't check out when compared with the etymologies in the OED (or similarly well-respected English dictionary). --Folantin (talk) 14:07, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Cassidy has a terrible reputation among linguists:

Dismissing these critiques as anti-Irish bias is preposterous -- Cassidy makes blatant errors for words with well-established etymologies (c.f. bunkum), and has rampant sourcing issues. It's supposition, not scholarship, and should not be used as a source on par with the OED. (talk) 18:17, 17 January 2008 (UTC)


Many of the words here appear to be attributed as a result of supposition. Many of them seem incredible. This "article" needs to be better sourced, and a better etymology of the words given or be deleted. It completely lacks academic veracity or credibility, and stinks of the tall stories of some Irish bloke in a bar.

So, at the moment it's just another steaming pile of wikiality, and should not be trusted at all in any way. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:04, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm going to remove all the entries sourced to Cassidy as well as some of the others which are more likely to come from Welsh or Scottish Gaelic. I've also limited this to words derived from the Irish (Gaelic) language. We already have a list of "dialect" words at Hiberno-English. --Folantin (talk) 18:38, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree this needs to be better sourced. Has anyone considered the inherent problems with using English sources entirely? It seems to rely heavily on the OED. It's fine to use that as a starting point, but the words need to be checked in Irish sources as well. As an editor (in English) for 35 years, I found the OED very reliable...for English words. Once I started studying Irish, I became aware of its drawbacks: a subtle bias and seeming unwillingness to attribute any word to an Irish source. Some very obvious Irish words are listed as "uncertain source". While etymology can be tricky due to 1000 years of mixing the two peoples, it can't have all been a one way street. Galliv (talk) 05:11, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

pointless trivia?[edit]

Whoever added "Bard" to this list has to my mind raised a very pertinent point - this word is attributed as originally from old Irish, Scots, Welsh and Celtic. I presume this means it's a word which was in use in all of Britain (including England) from before the beginnings of the English language and therefore most likely spoken by English-British people from the start. Therefore NOT a word of Irish origin adopted by English speakers but a word common in the roots of both languages.

You could say the same of many other entries on this page and it all starts to look a bit pointless ( ... apart from the obvious accusation that it's an incomplete collection of trivia).

I don't wish to denigrate someone's best efforts to provide an interesting article, but until this is straightened out by an expert it remains the sort of article which gets Wikipedia a bad name. Sure there are constant linguistic arguments about where/whether lines are drawn between languages and this article will never be free form them, but at the moment it seems to me way off the mark. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:01, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

"Bard" is thought to have come from the Proto-Celtic word "bardo". You're right, it's not specifically Irish, though I don't know if it was part of the (Celtic) Brythonic vocabularies. The reason for this word's common attribution as Irish probably has to do with the importance of the bardic culture in Ireland throughout its history.
Personally, I would like to see more words on this page, but better research.Galliv (talk) 05:49, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Proposed deletion of Bard, Callow and Shanty[edit]

The following etymology dictionaries are currently available for free online: Etymology Dictionary by Ayto (2005), Etymololgy Dictionary by Harper (2001), Etymology Dictionary by Partridge (1966), Etymology Dictionary by Weekley (1921), Etymology Dictionary by Skeat (1888). Also available online is the concise version of the Oxford English Dictionary. On the basis of these six dictionaries, I propose to delete bard, callow, shanty from the list of words of Irish Gaelic origin.

Bard. In short, English bard primarily comes from popular ancient Latin writings that have bardus = poet. Bard is an ancient Celtic word. Welsh bardd and Breton barz mean 'poet-singer'. Scottish Gaelic bard entered Scottish English in mid-15th century with the meaning of 'vagabond minstrel'. However the modern literary meaning of bard is 17th century and is derived from -- or at least strongly influenced by -- the ancient Greek bardos and Latin bardus (e.g. used by the poet Lucan, 1st century AD), which in turn come from the Gaulish language. The word bard appears in modern French, Spanish, Italian, German and other European languages and I believe this widespreadness is due to its presence in the Greek and Latin, not English. But in any case, none of the etymology dictionaries give the English word bard a demonstrable descent from Irish Gaelic, even though several of them mention the co-existence of the Irish Gaelic word. The demonstrable descent is from Scottish Gaelic and Latin. (See also the comment by earlier on this page.)

callow: All the above etymology dictionaries say callow descends from Old English calu = ‘bald’. They also say this old english word is probably West Germanic, and point to cognates in Old Friesan, Dutch and German. They do not point to any Irish connection. The Wikipedia article cites the Oxford English Dictionary as saying that callow is "cognate with the Irish calbh (bald), and is a particularly Irish usage (OED)." -- bear in mind that "cognate" does not mean originating from. I haven't looked at the full-length OED, but the concise OED that's free online says callow's origin is "Old English, "bald", probably from Latin calvus ‘bald’, later "unfledged""; see Similarly see Furthermore the meaning of callow as "a water-meadow" in the Wikipedia article is not supported by any of the dictionaries.

This is irrelevant to question of including 'callow' or not, as I agree that the word seems to derive from Old English, but the use of the term to mean a water-meadow (or accurately, an 'alluvial flat') does exist in dictionaries and there is a specifically Irish connection. The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia (on-line at [1]) defines 'callow' as 'an alluvial flat along a water-course: a term used by writers on Irish geology and agriculture' while the callows on the river Shannon are well known: Shannon Callows. Perhaps, this word is Hiberno-English rather than Irish derived. However, there are also callows in English place-names. I mostly mention this because I'm not very happy with the dictionaries you are using (see comments on fiacre and tilly below) (Wohz (talk) 17:24, 2 July 2014 (UTC))

Shanty. Here are quotes from the various dictionaries about Shanty: Quote 1: "Shanty: In Canadian French, chantier takes the sense ‘hut, or small, rough, temporary dwelling’: whence English shanty."ref1. Quote 2: "Shanty: rough cabin, first recorded 1820, from French Canadian chantier "lumberjack's headquarters," in French, "timberyard, dock," from Old French chantier "gantry," from Latin cantherius "rafter, frame".ref2. Quote 3: "Shanty: a small, crudely built shack. Origin perhaps from Canadian French chantier ‘lumberjack’s cabin, logging camp’"ref3. Quote 4: "Shanty = Hut. Origin in US & Canada. Perhaps corruption of French chantier, workshop, used in Canada of woodcutters' forest quarters. Cf. shantyman = lumberman, Canadian French homme de chantier (see gantry). Others derive it from Irish sean toig, old house."ref4. Quote 5: "Shanty, meaning ‘shack’, originated in America, and the fact that to begin with it was mainly used for the houses of Irish immigrants suggests that it MAY have come from Irish sean tig 'old house'."ref5. It's wrong to derive it from "old house" because there's unanimity that it originated in America at a time when there were very few old houses to be found and the population was growing explosively; and the plain meaning of the word is a roughly built house, not an old house. In all those etymology books I saw no report of any evidence that Gaelic speakers in America used the word nor any evidence of them passing it on to English speakers. Most of the books don't even mention the Irish hypothesis for Shanty, and the remainder say it's merely speculative and unproved. Note that use of the word Shanty has been dated to 1820 at latest, whereas Irish Catholic immigrants were not very numerous nor very poor in America prior to that date, and most of them were able to speak English and spoke English. (They tended to come from the east and southeast counties in Ireland; the Irish western counties didn't start emigrating until the 1840s). Based on what's said in the etymology books, Americans used their own word Shanty to describe the housing they observed some poorer people living in, and didn't borrow that word from the people who were living there -- and more often than not the people living there were not Irish immigrants, I may add.

As an aside, I believe that slob is not an Irish Gaelic word either. That's based on the lengthy treatment of the subject in Walter Skeat's etymology dictionary at [2]. However, the OED believes it is has an Irish Gaelic origin, and I don't want to get into a fight where the OED could be marshaled aginst me. All dictionaries including the OED say that slobber and slobbery are not of Irish Gaelic origin, but the OED says that slob is etymologically a different word from slobbery. I believe the meaning "untidy person" (first recorded in 1861) is surely derived from slobbery and surely not of Gaelic origin. (As for the "mud" meaning for slob, it looks like it's probably Old English in origin as well.) Seanwal111111 (talk) 21:33, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Proposed deletion of six words from the list[edit]

I propose to delete the following six words from the list. My sources are the same half a dozen dictionaries I cited earlier on this page concerning the deletion of "shanty".

Alannah: This word is not in any of the dictionaries. Therefore (1) it's not an English word and (2) you can't cite a standard reference saying it's of Gaelic origin. According to Wikipedia, "Alannah is a given first name for a person, which has disputed origins: It can be either derived from the Old High German word for "precious" or from the Irish language term "a leanbh" or "child".

Baltimore: This is purely a placename (the internal link goes to the city in Maryland). The list excludes placenames, so Baltimore should be excluded likewise.

Drum: The Gaelic "drum" isn't in English; only "drumlin" is in English.

Fiacre: Once again, I cannot find this word in English dictionaries. Fiacre is a word in French, now more or less archaic, which is said to come from the name of an Irish-born saint. But it does not exist in English.

This is certainly a more-or-less archaic word as most words for types of horse-drawn carriage are, but it does exist in English. Wiktionary includes a quotation from a Rebecca West novel, wordnik has several citations in its entry for 'fiacre', and it's in the Oxford Dictionaries Online. (Wohz (talk))

Puck: This word is in Old English. Therefore it couldn't be from Irish. Cognate words are seen in Old Germanic languages, e.g. puk in Friesian and puki in Old Norse. There are also cognates in Welsh, Cornish and Irish, but that in no way implies the word entered English from Irish. (Also, the meaning in Irish is not the same as in Old English and modern English. Also, in relatively recent centuries the Irish meaning may have been affected by the English).

tocher: This is not a word in standard English dictionaries. The source cited by the Wikipedia article is "The Concise Scots Dictionary", implying it's found in Scots dialect English. According to the Wikipedia article, this dictionary says the word is from "Old Irish". "Old Irish" can be either Scottish or Irish -- there was no distinction between the two in the writings of olden times, and more than half of "Old Irish" writings were produced in Scotland. So this word "tocher" fails to qualify for the list because it's not in English and it's not from Irish in the narrower sense.

cross: This entry can stay but it needs more comment. If it's true that "Cross" comes from Old Irish, it needs to be commented that Old Irish is both Scottish and Irish Gaelic. It needs to be commented as well that Cross may not come from Old Irish. Here's what Weekley says about it:

The adoption of the Roman gibbet as symbol of Christianity has resulted in Latin crux, critc-, giving French croix, Spanish cruz, German kreuz, and late Anglo-Saxon cruc, replacing earlier rood. From Anglo-Saxon cruc comes Middle English cruche, but this was gradually superseded by northern [Middle English] cross, from late Anglo-Saxon cros (seen in north country place-names), from Old Norse kross. In southern Middle English, crois, from Old French, was the usual form.

No Gaelic origin theory there. Note that the difference is very subtle and almost non-existent between the Middle English southern form crois (certainly from French crois) and the northern form cross (reportedly from Old Norse kross). Skeat says that modern Cross is from the Old French crois, and not from Gaelic, and that the Gaelic word was croich (thus disagreeing with this Wikipedia article's statement that the Old Irish form was cros).

During the conversions of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, Gaelic-speaking Christian missionaries were active in the northern areas of England and southern Scotland (far less so in southern England). I think that's why it's supposed that the English northern form cross may come from Gaelic. But the etymology dictionaries that report a Gaelic source also say the northern form comes, or probably comes, from Old Norse kross (despite the fact that the Old Norsemen weren't Christians) and the latter comes from Old Irish. See e.g. That makes no sense to me. The Harper says that English Cross probably comes from Scandinavian and then the Scandinavian comes from Old Irish cros. I don't know how he gets that result, but in any case his word "probably" there, and all that I've said above, indicate to me that adoption of the word into English from Gaelic sources is poorly documented, involves guesswork, and is uncertain. By the way, none of the other Old English Christianity words have Old Irish source theories; see e.g. god spell (gospel), calic (chalice), cirice (church), maesse (Mass).

Tilly: This word is not used in Ireland in the sense stated. It appears to be a colloquialism confined to Newfoundland.

I'm removing the claim that this is confined to Newfoundland. This is a word my parents used with me growing up in Ireland and, although I cannot cite myself (I guess), I will add a comment about James Joyce naming one of his poems 'Tilly'. (Wohz (talk))

Merger proposal[edit]

I can't imagine the List of English words of Old Irish origin getting a great number of entries. Old Irish is certainly a different language from Irish, but keeping these words in their own section on this page would set them apart well enough. --Leif Runenritzer (talk) 04:20, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Somehow I missed this debate but fair enough, I don't object. However, the page seems to have been turned into a redirect without the entries having been moved or am I not getting something? Akerbeltz (talk) 15:53, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
There were only three entires on the Old Irish page (cross, dulse, tocher) but they've all been moved over. ~Asarlaí 15:55, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
So they have - my apologies. Akerbeltz (talk) 16:12, 28 May 2010 (UTC)


    • I have removed the assertion that "kybosh" was "International English" as opposed to "kibosh," supposedly American English. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, s.v., "kibosh," k-i-bosh is the standard spelling in Standard English, while k-y-bosh is an alternate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:00, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Kibosh is probably not from Irish. See discussion at American Dialect Society list and Cohen, Gerald (compiler), "Stephen Goranson's suggestion that _kibosh_ in _put the kibosh on_ may derive from _kurbash_ (a type of whip)," "Comments on Etymology" vol. 40 no. 1-2 (Oct.-Nov. 2010) pages 12-48. This includes two addenda (a) Stephen Goranson: ca. 1830: Broadside 'Penal Servitude' with lines: "It would put on the kibosh like winking / That is if they was to introduce the lash' and (b) Matthew Little's preliminary treatment (Nov. 2009; only now published) suggesting _kibosh_ from _kurbash_. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Coralapus (talkcontribs) 14:19, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

Slum (Cassidy again)[edit]

I have just removed "slum" which has been added, with a reference to Cassidy.

While I haven't got a reference that definitely says Cassidy is wrong, I have several circumstantial reasons to doubt his etymology ("s lom é" = "it is bleak"); and the discussion further up this page suggests that he is not reliable.

  1. While the OED does not have a specific etymology for "slum" (just saying "of Cant origin"), not one of the early citations there appears to have any particular connection to Ireland.
  2. The oldest citation there with the modern meaning of "slum" is from 1825; but older meanings of "a room" and "nonsense" are attested from 1819 and 1811-12 respectively, and neither of them has any particular "bleak"ness about them.
  3. It is extremely rare for a word to be borrowed from a phrase - still less a sentence - in another language.

As I say, these are all circumstantial: perhaps there are older, Irish references; perhaps the older meanings in the OED are unrelated words; and borrowings from sentences, though rare, are not unknown. Perhaps Cassidy has solid evidence for his suggestion (I haven't seen Cassidy's book). But judging from the comments mentioned above, I would doubt it, and say that the burden of proof for inclusion in this list is to show the evidence that Cassidy relies on. --ColinFine (talk) 19:09, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Dig and Slapper[edit]

I've removed "dig" (unsourced, and with an unsourced story about Irish and Blacks in New York), and "slapper", which is sourced only to Wiktionary: I'm going to remove the etymology from there, as it is unsourced and unlikely. --ColinFine (talk) 09:22, 17 April 2011 (UTC)


I may have been hasty in removing clock, thanks to Rashers who pointed that out. The OED accepts that there may be an Old Irish derivation involved but that involves the word going Old Irish > Germanic > Flemish > English. I guess the question is, do we include words which are maybe of Irish origin? In any case, if it's the case, then it belongs on List of English words of Irish origin, not here, as it certainly did not come via modern Irish. Akerbeltz (talk) 13:40, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

Not sure I follow in which article you think it might be more appropriate. Generally I'd be inclined to include, with ref., and whatever qualifier they use. RashersTierney (talk) 18:36, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
It should go in the Old Irish one, methinks. Akerbeltz (talk) 01:53, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

The origin of the word CLOCK[edit]

On 27 Mar 2012 Seanwal111111 deleted the word CLOCK from the list, with supporing comment: "Deleted CLOCK because the language and area of origin of the word is undetermined; see " -- that link is to the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles.

On 21 Jul 2012 editor Gimpel43 restored the word CLOCK with the comment: "The cited source from "Seanwal111111" is from 1893. Today (2012) the origin of the word "clock" from Old-Irish "clocc" isn't disputed."

Here's what dictionaries with copyright date 2012 are saying:

Oxford Dictionary copyright year 2012 @ : Clock: late Middle English: from Middle Low German and Middle Dutch klocke, based on medieval Latin clocca 'bell'. My comment: That's all it says and notice in particular that it does not engage in speculation about the origin of the medieval Latin word (and in fact no convincing evidence exists one way or another about where the medieval Latin word came from).
Random House Dictionary @ : Clock: 1350–1400; Middle English clok ( ke ) < Middle Dutch clocke bell, clock; akin to Old English clucge, Old High German glocka ( German Glocke ), Old Irish clocc bell; compare cloak. My comment: "akin to" is a different thing than "origin from".
Collins English Dictionary @ : Clock: from Middle Dutch clocke clock, from Medieval Latin clocca bell, ultimately of Celtic origin. My comment: Celtic origin doesn't mean Gaelic origin (nor even Insular Celtic origin).
Merriam-Webster Dictinary @ : Clock: English is from the European continent; the word is akin to Middle Irish clocc. My comment: "akin to" doesn't imply an Irish origin.

Editor Gimpel43 cites the following as his sole support for the undeletion of CLOCK:

Etymonline @ : Clock: late 14c., clokke, originally "clock with bells," probably from M.Du. clocke (Du. klok), from O.N.Fr. cloque, from M.L. (7c.) clocca "bell," probably from Celtic (cf. O.Ir. clocc, Welsh cloch "bell") and spread by Irish missionaries (unless the Celtic words are from Latin). My comment: That statement with its words "probably" and "unless" is pretty much consistent with the other dictionaries above, which are saying the origin is obscure and, in particular, an Irish origin is lacking in evidence. Notice also that Etymonline is saying the Medieval Latin word is on record from the 7th century on the European continent. That 7th century date is early enough to make an Irish missionary origin improbable (though does not definitively shut it out). Because the word is not recorded in Irish until some centuries after the 7th, its use in Irish might well have come from the Latin.

There has been no substantive new evidence about the etymology of CLOCK since the report dated 1893 I cited above, to my knowledge. I am now going to delete the word from the list again. Seanwal111111 (talk) 23:04, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

On 21 July 2012 Seanwal111111 deleted the word "clock" for the second time from the list of english words of irish origin with the main argument "origin of the word is undetermined", though one of his cited sources "Collins English Dictionary" says "ultimately of Celtic origin" and the other cited sources make a irish origin probable.

There is substantive new evidence about the etymology of CLOCK since the report dated 1893 you cited above and you yourself wrote it down: "Collins English Dictionary" gives us "ultimately of Celtic origin". The argument that "Merriam-Webster Dictinary" uses the word "akin" and "akin" doesn't imply an Irish origin is a weak argument. The whole Comparative Linguistics is based on the alikeness of words. So if you argue "akin" means nothing in Comparative Linguistics , than the whole Comparative Linguistics is doing jabberwocky. Any german dictionary leads the word "Glocke" back to Irish "clocc" not only because of the alikeness of the word but also because there is a historical framework. Most parts of germany, switzerland and austria (also england) got evangelised from ireland in the Early Middle Ages. And the irish monks brought the thing "bell" and the word for the thing "clocc" along. The word is not attested in Classical Latin but is attested in Medieval Latin, because this was the language of documents at that time.

Here are some good sources for the etymologie of the word "clock":

Duden, Herkunftswörterbuch, Glocke: "Im Rahmen der Missiontätigkeit irischer Mönche lernten die Germanen diese Glocken kennen und übernahmen mit der Sache auch das Wort. althochdeutsch glocca, clocca, mittelniederländisch klokke (daraus dann entlehnt engl. clock "Uhr").
Pfeiffer (online mlat. clocca, dessen kelt. Ursprung sich aus mir. clocc, kymr. cloch ‘Schelle, Glocke’ ergibt

The english word "clock" is not straight adopted from Old Irish. The word made a journey from Ireland to Germany and The Nederlands. From Middle Dutch it came eventually into Middle English. On this long way it changed its meaning from "bell" to "clock".

I will bring the word "clock" back on the list in the next time, so User Seanwal111111 has time to think about. Gimpel43 (talk) 10:18, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

In etymology, a key thing is temporal order. The medieval Latin is attested from the 7th century, says Etymonline. Please give us a source and a date for an attestation in Irish. Notice the German source above,, is saying "mir. clocc", a abbreviation for "Middle Irish clocc". Implying it's not attested in Old Irish. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary I cited above likewise says "akin to Middle Irish clocc". By the Middle Irish period, the word we're talking about already had many records across the European continent in Latin, and also the German glocka around year 1000, an Old English clucge is on record in about year 890. Notice too that says "Ursprung sich aus mir. clocc, kymr. cloch", an abbreviation for "it springs from either Middle Irish clocc or Welsh cloch" (in their opinion). Thus, not even your own source can believe there's enough evidence to say it's from Irish.
A second point is that at Wikipedia a key thing is references to high-quality sources. The German sources cited are valid and admissible in that regard. But right now you are not able to cite a single etymology dictionary in the English language that says the word is of Irish origin. I have cited six etymology dictionaries in the English language that say word origin is obscure (except that one of them, Collins, says the word origin is surely Celtic -- but it cannot say which one of the Celtic languages).
Anyway, as I said, I ask for a source and a date of attestation in Irish, as I think that's a necessary minimum requirement to frame what you're talking about here. Seanwal111111 (talk) 17:30, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, Kluge Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache deGruyter also says (I translate) Mid High German glocke, gloggel, Old High German glocka, klocke, Old Saxon glogga. Borrowed from Old irish cloc(c) m "bell, clock". Irish messengers of faith carried hand bells, some of which have been preserved Akerbeltz (talk) 16:08, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
The second bit is splitting hairs. If the German sources say the source is Old Irish, then that should suffice since the English sources (including the concise Oxford Etymological D) clearly state that the English word is a loan from Flemish. I think the onus would be on you to find a source that supports it coming from Brythonic. In that period, Scottish Gaelic and Manx had not yet split off anyway so Old Irish covers all three Goidelic areas anyway. Akerbeltz (talk) 17:47, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
The German sources are in no way better qualified than non-German sources to make a claim that the German word is of Irish origin. What we need is evidence, and when the evidence is there everybody has access to it. Don't forget the Latin word pre-dates the German by centuries in the documentation. The German is from the Latin, I believe. I am not saying the origin of the Latin is Brythonic. I'm in agreement with the Concise OED (2012): I haven't seen the evidence to take the etymology back further than the Latin. Seanwal111111 (talk) 18:09, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

Oh no, hold it there. We're not on a quest for the truth, remember? Wikipedia is about verifiable facts so if there are bona fide sources which support this, German or English, then that suffices. We're specifically not here to research stuff like that. Akerbeltz (talk) 18:25, 22 July 2012 (UTC) And incidentally, Old Irish does not take it back "further", Old Irish covers the period of the 6th - 10th century, which covers both the late end of Vulgar Latin and the early bits of Medieval Latin. Akerbeltz (talk) 18:38, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

Yes, but... If a reliable source says it, then it deserves a mention. If many other reliable sources say something different (including "we dont know"), that deserves a mention too. --ColinFine (talk) 21:34, 24 September 2012 (UTC)


This article is described as "a list of English language words from the Celtic Irish language." The word boycott is not derived from the Irish language and does not belong here. See (talk) 18:50, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Commentary moved from main page[edit]

I moved the following from the main page, as it seemed more appropriate for the talk page:

This purports to be a list of English language words from the Celtic and Irish language, ("Irish", The Scots dialect is Gaelic). It is however, riddled with inaccuracies and words which either are not used in the English language or do not derive from the Irish language. It seems that editors may not realise that the Irish language uses a reduced alphabet of 23 characters. However given that the ten vowels are are formed in very similar patterns and are sometimes considered to just be long and short forms of the same character and the character 'h' is more often used as a grammactical form than a letter it is common to consider the alphabet to have only 19 characters. The word "craic" for example is spelt thus as there is no letter "K" in Irish. However it is not known as such in the Irish language