Hello, my good followers! How’s it going?
It’s Wednesday, and, a day late (and not a minute too soon), we present to you our latest Fun Etymology!
Today we complete our little exploration of the British Isles with the word “Irish”!
The word “Irish”, from Old English “Iras”, was brought to our language by the Vikings, of all people. It is a loanword from the Old Norse “Irar”. Why the Vikings, who came from the exact opposite side of the sea from where Ireland is located?
Well, at the time, the Vikings had a… ahem… special relation with Ireland, in that they had raided it multiple times and establish numerous settlements there.
Their word “Irar” itself comes from Old Irish “Eriu”, the name they gave themselves, from Old Celtic “Iveriu”. This is thought to come from the PIE root *pi-wer-, meaning “fertile”, or “fat”, probably referring to the notoriously verdant island they settled.
If you know an Irishman (or if you are one), maybe you could consider adopting the name “Fertile Ones” for a bit of flattery.
Just don’t call them “fatties”, please.