20 mad Dublin slang phrases that only make sense to locals

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

Dublin is the capital of Ireland and a fantastic place to visit. The city centre is packed with culture and history as well as an impressive selection of restaurants and bars.

Music and craic flood the cobbles of Temple Bar every weekend while the rhythmic sound of street traders is a familiar lilt on Moore Street. Explore further afield to find stunning stretches of sand, quaint fishing ports, and friendly locals.

Irish accents vary up and down the country, with Dublin slang having a unique twang. Here are 20 Dublin slang phrases that may leave you puzzled but are, in classic IB4UD style, helpfully translated by a true Dub!

Dublin slang phrases can be confusing to outsiders

20. Howaya!

Simply translated as ‘How are you,’ this Dublin phrase is commonly used as a greeting in the capital. Despite its appearance as a question, ‘Howaya’ does not require a lengthy response, and the person is not asking for any details of how you actually are.

A simple response of ‘grand’ or a reciprocal ‘Howaya’ will suffice. ‘Howaya’ can often be heard as ‘Howayis’ when more than one person is being addressed.

19. That yung wan

Dublin slang to describe any young woman or girl, ‘yung wan’ is often used in a gossipy setting where ‘that yung wan up the road’ is being discussed.

It can also be used to talk about people’s children (for example, ‘Is that Mary’s yung wan?’) or even to attract someone’s attention in a public place, often in a raised voice. ‘Here yung wan! Come over here!’ It is probably best not to approach any group calling you in this manner.

Dublin slang phrases are often part of the craic on out a night out in Dublin

18. He’s a bleedin’ dope

This is a derogatory phrase used to describe someone deemed stupid or idiotic. It is safe to say there is a lack of respect and strong criticism of someone referred to as a ‘bleedin’ dope’ by a Dubliner.

17. Where’s your mot?

The Dublin slang word ‘mot’ (usually pronounced with a silent T) is used to describe a boy’s girlfriend. More often used among men rather than women, it can sometimes sound unpleasant. That said, it is believed to have derived from the Gaelic phrase ‘Cailín Maith,’ meaning good girl, perhaps making it slightly easier on the ear.

'C'mere 'till I tell ya' is one of the top Dublin slang phrases

16. C’mere ’til I tell ya

If a Dubliner addresses you with ‘C’mere ’til I tell ya,’ it is probably best you are in no rush. Chances are the conversation that follows will be lengthy with enough gossip to last you all week.

Either that or it will precede a sharp phrase that could include one of the two next common Dublin slang phrases.

15. Ask me arse/bollix/hole

To offer someone to ask another body part rather than your face is quite common in Dublin. It is especially effective if you want to make it clear you have no intention of responding to their request.

Dublin slang phrases always arise at the pub among locals

14. Get up the yard

Telling someone to ‘get up the yard’ or, directly translated, ‘walk away up the garden or yard’ simply means in Dublin slang to go away. It can be used in a jovial way or a more threatening manner, depending on the mood of the person.

13. Howanever and anyways

There is no direct translation for this Dublin slang as it is rather nonsensical and is simply used to direct the other person away from the conversation to either escape the situation or talk about something else.

Locals out in Dublin often use colloquialisms outsiders don't understand

12. Scarlet for ya

This is a superb way to describe feeling embarrassed for someone. It aptly gives the impression of said person sympathising with their pal so much they turn bright red themselves.

It is a true reflection of how Dubs can make great friends. Either that or highlight how we love to make fun of other people’s embarrassing moments!

11. Where’s the jacks?

The ‘jacks’ is Dublin slang for toilet and can often be heard when someone is telling their group ‘I’m off to the jacks!’ or another member of the group is ‘in the jacks.’ Enough said!

'Where's the jacks?' is one of the top Dublin slang phrases

10. He’s a right bowsie

A ‘bowsie’ is Dublin slang to describe an unsavoury character with little to offer. It usually refers to a man rather than a woman and is definitely not someone you would want to see your sister dating.

A ‘bowsie’ is not to be trusted, best avoided, and often a familiar face in the local pub.

9. She’s only an aul wagon

Used to describe a particularly unpleasant or nasty woman, ‘an aul wagon’ is intended as a derogatory phrase. For added effect, the target can be referred to as ‘only a wagon,’ suggesting she could be compared to nothing else but an old wooden cart.

Dublin slang phrases can be puzzling to outsiders

8. Me aul wan

If your ‘aul wan’ catches you up to no good in Dublin, there is trouble ahead. ‘Aul wan’ is slang for ‘mother’ in the capital and directly translated as ‘old one.’

A less endearing term to describe someone’s mum, it is often paired up with other slang in statements like ‘her aul wan’s only an aul wagon.’ Lovely!

7. Who’s yer man?

Directly translated as ‘Who is your man,’ this is not necessarily directed at a man accompanying you. Dubliners refer to any random person as ‘yer man,’ so they could be asking about a stranger who has just joined your company.

Dubliners use colloquialisms that may confuse outsiders

6. She’s a right dirtbird, that wan

A ‘dirtbird’ is on a par with ‘bowsie’ and used to describe a less desirable woman, although she may not believe so. It is a term you don’t want to hear describing your sister, friend, or mother.

It is often used to suggest the woman is of a promiscuous nature and not to be sought out as a suitable date for any respectable man.

5. Gerrup owa da

This is a classic Dublin term full of excitement and promise of a good bit of banter/craic. The person has received news they find positive or funny but want to respond in a jovial fashion.

It suggests they want to move on with the conversation but remain in good spirits. It directly translates as ‘get up out of that!’

Dublin slang phrases often only make sense to locals

4. State o da

If something or someone appears in a bit of a mess, the Dublin slang used would be simply ‘state o da!’ Anyone growing up in the capital will have been told at some stage, ‘Would you look at the state o da/o you.’

3. Giz a shot

To be asked for ‘a shot’ of something in Dublin is to be asked for a go of it. This could be anything from ‘a shot’ of a shared item to ‘a shot’ of your phone, wristwatch, or even bike.

Depending on where in Dublin you are at the time, it might be wise to decline and perhaps run in the opposite direction.

'Giz a shot of that' is one of the top Dublin slang phrases

2. I’ll dance all over your face

As pleasant as it might sound, this is one of those Dublin slang phrases that is not to be taken lightly. It means the person is angry enough to fight you until you are on the ground, after which they will use their feet to damage your face even more.

1. Wreck the gaf!

The term ‘free gaf’ is music to any teenage ears in Dublin, while the term ‘wreak the gaf’ should fill any parent with dread. The term ‘gaf’ means ‘house,’ so when parents are away, their offspring often announce a ‘free gaf’ to their pals, opening up the family home to all and sundry.

As the evening progresses, usually with the help of copious amounts of alcohol, the slang phrase ‘wreck the gaf!’ is usually shouted by a party-goer with absolutely no responsibility to keeping the house intact.