Why are the Welsh and the Irish called "Taffy" and "Paddy"?

Where do these words come from? And why are they considered offensive?

  • 1
    Those are names that come from the Patron Saints of those countries. You can look it up easily enough. – J. Taylor Feb 12 '18 at 21:04
  • Are they considered offensive? How about 'Scouser', 'Geordie', 'Cockney' etc? – peterG Feb 12 '18 at 23:30
  • My experience is that offense is an individual matter. No terms mentioned would have to be offensive to some. Geordies seem proud of the name . – J. Taylor Feb 12 '18 at 23:57

Paddy, short for Patric, became offensive only in recent decades probably because of its association with Paddy Wagon, according to the following site:

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Tenth Edition, 1993) defines "Paddy" as "Irishman" and adds "often taken to be offensive."

A slew of others, the article notes – The Ninth Edition (1986), the unabridged Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1961), the Oxford English Dictionary (1905), the Dictionary of American English (1936) and the Dictionary of American Slang (1967) – mention nothing about “Paddy” being offensive, with the OED tracing “Paddy” back to the year 1790 and defining it as "Nickname for an Irishman” and “pet-form of Padraic or Patrick."

The word “Paddy” started being defined in dictionaries as offensive in the 1980s and 90s, the author explains. As for Paddy Wagon, “a look into the Dictionary of American Slang confirmed that [his] earlier assumption was right: ‘A police wagon used for taking arrested persons to jail. . . . Prob. from the association of there being many Irish policemen.’”


Taffy characteristic name of a Welshman, c. 1700, from Teifi, Welsh form of Davy (David) appears to have derived its offensive connotation from the nursery rhyme Taffy was a Welshman

"Taffy was a Welshman" is an English language nursery rhyme with anti-Welsh lyrics, which was popular in England between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19237.


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  • The Irish are proud of their PADDYWAGONS – WS2 Feb 12 '18 at 23:21

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