St. Patty’s Day vs. St. Paddy’s Day: Which Is Correct?

You can always avoid the issue by spelling out ‘St. Patrick’s Day,’ but here’s how to properly abbreviate it.
No wonder this pug is confused.
No wonder this pug is confused. / mlorenzphotography/Moment/Getty Images (pug), Jon Mayer/Mental Floss (thought bubble)

Since Paddy and Patty are usually pronounced the same way, it hardly matters whether you’re wishing someone a “Happy St. Paddy’s Day!” or a “Happy St. Patty’s Day!” aloud. If you’re writing it out, however, only one is technically correct.

The Right Way to Abbreviate St. Patrick’s Day

As Real Simple explains, Patrick is the Anglicized version of the Gaelic name Pádraig. Because St. Patrick’s Day is originally an Irish holiday—and Gaelic is a traditional Irish language—the right nickname is Paddy, rather than Patty. (Interestingly enough, St. Patrick himself wasn’t from Ireland, though he definitely did learn the language.)

St. Patty’s Day probably became popular in America because people heard “St. Paddy’s Day” and assumed it was spelled with a t, like St. Patrick. It may seem like a small distinction, but it’s a major pet peeve for many an Irish person scrolling through social media come March 17—so much so that one enterprising citizen, Marcus Campbell, even founded a website in 2010 called

Patty is the diminutive of Patricia, or a burger, and just not something you call a fella,” Campbell writes on the site.

St. Paddy‘s Day vs. St. Patty’s Day: Which Is More Popular in America?

In 2019, YouGov polled nearly 17,000 Americans with the question “Which of the following is the MOST correct abbreviation for Saint Patrick’s Day?” The respondents were given three options: “St. Paddy’s Day,” “St. Patty’s Day,” or “Don’t know.” Forty-nine percent chose St. Patty’s Day, while a mere 29 percent went with St. Paddy’s Day.

“Americans who claim a connection to Ireland through ethnic or cultural heritage are more likely than Americans overall to say St. Patrick’s Day should be called St. Paddy’s Day (39 percent), although they still tend to prefer to call it St. Patty’s Day (47 percent),” data journalist Linley Sanders wrote in a post about the poll. Older Americans also preferred St. Paddy’s Day to St. Patty’s Day (41 percent vs. 34 percent), while Americans aged 18 to 24 went with St. Patty’s (64 percent to 13 percent).

The Controversy Behind the Word Paddy

But before you text, tweet, or send a telegram with a jolly “Happy St. Paddy’s Day!” this year, you should know that the word Paddy has a bit of a contentious history. According to Merriam-Webster, it’s also sometimes used as a derogatory term for an Irish person—so if you’d rather forgo the nicknames altogether and just stick with St. Patrick’s Day, that’s fine, too.

You could also try your hand at it in Irish: It’s beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig ort. The video below from Bitesize Irish helps break down the pronunciation:

Wondering what else you might not know about the shamrock-filled holiday? Find out 13 fascinating facts here.

Read More Articles About the Irish Language Here:


A version of this story ran in 2020; it has been updated for 2024.