Irish Slang for beginners

After moving to France and meeting people from Australia, US & UK in my school I’ve realised that the way I speak undoubtedly proves I’ve lived in Ireland for some time.

When I came to Ireland, the first expression I’ve struggled with was ‘thanks a million‘ which I understood as ‘thanks Emilian‘. I concluded that Emilian was some Irish saint (I’ve just moved to catholic Ireland right?!) and it was some sort of blessing. I’ve learnt soon it meant just ‘thank you very much’.

Then was ‘pennys‘. I will disappoint you. It has nothing to do with a human body. You can hear it from girls/women when you compliment them on their clothes, shoes or jeweler. No, it’s not thank you neither. Pennys is a high street shop, one of the cheapest and very popular among Irish. In UK it’s called Primark.  Watch the You know when you’re Irish to see how it is used (0.17).

And finally ‘grand‘  – one of the most useful words you can imagine. Means: ok, fine.

  • How are you feeling today? – Ah, I’m grand thanks.
  • Here’s a hot cup of tea. – Grand, thanks.
  • Do you want some black pepper? – No, I’m grand, thanks.
  • Do you need help? – No, I’ll be grand.

Here are some of the phrases and words I actually use! Enjoy!

  • Bang on – Correct, perfectly accurate.
  • Black stuff – Stout.  A pint of the black stuff, please.
  • Brutal – Terrible, awful. That movie you recommended was brutal!
  • Craic – Fun. NOT DRUGS!!! It’s always great craic in Dicey’s.

  • Culchie – A person whose birthplace is beyound Dublin city limits. This is a pub for culchies, let’s go somewhere else. 
  • Deadly – Great, brilliant, fantastic.
  • Desperate – Dreadful, awful.
  • Eejit – Idiot, imbecile, somebody stupid, a moron. You eejit! I asked you to bring me a pint of black stuff not lager! 
  • Fair play! – Well done! You got a promotion? Fair play!
  • Feck – Politically correct term for f**k. Feck off you eejit! / Feckin’ coffee machine is down again!
  • Gaff – Home, place where you live.  Next Friday party in my gaff lads! 
  • Gas – Amusing, funny. You are gas! Can’t believe you said to the teacher she can FECK OFF!
  • Gobshite – Person with below average IQ. The last prime minister was a gobshite! 
  • Howaya – Hi, hello.
  • Jacks – Toilet. Where’s the jacks?
  • Jammers – Extremely crowded. This culchie place was jammers last night! 
  • Jaysus! – Jesus Christ. Ah, Jaysus, not you again!
  • Kip – A place, pub with poor reputation. Don’t tell me we are going to that kip again!
  • Lash – To rain heavily. It didn’t stop lashing for days, that’s what you call Irish summer!
  • Leg it – to run away. Just leg it if she doesn’t look as hot as on Tinder!
  • Manky – Disgusting, dirty. The gaff advertised on Daft(website used to find accommodation) I went to see was manky. Desperate! 
  • Massive – Great, fantastic. Oh, your baby is massive!
  • Mortified – Highly embarrassed. I was mortified when she puked on the Luas (Tram) on the way to town!
  • Mot – girlfriend. His mot follows him everywhere.
  • Scarlet – Embarrassed, blushing. I went scarlet when I realised 
  • Shite – Poor quality, bad. Why did you buy this shite? 
  • Slag – Make fun of someone in a lighthearted manner. John was slagging me again about going out with this eejit!
  • Wagon – Unattractive female. Can’t believe he ended up with this wagon! 
  • Wrecked – Very tired, worn out. I am wrecked after studying for my exams. 

Let’s finish with a deadly video from Republic of Tely

You know when you’re Irish

You can find more in the book ‘Irish Slang’ by Colin Murphy and Donald O’Dea.

Big thank you to Shauna English for the inspiration (and the book) and Darren Fitzpatrick & John Anthony Reid for introducing me to most of the above! Thanks a mill!

Let me know if I missed anything important and what’s your favourite!

More on Ireland

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