It’s Paddy, Not Patty! – St Patricks Day and Other Irish Words Explained


St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and St. Patrick’s Day falls every year on the 17th of March. Growing up in Ireland we celebrated every year, and as an adult it is so nice to see this tradition celebrated across the world, and here in San Diego too.

Somehow, in America, Patrick was renamed and shortened to Patty. I’m here to tell you that as a true Irish person born and bred, our saint is not named after a burger patty (I blame Hallmark!). It’s Paddy not Patty! Let me explain why—In the Irish language, the name Patrick is Padraig (pronounced Paw-drig). Both Patrick and Padraig are very common names in Ireland, and they are often shortened to Paddy. So St. Patrick’s Day is commonly referred to as St. Paddy’s Day, and NOT St. Patty’s Day! 

There are many other words in Ireland that are different than in America. I never really noticed until I moved to San Diego in 2016 and started making American friends, and realized that they would look at me wildly and confused when I was talking. So I thought I would share some of my favorite phrases and words with you!

  • “Having the craic” (pronounced crack). This is a commonly used phrase in Ireland, and doesn’t mean that we are all dabbling in cocaine. Craic is the Irish word for fun! Example: “The party was great, everyone was having the craic”
  • “Your man/your woman”. Another phrase that most people use without realizing. This is not referring to your husband/boyfriend/wife/girlfriend. It is used in conversation when making reference to other people. Example : “Did you see your man in the blue jacket, he just skipped the queue” (By the way queue means line in Ireland!)
  • “Deadly”. This doesn’t mean something is very dangerous, but that it is awesome! This one caused my American friends great confusion, when I would say “That’s deadly”!
  • “Lovely”. We use this to describe lots of things, which I never found to be strange but apparently it is! As in—The weather is lovely, that girl looks lovely in that dress, my dinner is lovely, my friend is so lovely. Is is strange? Now that i’m reading it, maybe it is!

As a Mom they are lots of other words that come up all the time:

  • A shopping cart in Ireland is called a trolley. This caused great confusion when doing groceries and I would tell my daughter to sit down in the trolley. 
  • The word fanny in Ireland (and lots of other countries, like UK and Australia) actually is a way of referring to your vagina. A fanny pack has a whole different meaning if said when you are in Ireland!
  • A diaper is a nappy. A stroller is a buggy. A crib is a cot. A pacifier is a soother. All caused great confusion when I would mention these in conversation, particularly in daycare!
  • The trunk of a car is a boot – “let me pack up the car and put the buggy in the boot.”
  • Ordering in a restaurant – fries are called chips, and chips are called crisps.

The list is endless! Hopefully this will give you a greater understanding of any Irish people you meet or know – do they say any other things you can’t understand? Let me know, I’ll translate for you! I hope you and all your family have a wonderful St. Paddy’s Day!



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