‘Don’t mind his plámásing.’
I heard someone say this on the Promenade in Salthill recently. It means: ‘Pay no attention to his flattery.’ Don’t and mind were merged, so the phrase sounded like /do:’maɪndɪz ’plɔ:mɔ:sən/.
Plámás /’plɔ:mɔ:s/ [‘plaw-mawse’] is an Irish noun and verb used in Hiberno-English; it means empty flattery, ingratiating talk, disingenuous praise. I’ve seen it anglicised as plaumause, plamause, and plawmass, or simply by dropping the accents.
It’s a word familiar to me since childhood, but I hear it only occasionally. A plámáser or plámásaí /’plɔ:mɔ:si:/ is a person engaging in plámás, while plámásach /’plɔ:mɔ:səx/ (‘flattering’) is the adjectival form. Here are some examples of its use.
Christopher Nolan, in The Banyan Tree:
now his big plámásing smile was back on
Eamonn Sweeney, Waiting for the Healer:
At midday, the inspector arrives. He is tall and thin and has the air of a true bureaucrat. Da tries to plámás him with coffee and some teacake I bought in the local shop.
A photo caption on a travel blog:
Eoghan plamasing the local women to get a cup of butter tea…
The Laois Nationalist:
On her re election as assistant treasurer Evelyn Dunne had words of support from her chairman Dick Miller: ‘She wont go out of her way to plaumause you or endear herself to you but I guarantee you she does the work.’
The blog Hunter S. Thompson Books:
Hunter S. Thompson a friend of the Mitchell brothers drifts in and out of this story. Reading it I can imagine him bounding around with his usual bow-legged gait, doing what he did best – plamasing everyone in sight, looking like he owned the place.
A quip on the IrishDogs community forum, in response to someone looking for a lift for a dog:
yeah plamause your way in there ;-)
A comment at the Irish Left Review:
Instead of the usual plamasach self-pitying oul’ guff which passes for analysis on the Irish Left…
A comment at Indymedia Ireland:
Concealing your argument with vague allusions and references without ever clarifying your point might impress and plaumause those already on your side, but it will only alienate everybody else.
Tom Mac Intyre in The Charollais, cited in Bernard Share’s Slanguage:
‘We are, in no sense, boasting.’
‘Shur I know ye’re not, m’lord — I always knew ye’d go places, an’ I’m not just plawmassin’ ye now.’
The origin of plámás is unknown. One suggestion is that it’s a corrupted form of blanc-mange, but the link seems tenuous. There’s a related word plásaí /’plɔ:si:/ (plausy, plauzy, plausey, plossey), which can mean either flattery or flatterer. See the previous link for examples.
When plámás was mentioned in the London Review of Books (1999), it prompted a letter with this amusing comment:
It is a word my Irish mother often uses in a verbal mode. I’d always thought it was ‘plum-arse’, as in ‘You’d think that Tony Blair could plum-arse them all into agreement, he’s certainly got the mouth for it.’
I wonder if this line was borrowed verbatim. Plum-arse probably qualifies as an eggcorn, but it’s unlikely to gain any currency given the original term’s scarcity. Even in Ireland, plámás isn’t in common usage: an enthusiastic commenter on Boards.ie from Gorey, Co. Wexford thought plámás was a word his mother had invented.
(To mark long vowels in IPA, I’ve used ordinary colons instead of the standard triangular marks, because WordPress isn’t rendering the latter clearly.)