The word "D'Arvit" in the Artemis Fowl series is the cuss word in Gnommish, used in dire situations by the protagonists. But the Urban Dictionary (which was used as a source for the answer to What does D'Arvit mean?, answering that the alleged Gaelic source below might be what is meant) claims (NSFW link!):

Despite popular belief D'arvit was not the creation of popular Irish author Eoin Colfer. In the Aran islands their is a legend that a dark banshee (Banshee which goes against the laws of magic) will rip your soul from your body when your alone regardless of whether your dieing or not and u feel a chill run up your spine a dark banshee is near and the only way to protect yourself would be to utter "Dh'ábhoit". The folklore was told all over the provinces of Connacht and Munster but during the English conquest by Henry the VIII. It was anglicized as "d'arvit".which is pronounced the same as the original and now its mainly used in Gaeltacht of Connacht as a form of a curse or cuss, in english or Gaelic (Irish).

Urban Dictionary is hardly a reliable source, true, but I can't seem to find anything either in support or refuting this.

Did Eoin Colfer coin the word or not? How accurate is the claim that it came from Gaelic?

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    @Fifth_H0r5eman - nope, that just gives the quote I put in the question. I'm asking about the accuracy of that quote.
    – Mithical
    Jun 19, 2018 at 12:50
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    The quoted derivation makes no sense. In traditional lore a banshee merely fortells death, and does not cause it. What would a dark banshee be? How would it go against the laws of magic? Are there even any laws of magic in Celtic folklore?
    – Adamant
    Jun 21, 2018 at 6:52
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    @Mithrandir - Asking another question to get an answer to a previous question with a bad answer isn't a great idea. You are really supposed to post a bounty. Clearly "Where did w
    – Adamant
    Jun 21, 2018 at 11:39
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    Clearly "Where did word come from?" and "Did author create word?" are essentially asking the same thing.
    – Adamant
    Jun 21, 2018 at 11:44
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    They are very similar, and answers will tend to be nearly identifical. Consider that the previous answer were it correct would directly address your question.
    – Adamant
    Jun 21, 2018 at 11:48

1 Answer 1


As per my prior answer, the only evidence that the basis is Celtic folklore and/or Irish language comes from wikis and the Urban Dictionary. Google's NGram viewer does not do Irish currently. French comes up with occasional usage, but doing a bit of further searching seems to indicate that it's generally a surname, "D'Arvit". The only other possibility I've found is that Arvit is Hebrew for an evening prayer, also known as Maariv.

So, from the perspective of lack of evidence, I think it's reasonable to assume that Eoin Colfer indeed made up the word for his books, although it is possible that he drew inspiration from seeing the surname somewhere and thinking it sounded right as a new curse word.

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    There's a Google Books search result for a Doctor Who story (A Big Hand For The Doctor), also written by Eoin Colfer, containing "D'Arvit" as a swear/curse word. I don't know whether that adds any clarity to the situation, though. Jun 21, 2018 at 15:28
  • @AnthonyGrist: Good catch, although that story looks to date to 2013, so I think it's more an author including a joke referring to one of his prior books.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 21, 2018 at 16:08
  • It's actually quite funny, when people are trying to rustle up a prayer quorum, they'll sometimes stand outside on the street calling, "Arvit! Arvit!" And nobody else understands why I'm chuckling to myself.
    – Shaul Behr
    May 16, 2019 at 15:07

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