The Dublin definition of sports:

Rugby is a game for gurriers, played by gentlemen.
Soccer is a game for gentlemen, played by gurriers.
Hurling is a game for gurriers, played by gurriers.

Which leaves only:

  1. Where do we locate women’s football?
  2. Why does this spell-check insist on replacing “gurriers” with “furriers”?
  3. Is the OED completely up-the-creek over defining and explaining “gurrier”?

In order:


Watching a grand-daughter,

  • playing in the traditional inside-left position, and
  • launching into a “robust” tackle (which would have involved a yellow card in the professional game),

raised questions about:

  • whether this was a sport or war-by-other means, and about
  • the standards of refereeing in New Jersey.

There is, by the way, a nice piece on the BBC web-site,  by Gemma Fay, outlining the history for women’s football.


Spell-checks are notorious.

First, one has to make sure the grotesque US-variants have been side-stepped. This has improved in recent years, but there are still serious difficulties with “ise”/”ize” endings.

Look, folks, it ought to be straightforward. “-ize” is for verbs derived from the Greek “-ιζω” ending. I fully appreciate that classical Greek is no longer a mainstream school subject, but you really need to get up to speed on this.

The spell-check, particularly with early versions of Microsoft Word, has ever been a useful guide (especially with typos), but a very poor master (especially with homophones).

Which provokes me further: what is the lexicon of a spell-check? 30,000 words (with plurals and variations for tenses)? If so, the one here on WordPress fails to comprehend my vocabulary.


Now this is the most interesting.

gurrier, n.

Pronunciation: Brit. ˈɡʌrɪə/ , U.S. ɡəriər

Etymology: Origin uncertain. Perhaps Irish English gur-cake, a mincemeat-filled pastry slice formerly associated with street urchins (of unknown origin), or perhaps French guerrier warrior. Perhaps compare Scottish English gurry (noun) brawl, dog-fight, bustle, (verb) to wrangle, dispute, to grumble, growl.

Originally: a Dublin street urchin. Now usually: a rough, aggressive young man; a lout, a hooligan. Also as a term of abuse.

So much for the OED. Try Wiktionary:

Etymology uncertain. Suggestions include:

  • alteration of gutter
  • from gurry, a brawl
  • related to gur cake, a cheap cake eaten by poor children
  • from French guerrier, a warrior

The word “gurrier” is a misspelling of a word used in the West of Ireland, “gorier” for a hatching hen. The Irish word for “hatch”, as used in reference to hatching birds, is “gor”. The translation of, “the hen is hatching” is “tá and cearc ar gor”. The word is pronounced, “gorrier”, with the “o” sounding as the “o” in the irish word, gorm (blue) or poll (hole). In view of its derivation, this would be a more appropriate spelling. The “u” spelling is the result of the Dublin working class, known as a “Dub” accent, which has a tendency to pronounce the “o” as a “u” sound, for example, world is pronounced wurld, working is pronounced wurking, etc. A rapid “Dub” accent interruption for an explanation would often consist of, whah, whah whah, whah’s thah, whah’s thah, and would sound like the bock, bock, sound of a hatching hen when disturbed.

At some point there, I think I detected urine being extracted.

Equally, “gurrier” can become a mark of pride in an anti-heroic, reverse-snobbery sort of way. Here comes an illuminating exchange from Dáil Éireann on 29 November, 1967. The participants are Minister of Finance Haughey and James Dillon of Fine Gael (both barristers):

Mr. Haughey: You are an “ould” fraud.

Mr. Dillon: What an edifying contribution to the discussion on the economic state of Ireland.

Mr. Haughey: What about yours?

Mr. Dillon: We have heard frequently of the general accents of the Dublin gurrier.

Mr. Haughey: This is very edifying.

Mr. Dillon: I was born and bred in North Great George’s Street and I regard myself not only as a Mayo man but a Dublin man too: a gurrier, no.

An Ceann Comhairle: I do not think the Deputy should refer to the Minister——

Mr. Dillon: Oh, I am not referring to the Minister as a gurrier. I am only expressing amazement that a resident of Clontarf, who has graduated to Portmarnock, should use the language of the gurrier.

Mr. Haughey: You are wrong on both counts and I do not resent the title “gurrier” at all.

Mr. Dillon: That shows you are not a native of Dublin. You are only an import. If you did understand its meaning, you would resent it bitterly. I want to emphasise that I never said the Minister was a gurrier because I know from whence he comes, but I resent his using the language of the gurrier for it is the language of the gutter.

Mr. Haughey: Do you mean you can call me a fraud and my actions fraudulent——

Mr. Dillon: I do not think I referred to the Minister as a fraud.

The notion of “Charlus” Haughey not being a fraud is too, too risible. However, the ambiguity of “gurrier” is there made clear.

Advanced students of Hibernicisms may now wish to attempt a definition of “cute hoor” (not, as the spellcheck would like to insist, “cute hour”)


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Filed under Dublin., Ireland, Irish politics, Oxford English Dictionary, Quotations, reading

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