20 mad Belfast slang phrases that only make sense to locals

New to Northern Ireland’s capital? Here we’ve rounded up 20 common Belfast slang phrases and what they mean.

20 MAD Belfast slang phrases that only make sense to locals

Every area in Ireland has its own unique sayings and phrases, but you will hear so many slang words when you visit Belfast that you may be left wondering, is this even English? 

Many first-time visitors to the capital of Northern Ireland have expressed confusion when they hear seemingly needless words like “so it is” added on to the end of most sentences.

But never fear! We have rounded up some of the more common ones to help you navigate the unique local dialect. Here are 20 mad Belfast slang phrases that only make sense to locals.

Belfast slang is unique and confusing to outsiders

20. Gurn

To “gurn” is to complain or moan about something incessantly, as many Belfast locals like to do about the weather.

19. Boggin’

Disgusting. For example, “I’m not using that public toilet, it’s boggin’!”

18. Sure, this is it

Belfast people’s love of adding a string of unnecessary words to a conversation is rarely clearer than with this common phrase. This is generally said as a confirmation of what another has said, meaning “you are right.”

17. Norn Iron

Northern Ireland,” but spoken by someone with a wonderfully strong Belfast accent.

16. Buck eejit

A very silly person. This can be said jovially or as an expression of frustration at someone.

Belfast slang phrases include "buck eejit"
Credit: Tourism NI

15. Wee

Perhaps the most frequently used phrase by Belfast locals, “wee” can be used before almost any word you can think of. Although generally meaning “small,” it is also used as a term of endearment; for example, “wee love” or “wee pet.”

14. Courtin’

If you are courtin’ someone, it means you are dating them. It’s not too serious yet, but if it keeps going like this, it just might be.

13. Bout Ye?

This is generally used as a greeting—a way of saying “How are you?”

12. Up to high doh

“She’s up to high doh since she found out she’s pregnant!” This means someone is extremely excited about something.

11. A score

This is Northern Irish slang for a £20 note.

Slang for a 20-pound note is "a score" in Belfast
Credit: Tourism NI

10. Baltic

Cold, chilly, freezing—all words that sum up Belfast during the darker half of the year.

9. Banjaxed

As in, “The car is banjaxed after the accident.” Generally this means destroyed to the point of being unusable. It can also refer to someone who has had too much to drink.

8. Foundered

See “Baltic” (#10). Northern Ireland is not generally known for its warm weather, so you’ll often hear this phrase being used to illustrate just how cold a person is.

7. So it is

This phrase doesn’t strictly have a solid meaning other than to add extra weight to the phrase said before it; for example, “It’s Baltic in here, so it is.” You’ll be hard-pressed to visit Belfast for any length of time and leave without hearing these words at least once. Other examples: “She’s lovely, so she is” and “I’m foundered, so I am.”

6. Oh Mummy

This can be said as a response to something shocking or difficult to believe. Incidentally, it can be said to any individual, not just your mother.

The capital of Northern Ireland has its own unique colloquialisms
Credit: Tourism NI

5. Dead on

As in, “that fella is dead on.” The phrase is used to mean generally good natured, without malice or ill-will.

4. Ats us nai

Perhaps one of the more confusing Belfast slang phrases to anybody who has never heard it before, this phrase is essentially “That’s us now,” said in a strong Belfast accent. Translated even further, the speaker is communicating that “we have completed the task at hand.”

3. Yeo

Sometimes spoken as “YeeeeOOooo” for extra emphasis, this is generally an expression of excitement in response to a much loved song, or on hearing a piece of news you are particular happy about.

2. Dander

Slang for a short walk. “I went for a wee dander around town.”

1. Here’s me wha?

While often confusing for non-locals, this phrase simply means “What?” or “Pardon?”. While visitors to the city are welcome to adopt it, this one really does work best when spoken in a broad Belfast accent.

If you aren’t from Belfast, it might take a while for you to wrap your head around some of the slang phrases you’ll hear around this fine city. But don’t worry, with the help of this guide you’ll be talking like one of the locals in no time, so you will.

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