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Posted by Eddie on February 21, 2008 at 12:28:

We have a saying in Northern Ireland, "a quare whipper-snapper like Barr's cat". Quare refers to 'great or mighty' but the term is used often by the older generation when speaking to young children. It is not a derogatory term, but rather makes out the the child has done well, or has achieved something extraordinary. However, this falls in contrast to what is defined as a whippersnapper within . There may well be some likelihood of reference, however, to the 'young men of no ambition', as the addition of 'like Barr's cat', makes reference to 'a domestic pet that doesn't move around too much, spends it's day lazing in front of the fireplace, but is considered an asset because of its mouse catching capability'. So in support of your application of 'whippersnapper', I would like to suggest that these men of no ambition, who loitered on street corners, snapping their whips, could have achieved something if they had put their mind to it, just like a cat can kill mice, if it wants to...