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Posted by ESC on June 15, 2001

In Reply to: Phrase meanings (and origins) for: posted by John on June 15, 2001

: Irish as Paddy's pig. I saw the term listed here, but no discussion. My Mother would use it to mean that you're Irish. When I asked her about the origin she said, her mother used the expression to her to mean she was Irish. (Both her Mother and Father were from County Galway.)

: The luck of the Irish. Does that mean good or bad luck?

: Shir tail relations. I've always gathered from my mothers use that it was fro people that may be married to distant cousins.

: Ham handed or ham fisted. Obviously not very dexterous, does anybody know what that means or can put it into context for me?

: There are other phrases that I couldn't find here, but I've drawn a blank on recalling them.

I've never been able to find anything about the origin of "luck of the Irish." Is it used ironically? What with the potato famine and all?

SHIRTTAIL -- "Whistlin' Dixie" by Robert Hendrickson (Pocket Books, New York, 1993) has several meanings for "shirttail." "Shirttail" means a small piece ("This little shirttail of a farm.") But "shirt-tail" also means a distant cousin. Similar to "kissing cousins...a relative far enough removed to permit marriage, an 'eighth cousin' in the North..." "Shirt-tail lads" are young boys. "Shirt-tail run" is running so fast your shirttail flutters behind you.

HAM-FISTED or HAM-HANDED -- Clumsy, lacking dexterity or grace. It has a literal meaning. But can also be used figuratively when a person doesn't handle a social situation gracefully. Ham-fisted approach, ham-fisted apology.