from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Irish Usury.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Usury.
  • n. A moneylender during the Great Famine.
  • n. A mean, underhanded, corrupt person. Usually applied to politicians.
  • adj. Corrupt, underhanded.


Irish Gaelic gaimbín, diminutive of gamba, smidgen, lump.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Irish gaimbín ("monetary interest"). (Wiktionary)


  • Whatever the medics and gombeen men would have you believe cannabis, whiskey and wine are psychologically and physically addictive.

    Giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, Tony Blair said: “I...

  • I would really love to hear some topical radio shows about Parnell and Robert Emmet and people like that rather than the gombeen gobshites we have to hear about every day these days.

    The Tae man | clusterflock

  • Kerry let me remind you is the former constituency of Dick Spring, former leader of the Labour Party and the current constituency of former IRA commander Martin Ferris TD, a man who was once caught red-handed shipping a cargo Libyan supplied arms and the home of gombeen Jackie Healey-Rae, a man who would make a St. Patrick's Day leprauchan blush with shame at his shameless stage Oirish paddywackery.

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • For now, 26 county gombeen Freestatism is the name of the game.

    We’re on the one road. Well, sort of.

  • There's plenty that can be said against gombeen politics - but a situation where people prioritise local needs is completely dependent on its existence.

    Archive 2007-11-01

  • And it was scarcely to be supposed the poet of the Roisín Dubh had in mind the coming of a shoneen talking-house, a gombeen legislature scrounged and cadged for by whiskey-swilling fixers in the imperial Parliament across the sea.

    At Swim, Two Boys

  • The loans which they make, at an interest of five per cent. or six per cent., are dealing a death-blow at that curse of Irish life -- the gombeen man, whose usury used to mount up to thirty per cent.

    Ireland and the Home Rule Movement

  • Personal indebtedness became almost a thing of the past, and the gombeen man -- one of Ireland's national curses -- was fast fading out of sight.

    Ireland Since Parnell

  • Why, the village gombeen man has done more than that!

    Imaginations and Reveries

  • The farmers were at the mercy of the gombeen traders and the agricultural middlemen.

    The National Being Some Thoughts on an Irish Polity


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  • I give another quotation from "Disturbed Ireland - Being the Letters Written During the Winter of 1880-81," in particular for the atmosphere generated by the words of Bernard Becker:

    "From the papers the figure turned to a heap as of bank-notes, and there was in the air the chink of money. For the name of this grisly and terribly real spectre is _gombeen_; which, in the Irish tongue, signifies usury.

    May 21, 2012

  • Oh, they do indeed. And it comes with a nicely wrapped package of Burn in Hell, too. Highly effective. :-)

    January 4, 2008

  • I've heard that nuns do a really great LOOK OF DEATH. Never had the good fortune to be Catholic, so I missed all the "fun".

    January 4, 2008

  • She liked to give us the impression that she wouldn't have minded the mess. Chalk it up (sorry) to Catholic school. ;-)

    January 4, 2008

  • Well, the only thing a teacher really needs to do is shoot you is the LOOK OF DEATH. Collecting the heads could get her classroom all messy.

    January 4, 2008

  • Get jennarenn to help you. She's an expert. :-)

    January 4, 2008

  • Why am I beginning to think of a list of teacher words? It's one of the those Word Reality = List Potentiality afflictions. I have it bad :-(

    January 4, 2008

  • I had a teacher who always threatened to "have our heads" when we misbehaved. I used to fancy them all lined up, shrunken to fist size, along the front edge of her desk.

    January 4, 2008

  • I think it's a teacher trick to choose one or two vocab words and beat them to death during the year. I had a geometry teacher who was particularly fond of superfluous. Dawdle is my personal mission for the 07/08 school year.

    January 4, 2008

  • I had a teacher who used this a lot

    January 4, 2008

  • The gombeen woman Eliza Tudor had underlinen enough to vie with her of Sheba.
    Joyce, Ulysses, 9

    January 6, 2007