One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Chiefly with the. Originally: Gaelic-speaking Irish people inhabiting the areas of Ireland not under English control. Subsequently also: Irish people regarded (especially by the English) as uncivilized, primitive, or unruly.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in John Trevisa (c1342–?1402), translator. From wild + Irish. Compare post-classical Latin silvestres Hibernici, plural. Compare Welsh Gwyddel Irishman (sometimes derogatory).
wild Irish/ˌwʌɪld ˈʌɪrɪʃ/
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