Word Nerd: St. Patty’s Day

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Today’s Word Nerd strikes close to home for me. I’m half-Irish; my grandfather was from Galway and my grandmother from Cork. My grandfather’s name was Patrick, which is also my middle name, which brings us to today’s topic: St. Patrick’s Day.

Every year, bars, pubs, restaurants and clubs advertize their St. Patrick’s Day specials, and a lot of them will shorten it to “St. Pat’s” or, more often, “St. Paddy’s.” The problem there is at least half of them will mess it up and say “St. Patty’s.” This is very annoying, because Patty is a girl’s name.

Patrick comes from the Latin Patricius, which means Patrician, a title for the ruling class; Patrick means nobleman.

In modern Irish, Patrick is Padraig; the shortened version is Paddy. In America, Paddy became a derogatory slur for the Irish (for example, a police van was called a paddy wagon in reference to the twin stereotypes of policemen being Irish and Irishmen being arrested often for being drunk and disorderly.)

pattyThe feminine version of Patrick is Patricia, which gets shortened to Patty.

If you wish to celebrate St. Patty’s Day, you can do so on April 23 (the feast day of St. George, the patron saint of butchers and therefore the patron saint of hamburger patties) or August 25 (the feast day of St. Patricia of Naples).

St. Patty could possibly be a new McDonaldland character.

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