Cork slang: How to speak like you’re from Cork

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

Allergic is a strong expression of dislike.
Credit: Pixabay / Alexandra_Koch

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

Away for slates is common Cork slang meaning to be successful.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

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

Banish is common Cork slang.
Credit: Pixabay / BorgMattisson

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

Barracka is Barrack Street.
Credit: Flickr / Keith Ewing

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

Bawlk the robber is common Cork slang.
Credit: Pixabay / shauking

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

A binoo is like a wave.
Credit: pxfuel.com

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

Break your melt is common Cork slang.
Credit: pxfuel.com

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

A buffer is a person from a rural area.
Credit: publicdomainpictures.net

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

Chainies is common Cork slang.
Credit: pxhere.com

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 chessie is a chestnut.
Credit: Flickr / Farrukh

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 conjun box is Cork slang for a money box.
Credit: pxfuel.com

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

A dawfake is a badly made object.
Credit: Flickr / Lee Haywood

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

Donkey's gudge is Cork slang for a local cake.
Credit: Twitter / @tonymtobin1

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

You'll hear people from Cork say, 'Drink the cape off Saint Paul.
Credit: pxfuel.com

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

Fifty means stood up in Cork slang.
Credit: Flickr / Erin Nekervis

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 is a melodeon.
Credit: Flickr / [puamelia]

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

Glass alleys are marbles in Cork slang.
Credit: Pixabay / coastventures

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.
Credit: Pixabay / Bru-nO

‘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

Haunted means very lucky in Cork slang.
Credit: pxhere.com

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

The hook-and-eye is the old Cork railway.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

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

Johnny Raw-Jaws is a cranky man.
Credit: Unsplash / engin akyurt

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 is Cork slang for a good looking woman.
Credit: maxpixel.net

‘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

A lop is a penny.
Credit: Pixabay / Olichel

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

Mawser is Cork slang for an old cat or an old woman.
Credit: publicdomainpictures.net

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

Pronounced ‘Mock-ee-ah’.

Moylo – drunk

Moylo means drunk.
Credit: Pixabay.com

‘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 Cork slang for girlfriend or wife.
Credit: Pixahive.com

‘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

The paper is simply the newspaper.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

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

Probably descriptive.

Pranna Gardens – from a mispronunciation

Cork slang has a long history.
Credit: Flickr / IrishFireside

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

Trainers are known as rubber dollies.
Credit: pxfuel.com

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

Cork slang is used by people of all ages.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

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

Skeeories are the fruits of the hawthorn tree.
Credit: Pixabay / GoranH

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

A spogger is a peak cap in Cork slang.
Credit: Pixabay / Hans

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

Stailc means tantrum.
Credit: Pxfuel.com

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

Cork slang can be confusing.
Credit: Flickr / Jeremy Keith

‘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  

Pronounced ‘tuct’.

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

A tory top is a pine cone.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

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

Wazzie means wasp in Cork slang.
Credit: geograph.org.uk / Mike Pennington

For example, “I got stung by a wazzie.”

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