Who could ever forget the movie Leap Year back in 2010?
The endless greens of the Irish meadows, the story behind Ballycarbery Castle, and the train wreck of mishaps that Anna Brady had to endure.
One of the most unforgettable scenes in the film was when a group of lads offered desperate Anna a lift and one greeting her saying, “Top of the morning to you,” only to drive away with her luggage.
So, what does this expression mean? Do Irish people use this in daily conversations? If so, how could we respond to it?
Let’s try to explore this notorious phrase a couple of miles deeper.
What is meant by the expression “Top of the morning to you?”
“Originating in Ireland, the phrase “Top of the morning to you” goes beyond a typical “Good Morning”. It conveys a wish for the best of the morning. The customary reply is: “And the rest of the day to you”. Despite its association with Irish culture, it’s rarely used in modern Ireland, indicating a potential stereotype.”
“Top of the morning to you” in more detail
As regards the language, the elusive Irish accent never misses its top rank among the sexiest accent in the world, just like Italian and Spanish.
The Irish language, also known as Gaelic, belongs to the Celtic language family, which is a sibling of the Brythonic or British language.
“Top of the morning to you” used to be an ordinary salutation in the Northern and Southern parts of the country, as per Joyce Patrick Weston in her book English as We Speak it in Ireland.
Furthermore, Google Ngram viewer reports the expression’s usage at its highest in the first three decades of the 19th century.
However, it started declining after 1830 and began to rise again from the early 1990s to date.
Besides that, the greeting may be commonly heard during St. Patrick’s day every March 17th as a celebratory salutation for the Irish culture.
“Top of the morning to you”: Usage and Examples
As mentioned, a possible scenario that may not lead to a perception of offensive behavior is by using the phrase during St. Patrick’s day.
A newscaster may use “Top of the morning to you” as an opening remark in a media program to start a report.
Newscaster: Top of the morning to you! We are live here in Dublin today. Today is St. Patrick’s day and we are about to interview some locals about Irish practices and whatnots.
When used within the context, the expression could be interpreted as a non-offensive linguistic tool that only aims to inject some irony in speech.
Another scenario that the expression has been conveniently used is in the video intros of Irish YouTuber Jacksepticeye.
Jacksepticeye: Top of the morning to you, laddies! My name is Jacksepticye and welcome to the Tea Party simulator!
Being Irish himself who’s simply trying to infuse some ironic and jocular features in his video content, apparently, the expression’s usage less likely invites criticisms.
How to respond to “Top of the morning to you”
However, if in any case, this happens, a polite response would be a simple “thank you” or “thanks.”
Or, a more traditional answer would be “And the rest of the day to you,” which means wishing for the goodwill or welfare back to the speaker.
Jane: Top of the morning to you, Jane! I’m going out to get some coffee. Would you like one?
Danny: And the rest of the day to you too, Danny! I haven’t been able to get a cup of joe on my way here. So, yes, please grab me one. Thanks!
“Top of the morning to you” as a stereotypical remark
More often than not, many people of Irish descent might cringe at getting heavily associated with the greeting “Top of the morning to you.”
The only takeaway is that the expression’s meaning is not essentially offensive, but rather a standard Irish “hello” only.
This purported Irish expression may come across as slightly offensive, though, especially when done inappropriately.
This means that it wouldn’t advisable to deliberately greet an Irish coworker, client, or superior with this phrase if the relationship isn’t that established yet.
However, it could be considered passable, in the least, in situations driven by socialization purposes, such as discussing the Irish culture over coffee.
In a nutshell, it is best to avoid using the expression toward a person of Irish descent indiscriminately, simply because he or she is linked with Ireland.
Frequently Asked Questions about “Top of the morning to you”
Is “Top of the morning to you” considered offensive?
If done inappropriately and out of context, using it as a greeting may come across as borderline “offensive.” However, when it is ironically used as an emphatic salutation during St. Patrick’s day or other socialization purposes, then it should not propel any misconception.
What is a synonym for “Top of the morning to you?”
Another popular, archaic way to greet another person in Ireland is by saying “A good morrow to you” which could be responded with “Morrow kindly” in exchanging goodwill wishes.
Can we use “Top of the morning to you” in emails?
In conventional emails without any propelling context, it is better to use other forms of greetings instead, so as not to unintentionally create an unfavorable impression.
However, if the email is context-driven, such as an invitation related to St. Patrick’s day, the expression should be suitable and non-offensive nonetheless.
Interestingly, an innocent phraseology may come across wrongly to a particular group of people depending on the context.
This means that if you’re a tourist in Ireland who would use the expression in greeting a hotel receptionist, chances of getting a negative impression is high.
But if the phrase is going to be applied in events that deem to celebrate cultural identity, then the connotation becomes more positive instead.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.