Denotation vs. Connotation


[mur-fee] /ˈmɜr fi/ Slang.
noun, plural murphies.
an Irish or white potato.
any of various confidence games in which a victim is left with a sealed envelope supposedly containing money, but which contains only newspaper or scrap paper cut to the same size as paper money.
verb (used with object), murphied, murphying.
to victimize or dupe in such a manner.
Origin of murphy
1805-15; special uses of Murphy, a typical Irish surname


[mur-fee] /ˈmɜr fi/
Frank, 1890–1949, U.S. statesman and jurist: associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court 1940–49.
Isaac, 1861–96, U.S. thoroughbred racehorse jockey.
William Parry [par-ee] /ˈpær i/ (Show IPA), 1892–1987, U.S. physician: Nobel Prize in medicine 1934. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for murphy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • murphy meanwhile lay curled up tight on his corner of the hearthrug, with his eyes wide open, watching every movement intently.

    'Murphy' Major Gambier-Parry
  • Two only lie in this grave, Mr. murphy and a lady who died of fever.

  • murphy put in a miserable hour over the primus melting snow.

    The Home of the Blizzard Douglas Mawson
  • murphy cast one despairing glance about him and slouched to his undoing.

    Old Man Curry Charles E. (Charles Emmett) Van Loan
  • Scarcely had the door closed on murphy, than Rodolph, covering his face with his hands, uttered a heavy groan.

British Dictionary definitions for murphy


noun (pl) -phies
a dialect or informal word for potato
Word Origin
C19: from the common Irish surname Murphy


Alex. born 1939, English rugby league player and coach; scored 16 tries in 27 test matches for Great Britain (1958–71)
Eddie, full name Edward Regan Murphy. born 1951, US film actor and comedian. His films include 48 Hours (1982), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Coming to America (1988), Dr Dolittle (1998), and, as a voice artist, the Shrek series of animated films (2001–10)
William Parry. 1892–1987, US physician: with G. R. Minot, he discovered the liver treatment for anaemia and they shared, with G. H. Whipple, the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine in 1934
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for murphy


Gaelic Murchadh "sea-warrior." The Celtic "sea" element is also in names Muriel (q.v.), Murdoch (Old Irish Muireadhach, Old Welsh Mordoc "mariner"), etc. Murphy bed (1925) is named for U.S. inventor William Lawrence Murphy (1876-1959). By happy coincidence, Murphy was an illiterate 18c.-19c. perversion of Morpheus, god of sleep.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
murphy in Medicine

Murphy Mur·phy (mûr'fē), William Parry. 1892-1987.

American physician. He shared a 1934 Nobel Prize for discovering that a diet of liver relieves anemia.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for murphy



  1. A potato (1811+)
  2. A confidence game in which the victim is left with a sealed envelope supposed to contain something valuable, but in fact filled with blank paper (1960s+ Underworld)
  3. wedgie (1980s+ Students)


: Mayor Smitherman was ''murpheyed'' by the Negro confidence man

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for murphy

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for murphy

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for murphy