I was reading an article on dialect discourse markers, and I came across one, namely "arrah", the meaning of which I couldn't fully understand. It was said that it is in some sort a "defensive" discourse marker, used in tense conversations, especially when there is a difference in social status between the speakers. Below is the example, provided in the article, it actually contains the Irish version of "arrah" - "yarrah", but it doesn't really matter. Could you please suggest an equivalent for "arrah", which can be used nowadays?

"Dan Shiel, you little starved-looking spalpeen, will you come up to your Illocution? - and a purty figure you cut at it, wid a voice like a penny thrumpet, Dan! Well, what speech have you got now, Dan, ma bouchal? Is it, 'Romans, counthry, and lovers?'"

"No shir; yarrah, didn't I spake that speech before? 'tis wan, masther, that I'm afther Pennen' myself."

Stories from Carleton, 1889

1 Answer 1


The term is present in most dictionaries which define arrah as an expression of excitement.

arrah [ ar-uh ]


Expressing excitement or strong emotion.

  • ‘‘Arrah, don't be talking nonsense,’ Elmer exclaimed’

Etymology - Late 17th century from Irish ara, arú.


arrah (interjection)

Irish —used to express surprise or excitement.


The daily edge website suggests the following usage:

“Ara“ - Ara is used to give an indication that you’re really not too fussed about something. It can also be used to start pretty much any sentence:

  • Ara I might go. I might not.

“Ara Musha“ - When ara is used in conjunction with musha then it means something else entirely. It’s a term of endearment or affection:

  • Ara musha you poor craythur, you’ll be grand.

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