phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Paddy = tantrum

Posted by Stuart Cormie on August 22, 2000

In Reply to: Paddy = tantrum posted by ESC on August 22, 2000

: Where is "here"? Gary, who owns this site, is British. But this has evolved into an international discussion group. I'm from the U.S. and haven't heard this expression. (In my part of the country, West Virginia/Kentucky, we call having a tantrum "cutting a rusty.")

"Here" is the UK. Sorry I didn't make it clear.

: I did find an entry in "British English: A to Zed" by Norman W. Schur (Harper Perennial, New York, 1987): "paddy, n., tantrum. Inf. 'Paddywhack' is a variant. Paddy is a nickname for Padraig, which is old Irish for Patrick, and there are so many Patricks in Ireland that Patrick or Pat is usually the protagonist in Irish jokes. Apparently, Irish tempers are shorter than British ones, so somehow 'paddy' came to mean 'tantrum."

Thanks for the response. This explanation confirms what I suspected. However, the reason I asked the question in the first place was because an Irish person I know takes great exception to the use of this phrase! I was thinking that I could put his mind at ease if "paddy" was used in the sense of "rice field" in the expression. Obviously not!

Do the Irish have shorter tempers than the British anyway??! I don't buy it myself.