What Are Irish Twins? – Idiom, Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Let’s talk about the term “Irish Twins” and the history behind the old term. You’ve probably heard someone use the term before, but did you know where it came from and what it really means? Before you go ahead and use it in speech or writing, consider what I have to say in this guide first. Let’s dive in!

What Is the Meaning of Irish Twin?

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The Irish Twin refers to two siblings born within a year of each other, usually less than twelve months apart. This old-fashioned term is mostly used colloquially and isn’t a medical or official term used by healthcare professionals in any way.

So, to put it simply, it’s more of a slang term or a figure of speech and should only be used as such.

It’s often used as a playful or humorous way of referring to siblings who are super close in age. But some people out there find it offensive and consider it a form of stereotyping or derogatory language. Yikes!

Why Is ‘Irish Twins’ Offensive?

Well, it depends on who you ask; some people won’t even realize that it could be seen as offensive. But here are a few of the main reasons why some might.

It Pushes a Negative Stereotype

The term “Irish Twins” reinforces the unfortunate stereotype that Irish families have large numbers of children and that they don’t use birth control or any kind of family planning. This somewhat hurtful stereotype is not only totally untrue, but it can be harmful and slightly offensive to people who come from large families.

It’s Insensitive

For big families that have kids who are close in age, the term “Irish Twins” can be insensitive and a little hurtful. It makes them feel like their family is being reduced to a common stereotype rather than being seen as individuals with unique experiences and personalities or just a big family full of love.

The Irish Twin’s Origin

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The origin of the term is believed to originate in America in the early 19th century as a way to make fun of Catholic families that migrated over, aka Irish immigrants. The term was apparently used to make fun of Irish immigrant families, who had large numbers, lots of kids, and sometimes even children super close in age.

Despite its name, it’s not a widely recognized or accepted term in Ireland. It’s more of an American slang term that has been passed down through generations.

Is Irish Twins an Idiom?

Yes, today, the term is considered an idiom.

Other Ways of Saying Irish Twins

Keep in mind that no matter what way you say it, the term can still come across as offensive to some people in the Irish community. But here are some alternatives to the term Irish Twins that you can use.

  • Catholic twins
  • Dutch twins

These are still not literal twins or the kinds of twins we usually see, like monozygotic twins. These are just American terms used to describe siblings whose mothers only had a few months between pregnancies. 

Examples of Irish Twins in a Sentence

  • My sister and I are considered Irish Twins because we were born just 11 months apart.
  • Woah, they look so similar. Are they identical twins or fraternal twins? No, they’re actually Irish Twins.
  • My mom always joked that my brother and I were Irish Twins because we were so close in age and have the same curly hair.
  • I heard that the new couple in town has Irish Twins; they must have their hands full!
  • My cousin just had her second baby, but they’re going to be Irish Twins since they’re only 10 months apart.
  • I can’t believe I’m pregnant again after just giving birth a month ago. My kids will be Irish Twins, but that’s probably easier than having actual twins.

“It’s very possible we’ll have two under the age of 1,” the reality star revealed. “They’ll definitely be Irish twins!” (US Magazine)

Are You an Irish Twin?

So, while the term “Irish Twins may seem harmless or even endearing to some, you should definitely recognize that it can be seen as offensive and derogatory to others. It’s always a good idea to be mindful of the language you use in both conversation and writing and how it can impact those around you.