Many Irish and Irish Americans use some of these phrases, but do you really know their meanings?

Irish and Irish Americans tend to throw around phrases like "Slainte" and "Top of the morning to ye" - especially on St. Patrick's Day! - but how many of us really know what these beloved Irish phrases really mean?

While some stem from ancient Irish blessings and even more old-fashioned Irish language Catholic greetings, some hail straight from Hollywood. 

Here are some of the best known Irish sayings and what they really mean:

"May the road rise to meet you."

An Irish blessing - "May the road rise to meet you."

An Irish blessing - "May the road rise to meet you."

From the Gaelic "Go n-éiri an bóthar leat," which means "may success be with you".

"Top of the morning to you."

Hollywood invention, never used in Ireland.

"And the rest of the day to yourself."

Also Hollywood.

"Sláinte!"

Anyone who's hung in an Irish pub knows this one!..."Sláinte!"

Anyone who's hung in an Irish pub knows this one!..."Sláinte!"

Sláinte [SLAHN-chə], or "Good Health" in English, is an Irish expression that derives from the Old Irish word slán, meaning "healthy" or "safe". Also used in place of "cheers".

"Slán!"

Don't "Irish goodbye" it! Say "Slán!"

Don't "Irish goodbye" it! Say "Slán!"

Slán itself has other meanings besides "healthy" and "safe" in Gaelic. It can mean "farewell" when used as a noun and "goodbye" - as an interjection. "Slán go deo" means "goodbye forever". Don't mistake it for the "Irish Goodbye" though - leaving a public event abruptly without saying goodbye to anyone.  

"Erin go Bragh"

Meaning "Ireland forever" in Gaelic.

"Céad Mile Fáilte"

A Gaelic phrase meaning "a hundred thousand welcomes."

"Dia is Muire Dhuit."

Meaning hello in Gaelic. The phrase literally means "God and Mary with you."

"Dia is Mhuire Duit agus Padraig" 

How the person responds to the previous: "God and Mary and St. Patrick with you."

"Póg Mo Thóin"

Ye what?!! "Póg Mo Thóin"

Ye what?!! "Póg Mo Thóin"

Yes, it means what you think it does, Gaelic for kiss my a**.

* Originally published in March 2014. Last updated March 2022.

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