I"ve make the efforts to figure out what the an interpretation of this really is and also how to properly respond, however there appears to be dozens that interpretations as to what this phrase actually means.

You are watching: Top of the mornin to ya

Does anyone know what the origin and also original meaning of this expression is?



I simply said this in a post to a friend in N.I., and she came straight earlier with "and the rest of the day to yourself". I'd never ever heard this before - so came looking!
The phrase is ireland in origin however now really rarely offered in Ireland (except together a sterotypical "Irishism"). It simply method "the ideal of the morning come you" - possibly from the idea the unhomogenised milk, wherein the cream rises come the top. An appropriate solution might it is in a simple "thank you" although the traditional an answer would be "And the remainder of the day come yourself."

Terrible attempts at irish accents, dancing a jig and also leprechaun costumes are entirely optional while speak this.


This was offered in Theodore Cyphon, or, The benevolent Jew: a novel, Volume 3 through George Walker, released in 1796. The protagonist is greeted not lengthy after landing ~ above the shore of Essex:


"Halloo ! friend teney" cry one, " the top of the morning to you. Have you seen pass a high chap, in a irradiate blue coat, through striped trowsers."


The phrase emerges from two related meanings of "top," was a common greeting throughout the united kingdom in the 19th century, and also fell out of use just to be revived as a so-called ireland expression by American filmmakers trying to find ways to identify Irish characters.

The Oxford rebab.net dictionary lists "top that the morning" under "Top, n.1," 17.a., wherein top means "The best or choicest part; the cream, flower, pick. Currently esp. In the height of the morning, together an ireland morning greeting (cf. 13)." (13 refers to a temporal definition for top: "Of time: The earliest part of a period; the beginning.") It"s feasible for either among these meanings of "top" to come right into play, even in a punning sense: the ideal of the morning and the beginning of the morning. I indicate that both meanings may it is in enmeshed together.

An instance of the early use that "top" referring to cream is in a sermon top top vanity by Anglican bishop Ezekiel Hopkins (d. 1690), offered originally in 1668:

"The soul, next to angels, is the an extremely top and cream of the whole creation."

This idiomatic use would occupational its way into a greeting over the following century. Ns agree v the lexicographers for the OED in group this meaning with "top that the morning" used in other early on greetings.

That said, there are at an early stage sources attesting to "top the the morning" being a duration of time rather than a greeting. Below is john Worlidge in A compleat mechanism of husbandry and gardening (London, 1716), p. 143:

<...> especially if thrive near together, castle afford a an extremely pleasant dark shade, and also perfume the waiting in the months of June and July with their fragrant Blossoms, and also entertain a mellifluous army of Bees, indigenous the height of the Morning, till the cool and dark night compels their return.

This feels prefer a description of time, noting when the bees will be out amongst the trees. The intake as a temporal referral comes up again in ~ the end of the century in a book titled Vocal harmony. Funny fellow"s companion, a arsenal of songs published in the last decade of the eighteenth century (p.5, "The tiny Jew"):

"TWAS the optimal of the morning for this reason pleasant and clear ...

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The phrase creates a setting for an otherwise mundane song.

So just how did this temporal marker become an idiomatic ireland greeting? Evidence suggests there was an intermediate duration where the expression to be used past Ireland, like in Scotland. Below is prick Ostler in teacher Walter Scott"s The heart of Mid-Lothian (1818), ch. 29, speaking to the heroine together she travels near York:

Dick Ostler, that either had actually risen at an early stage or neglected to walk to bed, either circumstance being equally occurrence to his calling, hollowed the end after she — “The peak of the morning to you, Moggie. Have a treatment o’ Gunderby Hill, young one. Robin Hood’s dead and also gwone, but there be takers however in the vale of Bever."

Dick is nearly certainly a short Scot or a working course man in the north of England (where this part of the novel takes place). This makes his rotate of phrase curious: Scott probably relied top top his audience discovering this together a Scot or popular idiom. Similarly, the circumstances from George Walker"s gothic novel Theodore Cyphon, or, The benevolent Jew: a novel, Volume 3, an initial published in 1796, functions the idiom spoken not by Irish world in Ireland, yet a group of "four sturdy men, whose countenances wore every lineament of hard inhumanity," about nine miles up the roadway from landing in Essex.

What, then, made this expression irish or Irish-American? perhaps only because the expression survived among Irish (and Irish-American) speaker longer? Blogger and amateur dialect researcher Ben T. Smith defines how the expression is much more archaic than Irish, a form that persisted throughout British and also Irish varieties of rebab.net v at the very least the victorian period. By the early 20th century, meanwhile, a guidebook to ireland speech (rebab.net together We Speak it in Ireland, by P.W. Joyce, 1910) defines the greetings for an excellent morning, wherein top that the morning bring away a backseat to an additional common greeting:

"To the ordinary salutation, "Good-morrow," i m sorry is heard everywhere, the usual solution is "Good-morrow kindly." "Morrow Wat," claimed Mr. Loyd. "Morrow kindly," responded Wat. ("Knocknagow.") "The height of the morning come you" is claimed everywhere, North and also South." (15)

However, it had fallen out of use by the moment that mid-20th century American filmmakers had actually picked it up together an irish colloquialism, choose in the Disney movie Darby O"Gill and also the tiny People or in the music that Bing crosby in the movie Top o" the Morning (1949). It had actually dropped so totally out the the irish lexicon that an irish publication would certainly look in ~ the phrase and explain, "Hollywood invention, never used in Ireland." (Perhaps they need to revise the to "not just used in Ireland.") Its renewal is mainly due to Irish-American speaker rediscovering your heritage in an American irish film stereotype based upon an archaism once common throughout England, Scotland, and also Ireland.