When I sat down to write a blog on Irish slang words and phrases, I realised that the list would be endless, so I’ve picked out a few of the most common ones.
Even though Ireland is a very small country, there are many slang words and phrases that are only used in certain places. For example, “well”, as a greeting, is really only used in certain parts of the country; if you say it in Dublin, people will probably laugh at you. But most of these are widely spoken. For example, the word “deadly” meaning “cool” is used all the time (but “deadly” also means “dangerous”, so people from other countries may get confused – and it’s really funny when they do!)
Some of them, such as “How are ya horse?” and “Top of the mornin’” are always said in a joking manner, and usually with a stereotypical Irish accent. And, as I’m sure happens with slangs in all countries, these are very familiar expressions, and should only be used with friends or people you know. If you go for a job interview and greet them with “How are ya horse?”, it’s unlikely they will ever call you back. Although maybe… if they have a good sense of humour! :)
By the way: there is a very popular Irish TV show from 1995 called “Father Ted”. It’s a very funny show and they use lots of Irish slangs and expressions in it! Well worth a watch if anyone is interested in learning a few Irish slangs!
(Note from the editor: remember that, in informal, fluent English, people sometimes pronounce “you” as “ya” and pronounce -ing words like “going” or “walking” as “goin’” and “walkin’”, among other peculiarities. So, for example, instead of saying “I am watching a movie with them”, people might say “I’m watchin’ a movie with ‘em”; and instead of “What are you doing here?”, people might say “Whaddaya doin’ ‘ere?”. Teacher Roisin used this kind of language in her examples because these expressions are very informal.)
Enjoy the list!
|Slang word/phrase||Meaning||In a sentence|
|Acting the maggot||Acting the fool||Ah, he was actin’ the maggot last night!|
|Ah, sure, go on!||Go ahead||– Will you have a cup of tea?
– Ah, sure, go on!
|Back-arse of nowhere!||Middle of nowhere (or countryside)||– Where are ya?
– I dunno, I’m in the back-arse of nowhere!
|Bleedin’||Intensifier; similar to American “freaking”||I’m bleedin’ starvin’!I’m bleedin’ knackered!|
|Cop on!||Stop being stupid||Ah, will ya cop on and stop messin’!|
|Craic (pronounced “crack”)||Fun||That was some craic!|
|Deadly||Cool||Aw, that film was deadly!|
|Divil a bit!||No news; same old, same old||– Have ya any news?
– Nah, divil a bit!
|Donkey’s years||A long time||Ah, he’s been around for donkey’s years!|
|Eat the head off||To angrily tell someone off||The teacher ate the head off me yesterday!|
|Eejit (pronounced almost like “Egypt”, but without the P)||Idiot||He’s some eejit!|
|Fair||Really||That’s fair annoyin’.It’s fair cold out today.|
|Fair play to ya!||Good job; congratulations||That’s a great idea! Fair play to ya!|
|Gaff||House||My gaff isn’t too far from here!|
|Gas||Really funny||Hahaha! That’s gas!|
|Go away outta that!||I don’t believe you!||What, she lives here now?! Go away outta that!|
|Grand||Good; okay||The weather is grand today.- How are you?
– I’m grand, thanks!
|Happy out!||Really happy||Ah, I was happy out, so I was!|
|How are ya horse!||Hello!|
|How’s she cuttin’?||How are you?||How are ya horse! How’s she cuttin’?|
|I will in me hole!||I will not!||– Will you cut the grass please…?
– I will in me hole!
|Janey Mac!||To communicate surprise||Janey Mac, it’s rainin’!|
|Knackered Banjaxed||Really tired||I’m going to stay at home, I’m knackered.I’m going to bed, I’m banjaxed.|
|Langers Locked PlasteredScuttered||Really drunk||I was absolutely langers/locked/plastered/scutteredlast night!|
|Lashing||Raining really heavily||It’s lashin’ out today|
|Lousy||Unfair||Ah, that’s lousy!That’s fair lousy!(Remember: “fair” here means “really”!)|
|Me auld flower! (pronounced “old”)||My darling;my sweetheart||Ah, come here to me, me auld flower!|
|Me da||My father|
|Me ma||My mother||I went away to visit me da and me ma down in Cork last week!|
|Me fella||My boyfriend||Me fella is Brazilian.|
|Me mot Me bird||My girlfriend||I met me mot/bird in a pub in London!|
|Ride||A very attractive person||Wow, he’s some ride!|
|Scab||A cheap person; someone who’s mean with their money||He never pays for anything, he’s some scab.|
|Scarlet||Really embarrassed||Oh my God, I was so scarlet!|
|ShiftWear the face (off someone)||To French-kiss||He shifted her last night!They were wearin’ the face off each other last night!|
|Shut your gob!||Be quiet; close your mouth||Shut your gob, will ya?!|
|Spa Tool SapDope||Fool||He’s some spa/tool/sap/dope, ain’t he?|
|Spuds||Potatoes||Could ya pass me the spuds, please?|
|Stop the lights!||No way! I don’t believe you!||– He said I looked fat.- Stop the lights! Really?!|
|The flicks||The cinema||Is there anything good on at the flicks? (only older people say this)|
|The jacks The bog||The toilet||Where’s the jacks/the bog?|
|Top of the mornin’!||Good morning!||Top of the mornin’ to ya!|
|What’s the craic?! (pronounced “crack”)||What’s up?||Well, girl! What’s the craic?!|
|Whist!||Shhhh! Listen!||Whist! I think I hear him…|
|Ya bleedin’ muppet!||You fool||Oh, ya bleedin’ muppet!|
– Teacher Roisin