St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! Soon Americans will be wearing green clothes, eating traditional corned beef and cabbage, and drinking green beer. What a strange–and fun–holiday! To prepare our students for this celebration, we have some St. Patrick’s Day and Irish-related vocabulary and idioms. Enjoy!



The name of the country where St. Patrick’s Day originated. People from Ireland are called “Irish”.

Emerald Isle

A nickname for Ireland. Emerald is a green gemstone.


A plant with three round leaves. It is the symbol of Ireland and is used to represent St. Patrick’s Day.


A mythical creature from old Irish tales. The leprechaun is associated with creating mischief.

Pot of Gold

Irish mythology says that there is a leprechaun with a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Good luck finding the end of a rainbow! Have you ever seen one?

Corned Beef 

Surprisingly, there isn’t any “corn” in “corned beef.” Corned beef is actually a salted beef, and the word “corn” comes from the large pieces of salt that look like corn kernels which are used to salt the beef. Corned beef is a dish traditionally eaten on St. Patrick’s Day in the United States. You will find it on many restaurant menus, but just for one day! Usually it is served with a side of cabbage.



On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone wears green. What happens if you don’t wear green? People can pinch you! Ouch! Because the color green is closely associated with St. Patrick’s Day, we are offering a list of idioms with the word “green.”

  • to give someone the green light: to give permission to go ahead with a project. “My boss gave me the green light on our new project. I can’t wait to start!”
  • to have a green thumb: a have a talent for making things grow. “Wow, your garden is incredible! You really have a green thumb!”
  • green with envy: to be very jealous, full of envy. “When I saw his beautiful new car, I was green with envy.”
  • to be green around the *gills: to look very sick. “He looked really green around the gills after the roller coaster ride.”
  • green-eyed monster: a feeling of jealousy. “The green-eyed monster always comes out when a co-worker gets a raise and I do not.”
  • to be green: to be inexperienced at something. “I am still green at tennis, but I enjoy playing it!”
  • grass is always greener on the other side – a place that is different seems better than where we are now. “I wish I had your job. It looks like so much fun.” “Well, my job might seem great, but it definitely is difficult. But you know… the grass is always greener on the other side!”

*Gills: the small slits on the side of a fish. The fish breathes through the gills.

Before heading out to drink some green beer, study a little for IELTS Writing Module with our sample writing prompt for Task 1 of the exam. Remember that in the Writing Task 1, you must write a summary (150 words minimum) of a visual chart or graph. You must select and report the main ideas, describe and compare the data from the charts, and also illustrate how you can identify trends or important information from a chart (or, if you can describe a process).

To further refresh what an IELTS Writing exam is like, click here.


You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The map below shows the population of Americans with Irish ancestry from  2009 to 2013.  

Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information shown below.

Write at least 150 words.

US Census
Map courtesy of the US Census.