From Rural Irish to the Queen's English

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Oxford English Dictionary gives an ‘etymology unknown’ for quaff, a first recording in 1579, and a meaning of ‘a deep draught’ and ‘amount of liquid’. No Irish connection as suggested by Sandi Tocsvig is apparent, but if we go to Niall O Dónaill’s Foclóir Gaeilge Béarla there is the word cuaifeach for ‘whirling’ or ‘swirling’ (the word being pronounced something like ‘quaffack’) and cuaifeach uisce as the word for a ‘water spout’.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2021


  • Irish language
  • etymology
  • quaff


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