The Macmillan Dictionary Blog has been posting an interesting series of articles on English as it is spoken and used in various parts of the world. For their Irish-English week in January, I contributed a piece on the word smithereens. It focuses on the term’s etymology and usage, from its somewhat hazy beginnings in the early 19th century to its appearance in modern poetry and Disney musicals.
Though the origin of smithereens is slightly obscure, the term is widely thought to have come from smiodar (Irish for “fragment”) + ín (Irish diminutive suffix). This seems a likely route, but the full story is not so straightforward. Language development is anything but linear! To find out more, you can read the article here. You might also enjoy Macmillan’s growing list of resources on Irish English.