Where does the word “Paddywhack” come from and What does Paddywhack mean?

In England, perhaps because all Irishmen (each known as “Paddy”) have no love for the English, a paddywhack generally denotes a towering rage or, sometimes, the kind of thrashing that is most likely to accompany such a rage, a real, genuine, downright whacking.

But in America, where “Pat” or “Paddy” may be less given to fits of temper, the paddywhack has become considerably gentler.

It is still a punishment for a misdemeanor, usually one committed by a child, but it is rarely more than a spanking, often not very drastic.

Oh yes, for unfathomed reasons the ruddy duck is locally called paddywhack, often abridged to paddy.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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