I"ve make the efforts to figure out what the an interpretation of this yes, really is and also how to properly respond, but there appears to it is in dozens of interpretations as to what this phrase actually means.

You are watching: Irish saying top of the morning to you

Does anyone know what the origin and original meaning of this phrase is?


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I just said this in a article to a girlfriend in N.I., and also she come straight ago with "and the remainder of the day come yourself". I'd never heard this before - so come looking!
The expression is irish in origin yet now very rarely used in Ireland (except together a sterotypical "Irishism"). The simply way "the best of the morning to you" - probably from the idea that unhomogenised milk, wherein the cream rises come the top. One appropriate response might be a straightforward "thank you" although the traditional an answer would it is in "And the remainder of the day come yourself."

Terrible make the efforts at irish accents, dance a jig and also leprechaun costumes are entirely optional while speak this.


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This was supplied in Theodore Cyphon, or, The benevolent Jew: a novel, Volume 3 by George Walker, released in 1796. The protagonist is greeted not long after landing top top the shore of Essex:

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"Halloo ! girlfriend teney" cried one, " the top of the morning come you. Have you watched pass a tall chap, in a light blue coat, v striped trowsers."


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The expression emerges from 2 related meanings of "top," to be a usual greeting throughout the uk in the 19th century, and fell out of use just to be restored as a so-called ireland expression through American filmmakers in search of ways to identify Irish characters.

The Oxford centregalilee.com thesaurus lists "top that the morning" under "Top, n.1," 17.a., whereby top method "The finest or choicest part; the cream, flower, pick. Now esp. In the top of the morning, as an irish morning greeting (cf. 13)." (13 describes a temporal definition for top: "Of time: The earliest part of a period; the beginning.") It"s feasible for either among these meanings of "top" come come into play, also in a punning sense: the finest of the morning and the beginning of the morning. I suggest that both definitions may be enmeshed together.

An instance of the early use that "top" referring to cream is in a sermon on vanity by Anglican bishop Ezekiel Hopkins (d. 1690), given originally in 1668:

"The soul, alongside angels, is the very top and cream the the whole creation."

This idiomatic use would job-related its means into a greeting over the following century. I agree through the lexicographers because that the OED in grouping this meaning with "top the the morning" used in other beforehand greetings.

That said, there are early sources attesting come "top the the morning" gift a period of time rather than a greeting. Right here is john Worlidge in A compleat mechanism of husbandry and gardening (London, 1716), p. 143:

<...> particularly if flourish near together, they afford a very pleasant dark shade, and perfume the air in the month of June and July v their fragrant Blossoms, and also entertain a mellifluous military of Bees, native the top of the Morning, it spins the cool and dark night compels your return.

This feels favor a description of time, noting as soon as the bees will certainly be out among the trees. The consumption as a temporal reference comes up again at the end of the century in a book titled Vocal harmony. Funny fellow"s companion, a collection of songs published in the last te of the eighteenth century (p.5, "The little Jew"):

"TWAS the peak of the morning so pleasant and also clear ...

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The phrase establishes a setting for an otherwise mundane song.

So exactly how did this temporal marker come to be an idiomatic irish greeting? Evidence suggests there to be an intermediate duration where the expression to be used beyond Ireland, prefer in Scotland. Here is prick Ostler in teacher Walter Scott"s The love of Mid-Lothian (1818), ch. 29, speaking to the heroine together she travels near York:

Dick Ostler, who either had risen at an early stage or neglected to walk to bed, either circumstance being equally incident to his calling, hollowed the end after her — “The peak of the morning to you, Moggie. Have actually a treatment o’ Gunderby Hill, young one. Robin Hood’s dead and gwone, however there it is in takers yet in the vale the Bever."

Dick is virtually certainly a short Scot or a working class man in the north of England (where this component of the novel bring away place). This provides his rotate of expression curious: Scott maybe relied on his audience knowing this together a Scot or renowned idiom. Similarly, the instance from George Walker"s gothic novel Theodore Cyphon, or, The benevolent Jew: a novel, Volume 3, an initial published in 1796, features the idiom spoken not by Irish civilization in Ireland, however a group of "four sturdy men, whose countenances wore every lineament of difficult inhumanity," about nine mile up the road from landing in Essex.

What, then, make this expression irish or Irish-American? perhaps only since the expression survived among Irish (and Irish-American) speakers longer? Blogger and also amateur language researcher Ben T. Smith defines how the expression is an ext archaic than Irish, a kind that persisted across British and also Irish arrays of centregalilee.com with at the very least the victor period. By the beforehand 20th century, meanwhile, a guidebook to irish speech (centregalilee.com as We Speak the in Ireland, through P.W. Joyce, 1910) describes the greetings for an excellent morning, where top of the morning take away a backseat to an additional common greeting:

"To the simple salutation, "Good-morrow," i m sorry is heard everywhere, the usual response is "Good-morrow kindly." "Morrow Wat," claimed Mr. Loyd. "Morrow kindly," responded Wat. ("Knocknagow.") "The height of the morning to you" is said everywhere, North and also South." (15)

However, it had actually fallen out of usage by the moment that mid-20th century American filmmakers had picked the up as an irish colloquialism, like in the Disney movie Darby O"Gill and also the tiny People or in the music that Bing crossby in the movie Top o" the Morning (1949). It had actually dropped so totally out the the irish lexicon the an ireland publication would look in ~ the phrase and explain, "Hollywood invention, never used in Ireland." (Perhaps they should revise that to "not just used in Ireland.") Its rebirth is mainly because of Irish-American speaker rediscovering their heritage in an American irish film stereotype based on an archaism once usual throughout England, Scotland, and also Ireland.