Irish Cultural Heritage

Ireland | Irishisms

We’re a unique bunch us Irish and we like to put our own mark on things, especially when it comes to language and slang.  Yes we do speak English, so we should be able to communicate easily with the other 335 million or so people who also speak English.  Yet some people claim when they visit this fair isle that it’s like we’re speaking another language.  To be honest there are times when I can’t even understand my fellow Irish man.  Yes we speak too fast at times and yes our accent can be strong and difficult to understand depending on what part of the country you’re in (I’ve been slagged for being well-spoken, as a Mayo person who’s well-spoken is a rare breed πŸ˜‚).  But it’s the slang words and phrases we use that flummoxes (puzzles) visitors.  So I’ve put together a list of my favourite slang words and phrases to help you on your travels through Ireland.

Craic

Meaning/Context: Pronounced crack and can mean two different things depending on the context.

Example:  What’s the craic?                                                                                                                                                              (How are you?)

That was great craic!                                                                                                                                                       (That was great fun!)

Banjaxed

Meaning: Broken

Example: The car is banjaxed!

Gason

Meaning: Boy

Example: You’re a great gason.

Locked

Meaning: Drunk

Example: I was locked last night!

Whisht

Meaning: Be quiet or shut up!

Example: Whisht will ya!

Quare

Meaning: Very, really or strange; depending on the context.

Example: She’s a quare (strange) one.

That’s quare (very/really) funny lads!

Yoke

Meaning: Thing

Example: Pass me that yoke there!

Cat

Meaning: Bad or awful

Example: The weather is cat.

Sound

Meaning/Context: Decent/dead on/good or can describe how you’re feeling.

Example: He’s sound!

“How are you?” “I’m sound!”

Stop the lights

Meaning/Context: Said in disbelief.

Example: “England lost the rugby match.” “Stop the lights!”

Sucking diesel

Meaning: We’re doing well at something or getting better at something. (I would often hear my granddad say this phrase ☺)

Example: Now we’re sucking diesel!

I will in me hole!

Meaning: No chance!

Example: I will in me hole get up and sing!

A great stretch in the evenings.

Meaning: The days are getting longer.

Example: There’s a great stretch in the evenings.

Ah here!

Meaning/Context: When something bad or stupid happens.

Example: “She lost her phone last night.” “Ah here!”

I’m scarlah (scarlet) for yah (you)!

Meaning: Embarrassed

Example: “Didn’t all of my clothes fall out of the suitcase!.” “I’m scarlet for you!”

Go on outa (out of) dat (that)!

Meaning: You’re joking me.

Example: “I spent the night stranded on a beach, I didn’t know where I was at first!” “Go on out of that!”

So I hope these little words and phrases will help you understand us better.  Do you have any favourite Irishisms?  Are there any I should add to the list?  Let me know!Marteen Lane (4)

A list of my favourite slang words and phrases used in Ireland. Do you have any favourite Irishisms?

178 thoughts on “Ireland | Irishisms”

    1. Awww thank you Rebecca 😊 Haha I work with a woman from Gorteen (outside Omagh) and I’ve learned so many words from her πŸ˜‚ And welcome to the blogging community! x

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  1. I really enjoyed reading this! I’m Irish-American, so I always enjoy learning new things about Ireland. My grandmother did used to say whisht. I’ve sadly never been to Mayo, the closest I’ve been to was Sligo, which I loved. I hope I’ll get a chance next time!

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    1. Thank you Stella 😊 That’s cool! Haha whisht is a very west of Ireland saying but we all don’t talk like this πŸ˜‚ Sligo is a beautiful county and big for surfing. I lived in Sligo town for a year. I read you’re from New York. I got to perform in Fordham University in the Bronx back in 2011. It was an amazing experience! 😊

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  2. This is great! Reminds of when I visit Newfoundland, the English they speak there has so many unique phrases and words. I dated 2 different Newfoundlanders for about a half a year each, and I still have trouble understanding Newfoundland English at times.

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    1. That’s interesting Jasmine as I received a letter from a new penpal who’s from Newfoundland and she said Newfoundland is the most Irish place in the world outside of Ireland. I’m dying to visit the place now 😊

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  3. I didn’t know these! I visited Ireland for the first time last summer (absolutely loved it, so will definitely be back!). I love sucking diesel! Haha I may have to start using that πŸ™‚

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    1. I’m so glad you loved Ireland Kaylene 😊 Haha sucking diesel was a saying I got from my granddad. Let me know people’s reactions of you start using that πŸ˜‚

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  4. Love this! It’s always good to know some of the local slang. If I ever get locked out of my hotel or car in Ireland, I definitely won’t be saying “I was locked last night!” πŸ˜‰

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    1. No that wouldn’t be a good idea Anshula 😊 But put ‘out’ in between ‘locked’ and ‘last’ to say ‘I was locked out last night’ we’d understand you were locked out of your room or somewhere else 😊

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    1. Glad you enjoyed reading it Ulli 😊 There might be something up on YouTube with some of those words so you could hear them 😊

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    1. I was poking a bit of fun at ourselves, we all don’t speak like this but there are the odd few who do 😊

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it 😊 You’re right it is the most difficult part of learning a language. Some words are definitely not Celtic. I’m not sure about the others but highly unlikely. To give you an example, Banjaxed is slang for broken. But broken in Irish is briste (brish-cha). Cat is slang for terrible or awful and in Irish that’s ΓΊfΓ‘sach (ewfawsack). To me the slang doesn’t sound Celtic or Irish.

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  5. Haha, this is a great list! I do use ‘craic’ and love when I hear ‘sound’ or ‘Ah here’, probably my two favourite expressions, but as a foreigner I am careful with slang. My accent still gives away I am not Irish and the mix of that and slang can come out as really weird πŸ™‚

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  6. I lived in Northern Ireland for 3 years and travelled plenty down south, but I’ve never heard some of these. Sucking diesel.. haha! So funny. When I first arrived in Belfast, it wasn’t just the lingo and the accent, but people speak so fast! It took me a while to get it down, and I’m English! Fun post!

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    1. Some of these words and phrases are regional. I had never heard of beur before until a few years ago when I heard my cousins from Co. Limerick saying it. It seems to be a relatively new slang word. And gosan, I got that from my ex-boyfriend’s grandmother in Cavan. Haha oh dear! There’s nothing worse when you can’t understand someone because they speak too fast. Thank you Hannah 😊

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  7. Please tell me you’ll launch a book of Irish slang??? It would be perfect! Or an online course to learn the accent (yes, I tried to read the post with an Irish accent…)

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    1. Haha there’s a specific website of Irish slang and it’s a treasure trove of words and phrases 😊 Oh gosh πŸ˜‚

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  8. This is a really great article. I was actually just reading about adopted American words that originated in Ireland. I was thinking about writing a little article on them, because they are such great words!

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    1. Thanks Stephanie 😊 Oh I’d love to read that! We have had a big influence on America since the time of the famine.

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  9. I’ve met quite a few Irish people abroad, but hadn’t heard of many of these, aside from “craic” and “sound.” I agree with everyone who says they’d like to hear them spoken–you should definitely make a video. I’d watch it!

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    1. Craic, sound and grand we speak a lot πŸ˜„ We all don’t speak like this but it’s fun to hear and read them. Will definitely work on a vlog to accompany this!

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  10. Well, that was very insightful!

    What’s the deal with the “cat”? Why is it bad or awful πŸ˜€

    I love these kind of phrases in all languages and dialects. They are what makes the speaker unique! And also when you hear something like that and don’t get the meaning, it’s a perfect ice-breaker to ask the person πŸ™‚

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    1. I haven’t a clue to be honest Mary. It’s something I’ve just accepted. I’ll have to investigate this 😊

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  11. I’m not an Irish but I enjoyed your post. Some sentences sound a bit odd. You must have a lot of fun when you use these slang words. I think it’s cute!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it 😊 The odd word or phrase I’d use but try not to use them when speaking with tourists 😊

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  12. Classic. We often talk when overseas of all the different forms of English. I’m Australian, but Americans quite often struggle with my accent. I too, with theirs. The “English” I find the hardest to understand though is Scottish. Takes me a lot of very careful listening when I’m amongst that crowd πŸ™‚

    Loved the slang words here. There were some really interesting ones.

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    1. Yes sometimes it can be quite difficult to understand someone with a Scottish accent. I love it though and the Welsh accent ☺

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  13. Too funny! Isn’t language fascinating? Even without the slang, I usually have to have subtitles on when I watch Irish movies. Usually by the end I can figure things out.

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  14. I visited Ireland for a month – this list makes me miss it! Got to hang out with some locals in a pub and got a true sense of WTF they call English!

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  15. It’s funny that when I started reading your post, I was imagining it being said in an Irish accent! πŸ™‚ I have an impression from movies that Ireland is such a charming place with interesting people. Based on this post, Irish sure are interesting!

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    1. Haha πŸ˜‚ A few people have said about making a video to go with it so I’ll get to work on that. I’m so glad that’s your impression of Ireland and Irish people 😊

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  16. Wow!! Simply mind blowing, apparently on one of my trips I met a Scottish guy, we all had a tough time getting used to his accent and slangs. Irish on the contrary is something that everyone wants to try but is not sure of doing so.
    Now guess I am Sucking diesel with these words.

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  17. Haha I wish I had read this a few weeks back prior to my trip to Dublin. You’re right – sometimes you guys speak a whole different language. I definitely struggled on more than one occasion to understand what was being said to me… and often I just settled for the nod and smile.

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    1. Certain words and phrases you won’t find said in Dublin. Some are regional to certain areas. Oh that sucks! I hope that won’t stop you from coming back again.

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  18. This is great and so funny! I love language so I always love posts like this. It reminds me of when I lived in Hawaii and I had to get used to all the local slang (pidgin) that they had there.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed reading it Sally 😊 Yes there are and I got them all from Home & Away πŸ˜‚

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  19. Haha these are great! When I visited Ireland I totally had a hard time understanding some people sometimes! Love the word for drunk ‘locked’ – it makes it sound a bit more classy, and like you are all in on your own little secret! Cool post!

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  20. He he he this made me giggle a lot! I used to have two Irish housemates so some of these I had heard before but many were brand new. I like “banjaxed” and may start working it into my regular vocabulary. I wonder if anyone will notice… πŸ˜‰

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    1. Thank you 😊 I’ll have to check out that post. I think Cockney slang is fascinating to listen to even though I haven’t got a clue what’s being said πŸ˜‚

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  21. I love fun little things like this! I studied linguistic anthropology and I can see similarities in American phrases as well! I think “I’m scarlah for yah” is my favorite! Cheers!

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    1. What an interesting course to study! Haha yeah that’s a good one. That’s a phrase specifically to Dublin 😊

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  22. This is freaking wild! I wish I had this guide to decipher what on earth everyone was saying when I visited Ireland! Luckily I had a good tow of locals for company who were happy to teach me the lingo. My favorite was “the craic is mighty!!” I love how much colloquial still exists in their take on the English language.

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  23. I love this! I love hearing different colloquialisms from around the world. My fave was “I will in me hole”. I don’t know why that tickles me so lol. Also “sucking diesel”…we say something similar here in the U.S. (the South). We say “Now we’re cooking with gas/grease”. Great post!

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    1. Haha yeah that’s a good one 😊 That’s so cool! That’s very similar. Thanks Colby 😊

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    1. Thank you Mark 😊 I’d love to read that! I have Home & Away to thank for some of the Australian slang I know 😊

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