Ever been to Cork but didn’t understand half the things the locals were saying? Look no further; now you can go there with confidence!
Below is a table that gives some examples of Cork slang, their meanings, and, where possible, the source/derivation of the slang word or phrase.
So, if you find yourself in the Rebel County wanting to fit in with the locals, we’ve got you covered.
Here is the ultimate guide to Cork slang and thanks to our friends at corkpastandpresent.ie for this piece.
Allergic – a strong expression of dislike
For example, “I’m allergic to dat fella. I don’t like him.”
All gillete – dressed-up
Common Cork slang.
All-a-baa – up-for-grabs
Usually said by children playing when objects were flung up in the air.
(The) Ark – the Arcadia
The Arcadia ballroom that stood on the Lower Glanmire Road.
As old as Atty Hayes’s goat – very old
Attiwell Hayes, a Cork brewer of the late 18th-and early 19th-century, kept a pet goat that lived to a great age.
Away for slates – to do well or be successful
For example, “After the goal, Cork were away for slates.”
Ballahs – a great game in the northside
Ballahs is a game involving small steel balls played in association with the game of ‘glassey alleys’.
Ball hopper – joker or mischievously humorous person
A joker may be called a “ball hopper”.
Balm out – lie down (especially for sunbathing)
For example, “We were all balmed out on the beach.”
Banish (a ball) – from the game of handball
To put a ball out of bounds, especially over a wall where it cannot be retrieved. “We had to stop playing ‘cos Tom banished the ball.”
Banker – a feral pigeon
Young pigeon enthusiasts would trap bankers and bring them home to their pigeon lofts to breed racing pigeons.
Bar-of-gold – favourite child
The most favoured child in a family, usually the youngest. “Young Danny is Mary’s bar-of-gold.”
Bareas – bare feet
Common Cork slang.
Barracka – Barrack Street
As well as meaning Barrack Street, when preceded by ‘the’, it also is used as an abbreviation for The Barrack Street Brass Band.
The Barracka’s rival was The Butter Exchange Brass Band (abbreviated to ‘The Buttera’).
Bathinas – bathing togs/suits
‘Bathinas’ are bathing suits.
Bate (pronounced like ‘baat’) – a piece (of bread/meat)
For example, “There’s a bate of bread for ye.”
Bawlk the robber – scruffily dressed
For example, “Look at the cut of yer man; he looks like bawlk the robber.”
Baytur – idiot
An idiot may be called a ‘baytur’.
Bazzer – haircut
A ‘bazzer’ is a haircut.
Beat that in two throws – something great
A term of approval used when something remarkable has been said or done. From the popular sport of road bowling.
Be doggy wide – keep alert/be careful
For example, “Be doggy wide with him; he’s tricky.”
Berries/The berries – very good/the best
For example, “That apple tart was the berries.”
Binoo/Give someone the binoo – signal/sign/give someone a signal
For example, “Give Willie the binoo, and we’ll go home.”
Probably from the Irish word ‘beannú’ in the sense of greeting.
Blackas – blackberries
Common Cork slang for blackberries.
Blood-and-bandages – football kits
The red jerseys and white shorts of the Cork hurling and football teams. The words are often used affectionately to refer to the teams themselves.
“Come on, the blood-and-bandages.”
Bodice – pigs ribs/spare ribs
This is a popular Cork dish.
Bon Secours girl – unfashionable
An unfashionably dressed young woman.
(The) Boy – hero
The hero in a film. For example, “John Wayne was the boy.”
Break your melt – test your patience
Test your patience to the breaking point. For example, “That fella would break your melt.”
Breezer – a fart
As children in Cork, we had a naughty rhyme that went:
“Julius Caesar left a breezer on the coast of France. The King of Spain tried the same, but he left it in his pants.”
Bronson – an eccentric person
A ‘bronson’ is an eccentric person.
Bruss – crumbs
Crumbled remains of anything but especially food (although ‘turf bruss’ is a common expression).
There was a character known to children as Paddy the Bruss Man. He was the watchman in the Shandon sweet factory after hours.
We would go to the factory’s gate and knock and ask Paddy for a penn’orth of bruss, and he would hand us out what crumbled bits he had gathered from the machines in a “poke” and take the penny.
Possibly from the Irish brúscar.
Buckshee – something for nothing, a gift, a freebie
Possibly derived from Baksheesh. Baksheesh is a Persian phrase for charity or alms or a gift of some kind.
A gratuity, tip, or bribe paid to expedite service, especially in some Near Eastern countries.
Buffer – a person from a rural area
Often used in a mildly derogatory sense.
Bulb (off) – two people that look alike.
“John is the bulb of his father.”
Cawhake – to stop someone from doing something
To prevent something from taking place or to cause something to be abandoned or discarded.
For example, “They withdrew funding from the scheme, and that put the cawhake on it.”
Most likely from Irish ‘cá théadh’ where would (something) be going?
Chainies – broken tableware
Bits of broken tableware with which girls played. ‘Playing chanies’ is common.
Most likely an older pronunciation of china (cups and saucers) in the plural.
Chalk it down – absolutely right
Common Cork slang.
Cheeser – don’t remind us
To get a cheeser was to be painfully struck with the edge of a school ruler on the backside when you were not expecting it.
Usually given by one schoolboy to another. The practice was often explicitly forbidden by headmasters.
Reminiscent of a knife cutting cheese, perhaps.
Chessie – a chestnut
A chestnut is especially one used in the children’s game ‘conkers’.
Choicer – nothing
“He hardly did it for choicer.”
Clobber – clothes
Particularly a man’s suit. “Johnny got a lovely clobber in Cronin’s.”
Collie – park warden
A uniformed warden of public parks.
Conjun box – money box
A savings box, typically for children.
Conkers – our favourite autumn game
A children’s game played with chestnuts that had string put through holes bored through their centres.
Connie dodger – biscuits
Formerly a very strict Lenten diet was enjoined on Catholics; only one full meal and two small meals(collations) were allowed on fast days.
A biscuit or two was also allowed with morning tea to prevent heartburn. Enterprising Cork bakers produced very large biscuits so that those on the Lenten fast could stave off the pangs of hunger while staying within the letter of the law.
The biscuits were called ‘Connie dodgers’ after the Catholic bishop of Cork Cornelius Lucey.
Connishurer – a gossip
Common Cork slang.
Dagenham Yank – a Corkman working in Dagenham
A Corkman working in Fords in Dagenham back home on vacation.
Many Corkmen got employment in the Ford plant in Dagenham.
Dawfake – a badly made object
For example, “That’s an awful dawfake of a chair.”
Dawk – a dig
For example, “Give him a dawk to shut him up.”
Diddle-um – savings
A savings scheme operated by a few people, usually women. Compare with ‘manage’.
Doing a line – in a relationship
Being in a relationship with somebody. For example, “Joe and Angela are doing a line for years.”
Dolled-up – dressed-up
‘Dolled-up’ means ‘getting dressed up’.
Donkey’s gudge – a Cork cake
A cake whose ingredients include stale bread/stale cake and raisins.
Dooshie/doonshie – very small
For example, “Can I have a dooshie piece of chocolate?”
Down the banks – a reprimand
For example, “I gave him down the banks” means “I reprimanded him”.
Dowtcha boy – term of approval
Presumably, a shortened version of “I wouldn’t doubt you, boy!”
Drink the cape off Saint Paul – drinking capacity
Capacity for holding strong drink. For example, “Paddy had ten pints, but that fella could drink the cape off Saint Paul.”
Drisheen – Cork delicacy
A blood pudding made with sheep’s blood or cow’s blood or a mixture of both. It’s traditionally eaten with tripe.
Echo boys – men selling the paper
Men and boys who sell the Evening Echo on the streets of Cork.
Fagaas – children’s currency
The outside section of cigarette packets collected by youngsters, flattened and tied into bundles, and used as currency.
An item such as a ball might cost you several hundred fagaas.
Farting jacket – tight-fitting coat
Common Cork slang.
Feck – a game
The game of pitch-and-toss.
Feek – to have sex with
Deriving from the Northside.
Fifty – stood up
Failure to turn up for an arranged meeting, especially a date. For example, “Tom is raging; he got a fifty last night.”
Possibly from fifty percent.
Flah – have sexual intercourse
Also used as a noun meaning a promiscuous woman.
Possibly from the Irish ‘fleadh’, which means ‘festival’.
Fudgies – kids’ currency
Odds and ends carried by little boys in their pockets, which they swapped.
Funt – a kick
A ‘funt’ is a kick.
Gadget – melodeon
A ‘gadget’ refers to a melodeon or accordion.
Gatch – gait, carriage, personal deportment
Pronounced ‘gaatch’, this is usually used disparagingly. For example, “Look at the gatch of him.”
Gatting – drinking
Gatting is like, “Are you going drinking?”
Gawks – ill
Feeling ill/like you’re going to be sick. For example, “That breast in a bun gave me the gawks.”
Gildy – looking after ones appearance
Derived from Munster fusileers.
Give (someone) a berril – call on (someone)
Potentially derived from the bell of the phone ringing.
Glassy alleys – marbles
A small glass sphere used in the children’s game marbles.
Gobs – a game played with pebbles
White smooth marble pebbles were highly prized for this game, also known as ‘gobs’.
Gom – idiot/foolish person
Common Cork slang.
Going-on-scrips/scripts – instructions/rules
For example, “Ask Dan; he has all the goin’-on-scrips.”
Gollun! – expression of astonishment
For example, “Gollun, look at the state of yer man dere, like”.
Goosa – third wheel
A third person (out) with a couple.
For example, “I’ve no one to go for a drink with tonight, girl.”
“Sure, go out with Jason and Shakira.”
“Go way ourra dat; I’d be like a goosa.”
Goose-as – gooseberries
‘Goose-as’ are gooseberries.
Gowl – silly, unpleasant person
For example, “Don’t mind him; he’s only a gowl.”
Guzz-eyed – cross-eyed
‘Guzz-eyed’ means cross-eyed.
Hand me down the moon – extremely tall person
Common Cork slang.
Haunted – very lucky
For example, “The Glen were haunted to win that match.”
Have a deko – take a look at
‘Have a deko’ means to take a look at.
Head-the-ball – foolish/silly person
Someone who’s headed a football so often that it’s affected his brain.
Hobble – to steal
For example, “Joe hobbled the apple in the shop.”
Hoggy Ba’s – Horgan’s Buildings, off Magazine Road
‘Hoggy’ is often used in Cork as a nickname for anyone named Horgan.
Hook-and-eye – old Cork railway
Nickname for the former Cork & Muskerry Light Railway.
From coupling device used on the trains.
I will in my gonkapouch – I most certainly will not
If you were sad, she’d make you lonesome – a gloomy and boring person
A phrase used to describe someone whose conversation is both gloomy and boring.
Jag – a date
For example, “I’ve a jag with the oul’ doll tonight.”
Johnny Raw-Jaws – cranky
A cranky person, especially a cranky man.
Joulter – common Cork slang
A man’s nickname.
Lamp – to look at something/someone
For example, “Bill was lampin’ the lasher.”
Langer – agitated, irritating, and obnoxious person
Term reputedly brought back from India to Cork by the Munster Fusileers who, while based in India, viewed the langur monkey as an irritating creature.
Sample phrase: “Go way ya langer.”
Lapsy pa – an indeterminate infection
Common Cork slang.
Lasher – a good-looking young woman
‘Lasher’ refers to a good-looking young woman.
Leadránach – tedious, boring
For example, “The film was very leadránach.”
From the Irish ‘leadránach’, meaning ‘slow, tedious’.
Like – peppering the speech of Corkonians
It’s used as an interjection and has nothing at all to do with the usual meaning of the word. For example, “D’ye know what I mean, like?”
Loberty – trouble, especially financial
For example, “That man is in the height of loberty.”
From Coal Quay dealers in the 1960s.
Logie – sluggish, slow, lazy
For example, “I’ve no energy; I’m logie from the heat.”
Lop – a penny
For example, “Give the child a few lops.”
Lowry – a dig/punch
For example, “Give someone a lowry.”
Derived from the Bandon Road area circa 2000.
Ma’s Mope – a foolish person
Cork slang used by the older generation.
Manage – a savings scheme operated by a few people, usually women
For example, “Don’t forget to give Mary the money for the manage.”
Mass/meas – worth/value
For example, “I’ve mass on that.”
From the Irish ‘meas’ meaning ‘judgement/regard’.
Massive – very good/beautiful
For example, “The Christmas dinner was only massive.”
Mawser – old cat/old woman
Common Cork slang.
Me daza – term of approval
For example, “That lemonade is me daza.”
Meb – idiot
For example, “That fella is a right meb.”
Mebs – mess
For example, “He made a pure mebs of the job.”
Mockeeah – pretend, fictional
Moylo – drunk
‘Moylo’ means drunk.
Niner – card game
The card game nine-card brag.
Nobber – promiscuous man
A ‘nobber’ is a promiscuous man.
Noo-de-naw – an indecisive person
A ‘noo-de-naw’ is an indecisive person.
On the lang – being absent from school without permission
Also known as getting a ‘langie’. A common dangerous practice by youngsters, especially boys, in former times, of hanging on to the back of a moving lorry, bus or horse and cart to get a free ride.
For example, “I got a langie up Grawn”
“I’ll tell your Mam you were langing on to the bus.”
Oul’ doll – girlfriend/wife
‘Oul’ doll’ is an affectionate term for a wife or girlfriend.
Oul’ man’s arse – someone grown old whilst young
For example, “Yer man dere is a right oul man’s arse… he never goes out playing or anything.”
Oul’ Rowdlum –husband
A humorous, affectionate name for a husband. For example, “I better go home to get Oul’ Rowdlum’s tea.”
Derived from street traders on Cornmarket Street in the 1950s and 1960s.
Out with (someone) – be offended with/refuse to speak to (someone)
For example, “Barney is out with Mick.”
Pana/Doin’ Pana – (St) Patrick’s Street/strolling down (St) Patrick’s Street
Corkonians usually leave out the ‘St’ part of the street name.
Paper/De paper – newspaper
Normally the Cork Examiner/Irish Examiner.
(The) Passover – Trinity Bridge over the south channel of the Lee
The bridge was formally opened by Gerald Goldberg, the Lord Mayor of Cork, in 1977.
Mr Goldberg was a leading member of the Jewish community in Cork.
Pisawn – small delicate individual
From the Irish ‘padhsán’, meaning a delicate, complaining person.
Pooley – a child’s word for urine
Pranna Gardens – from a mispronunciation
A mispronunciation of the former Botanic Gardens, which later became St Joseph’s Cemetery.
Pure daycent – excellent or brilliant
For example, “Dat feen’s a pure daycent player.”
Rake – a lot
A large quantity, usually of alcoholic drink. For example, “Mick is dyin’; he had a rake of pints last night.”
Rasa – raspberry cordial
‘Rasa’ is common Cork slang.
Rocker – large stone
A large stone but of manually movable size (not a boulder or fixed position rock).
“It wasn’t just a stone he threw. It was a rocker!”
Rubber dollies – runners/trainers/running shoes
Rarely used, old Cork slang.
Sconce/Have a sconce at – look/take a look at
Score – a road bowling match
For example, “Are ye goin’ to the score out Dublin Hill?”
Scove – walk/stroll
For example, “Do you fancy going for a scove?”
Scrip – subscription
For example, “My father always paid his scrip to the trade union.”
Probably an abbreviation of ‘subscription’.
Scuttering gun – water pistol
A ‘scuttering gun’ is Cork slang for a water pistol.
Septic – very vain
For example, “Look at your man, he thinks he’s it, he’s septic.”
Seven shows of Cork – verbal abuse
For example, “Mary was so annoyed, she gave Danny the seven shows of Cork.”
Shaping – showing off
For example, “Look at that one an’ she shapin.”
Shore – a drain or any trap to take water from roads
Example of use, “Me mam poured the tea down the shore.”
Skeeories – fruit of the hawthorn tree
Haws, the fruit of the hawthorn tree, the kernel of which was used as ammunition for pea-shooters.
Most likely from ‘sceachóirí’, the Irish name for the fruit.
Skite/On the skite – heavy drinking
For example, “Paddy’s wife is away an’ he’s on the skite.”
Skull – bread
Loaf of bread with a round, skull-like shape.
Slock (apples) – steal apples from an orchard
For example, “We slocked apples in Murphy’s garden yesterday.”
Spogger – peak cap
Common Cork slang.
Spur/spurblind – visually impaired/blind
Probably from ‘purblind’.
Square pushing – courting/kissing and cuddling
The phrase is also used in Dorset in England.
Stailc – tantrum
For example, “That child is in a stailc.”
From the Irish ‘stailc’ meaning ‘sulkiness’.
Steerinah – a steering cart
A homemade cart for children, usually with ball bearings for wheels.
Strawkalling – just passing the time/doing nothing much
A mispronunciation of ‘stroke hauling’, an illegal method of catching fish by impaling them on a sharp hook attached to a rod or pole.
Note also the Irish word ‘stracáil’ meaning ‘struggling’ or ‘striving’.
Take a rabie/Throw a rabie – get very angry or worked up
Possibly from rabid in the sense of ‘raging’.
Televated – dressed-up
‘Televated’ means dressed-up.
Tom Shehawdy – an unkempt, dishevelled person
For example, “Look at the state of him, he’s like Tom Shehawdy.”
Used by Coal Quay traders circa 1950.
Tocht – catch/lump in the throat due to emotion
For example, “The poor child is crying so much he has a tocht.”
From the Irish word ‘Tocht’ in the sense of deep emotion. “Ó Dónaill’s Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla has ‘Bhí tocht orm” meaning “I couldn’t speak with emotion.”
Tory top – pine cone
Probably from the resemblance of a pine cone to a spinning top toy for children.
Two-bulb – police van
Referring to the police lights.
Ucks/Ux – the core of an apple.
“When you’re finished, will ye give us the ucks.”
(The) Union – St Finbarr’s hospital
An old name for St Finbarr’s hospital, which was formerly the Cork Union workhouse.
An older generation of Cork people had a great fear of ending up in the ‘Union’.
Wax a gaza – climb up a gas lamp
Often used as a way of telling someone to go away. “Go wax a gaza for yourself.”
‘Gaza’ is slang for gas lamp.
Wazzie – wasp
For example, “I got stung by a wazzie.”