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Origin uncertain; the following possible etymologies have been suggested:
- From Scottish English gurry (“a brawl; to dispute; to growl, grumble”) + -er (suffix indicating a person or thing that does an action indicated by the root verb).
- From French guerrier (“warrior”).
- From Irish English gur cake (“confection consisting of a thick layer of fruit-based filling between two thin layers of pastry, often eaten by poor children”) + -er.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈɡʌ.ɹɪ.ə/, /ˈɡəː-/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈɡə.ɹɪ.ɚ/
- (Ireland) IPA(key): /ˈɡʌ.ɹi.ɚ/
- Rhymes: -ʌɹiə(ɹ)
- Hyphenation: gur‧ri‧er
- (dated) A street urchin. [from 1950s]
- 2002 January 31, Paul Bradford, “Private Members’ Business. – Crime Levels: Motion Resumed.”, in Dáil Éireann Debates (Houses of the Oireachtas), volume 547, archived from the original on 13 September 2018, column 870:
- Some weeks ago I was a victim of crime within 150 yards of the gates of Leinster House. I was approached or set upon by a little gurrier with a syringe. It is not a pleasant experience to have someone push a syringe against one's face at 12.30 a.m. on the streets of Dublin, particularly when one is within a stone's throw of the seat of Administration.
- A loutish young man; a ruffian. [from 1950s]
- 1966, Seamus De Burca, The Irish Digest, volume 86, number 3, Dublin: Irish Digest, OCLC 8864246, page 25:
- The Garda sergeant wanted to know the distinction between a Gouger and a Gurrier. Mr. Howard, who was a true-blue Dubliner, supplied the answer: "A Gurrier is a little man cut short, a mickey dazzler. He cuts a dash among the girls and is always willing and able to strike a blow for a pal. But our Gurrier, unlike the Gouger, never gets into trouble with the police."
- 1970, Edna O’Brien, A Pagan Place: A Novel, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: Mariner Books, 2001, →ISBN, page 121:
- She said the gentleman in question was nothing but a gurrier. She went into details over his garb and his accent. He wore a blazer with brass buttons and his trousers were gray flannel. He was the sporting type. His accent she said had to be heard to be believed, likewise his impertinence. She called him a pup. Then she said gurrier. Then she reverted to pup.
- 1983, Benedict Kiely, compiler, Dublin (Small Oxford Books), Oxford: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 3:
- People from other parts of Ireland refer to Dubliners as Jackeens or Gurriers. Jackeen in the city always meant a cunning, loudmouthed, ignorant youth: while Gurrier was a term of approbation. In the Thirties and Forties to be a Great Little Gurrier was to be a bosom friend, a fine fellow, a taproom companion: but today it has been debased and is the equivalent of a bowsey or a gouger.
- 1994, Joseph O’Connor, The Secret World of the Irish Male, Dublin: New Island Books, →ISBN, page 149:
- The old man told me that James Joyce was nothing but a dirty little pup who had never done a decent day's work in his life, a dirty little gurrier who had run Ireland down for money; these were the actual words he used. James Joyce had "run Ireland down for money," the old man said, "and he had told dirty lies about Irish history."
street urchin — see street urchin