from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An oaken sapling or cudgel; any cudgel; -- so called from Shillelagh, a place in Ireland of that name famous for its oaks.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An oak or blackthorn sapling, used in Ireland as a cudgel.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a cudgel made of hardwood (usually oak or blackthorn)


Sorry, no etymologies found.



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  • Sionnach, I think you should hook up with a certain "ceolach" I know from another site. You are two peas from a pod, if ever there were.

    January 18, 2009

  • But what of the images of the Fenians brandishing their fighting sticks, and of cross-roads dancers holding theirs aloft? I still want one, despite the dozen or so intricately carved and wood-burned ones in various woods I have created to record my journeys over hill and dale in various places.

    January 18, 2009

  • Gaah. Shillelagh is the kind of rubbishy word that was probably coined by the Northern Irish Tourist Board after a slow season, as a way of exploiting the tacky souvenir market even further. AS part of the subsequent branding campaign, it was then cunningly retrospectively inserted in the works of assorted "writers" of the Celtic twilight persuasion. Starting, of course, with the despicable Synge, whose work was already so studded with pukeworthy, picaresque paddyisms that nobody was going to notice the post hoc insertion of yet another ladle of steaming crap.

    There's a patently racist graphic depiction of 'Paddy the Irishman' that invariably accompanies the non-word shillelagh:

    Racist Paddywhackery

    The not-so-subtle dehumanizing effect of such racist images and stereotypical props undoubtedly helped exacerbate one mass starvation and a couple of centuries of systematic oppression.

    No Irish need apply

    Generally speaking, shillelagh is a word one probably should avoid when talking to someone from Ireland. Unless, of course, offensive stereotyping is the goal.

    Which I know it's not here, obviously. Forgive my little diatribe, but it's a loathsome, loaded word.

    *Dismounts from soapbox, walks away slowly*

    (You may be wondering, if this is a kind of taboo word, because of its associations, what people in Ireland would say for the thing it denotes. The answer is a 'blackthorn stick')

    January 18, 2009

  • (n): variant of shillelah, shillelagh, shilleyly, shillala, an Irish club or cudgel traditionally made of blackthorn. (The Winston Dictionary.)

    January 18, 2009