‘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.)
Very interesting post as usual Stan. When I was growing up in West Clare in the 80s the word was in common usage, it was more common as a noun e.g. don’t mind that plámáser. Mentally I would class that word as a ‘country’ word. I can’t imagine that I would ever have used it when I lived in Dublin.
Maybe it has lost ground because of being such an obviously dialectal word. If words like shift are being replaced by snog I don’t imagine that direct loan words from Irish have much chance of survival in the longer term.
It is part of my speech, Stan and it didn’t travel to Newfoundland so now and again I have to translate it for locals which I find difficult to do as it very much stands on its own. Unique and evocative to me. Along with raimeis and a dozen or so others.
It is such a perfect word, though I am quite partial to the recent evolution of “plum-arse”.
I’ve never seen it written before Stan, thanks! I’ve certainly heard a fair few times
Aidan: I heard it more often in my childhood too, which was spent mostly in the rural west. I’ve hardly ever heard it in Galway city. Longer term, who knows? Some Irish loan words have gone global, like galore and smithereens. Plámás is unlikely to join them, but it could survive among a small number of users for a long while yet.
WWW: Delighted to know that it gets an airing in Newfoundland! Maybe it will spread a little there. It is a lovely word, though like you I’ve developed a sudden fondness for the scrambled form plum-arse.
Jams: A pleasure. Though I’ve nothing against the anglicised forms, the Irish plámás is how I always picture the word.
I heard this throughout my childhood–in California. My father (from Iowa) used it and I took it to have an entirely different meaning. Thanks for improving my memories of my father.
I tend to use regular colons too, Stan. It’s just easier than the little triangle marks. ;)
As usual, I’ve neither heard the word nor seen it written. Haven’t really had much contact with Irish people, though, so these dialectical colloquial terms usually don’t make it onto my radar.
Be nice to start using the new words that you introduce through your blog, though. Because if you don’t use it, you lose it. And it sounds like the sort of word that can be used in the right situation.
I shall endeavour to avoid plamasing people’s achievements. :)
Cheryl: You’re very welcome. I wonder if the word is still in use in California…
Tim: It’s not a common word at all, even in Ireland. But the person I heard using it was quite young, which was heartening. Great to see it used in Japan now! Note, though, that you wouldn’t plámás a person’s achievements; rather, you’d plámás the person.
[…] Plámás On highest mountains […]
[…] which also left its mark.Stan had some fascinating posts about Irish loan words in English such as plámás and cnáimhseáil . That got me thinking about some of the words my mother would use when I was a […]
maybe that is why Irish diplomats are renowned for their ‘di-plámás-cy’!
Good one, Deó!
That word is still part of my vocabulary. I always hear it being used around the Duhallow area of north County Cork where I’m from.
That’s good to hear, Rowan.
[…] Lest you think it’s all praise and plámás: […]
[…] she wouldn’t stand for to be chuffed up by any oul shleeveen. ‘Go way with yer plamas and yer grah-mo-crees,’ she tell them […]
[…] Regan maintains Cork have the best hurlers in Ireland but surely he’s just plamasing them. While Horgan, Harnedy and Lehane are excellent players and indeed there are others in that […]
[…] Plámás is an Irish word borrowed into Irish English meaning ‘empty flattery or wheedling’. It’s […]
I have just come across the word “plamas”on page 4 of Maeve Binchy’s Firefly Summer and had never heard of it before that, so it is interesting to read of its origins and uses.
Thanks for your visit, Hilary, and enjoy the book!
I am an Englishwoman working in the University of Limerick, and find this word used commonly, both at home in N. Tipp and even in the University. I came upon your blog when I was looking up how to spell it to include it in an email.
I’m glad to hear it’s in common use in your part of Ireland, Aileen – and that the post proved useful. I heard the word myself a couple of weeks ago.
The OED updated a batch of Irish English words in March 2022, and thanks to your blogs, I was able to greet some of their new entries as old friends: “plámás”, “ráiméis”, “to make a hames of”. For “plámás”, they accept the origin from “blancmange”: see their blog post on Flattery and incongruous mixtures in the Historical Thesaurus of the OED, which compares the metaphor of blancmange to other smooth and slippery metaphors like “soft soap” and “butter someone up”.
Thank you! I saw this update, and the HTOED commentary, and made some notes towards a possible post on the topic here. The OED’s efforts to broaden its range with more vocabulary from world Englishes, including Irish English, are very welcome. And I’m pleased that my old posts on plámás etc. had made a few of those words familiar to you.
[…] Irish words used in Irish English. I’ve written about some of these before (hames, notions, plámás, ráiméis, ruaille buaille); others include a chara, blow-in, bockety, ceol, ciotóg, cúpla […]