Need to brush up on your Irish slang? Here are the top 80 most-used Irish slang phrases.
When you arrive in Ireland, you may be forgiven for thinking the English spoken here is a completely different language!
While the English language prevailed across Ireland throughout the 19th century, the Irish developed plenty of slang phrases to make the language their own.
Indeed, since the dawn of time, the Irish have managed to invent our very own slang words and phrases to unleash on all unfamiliar with the lingo!
In this article, we highlight the most commonly heard Irish idioms and words, their meanings, and examples of how they are used in everyday speech.
You will be talking like a seasoned pro in no time!
Ireland Before You Die’s fun facts about Irish slang:
- Lots of Irish slang words have been borrowed from the Irish language – for example, craic.
- Slang in Ireland differs throughout the country. For example, Dublin slang is completely different to Cork slang.
- Thanks to iconic Irish TV shows like Father Ted and Derry Girls, hilarious Irish slang continues to spread around the world.
- Irish slang massively reflects the humour of Irish people – fun, witty, and very sarcastic!
Acting the maggot
Meaning: An Irish term for fooling and messing around
Example: Stop acting the maggot
Meaning: Severe illness
Example: You got a bad dose of it, didn’t you?
Bags (to make a bags of something)
Meaning: One of the common Irish phrases meaning to make a mess of doing something.
Example: He made a right bags of that
Meaning: Right, accurate, correct
Example: You are bang on
Example: The chair is banjaxed
Example: A pint of the black stuff, please
Meaning: Male, juvenile
Example: Come on, you boyo!
Meaning: Awful, dreadful
Example: It was a brutal tackle
Meaning: Raining hard
Example: It is bucketing down
Meaning: Skip (school, work)
Example: Do you want to bunk off tomorrow?
Meaning: a lighthearted Irish insult for someone who takes a risk
Example: He is a real chancer
Meaning: Young child (Dublin slang)
Example: He was a chiseler at the time
Example: I am a Ciotóg and proud
Meaning: To pull someone’s leg
Example: I am only codding ya!
Craic – probably the most famous Irish slang word!
Meaning: Fun, gossip, goings-on. One of the most well-known Irish phrases.
Example: What’s/where’s the craic?
Read more: our guide to the history and meaning of craic
Meaning: Continue on, get going
Example: I must crack on, lots to do
Meaning: Irish person from rural / agricultural area. Country folk.
Example: She is a culchie originally.
Meaning: Person who quietly engineers things to their own advantage
Example: He is a real cute hoor
Delira and excira
Meaning: Delighted and excited (Dublin slang)
Example: Are you delira and excira about it?
Meaning: Brilliant, fantastic, great
Example: That was a deadly film
Meaning: For a very, very long time
Example: They have lived there donkey’s years
Meaning: Someone not working or is messing about, up to no good
Example: They are a couple of dossers
Eat the head off
Meaning: To give out to someone
Example: Don’t eat the head off me
Meaning: Complete fool, doing something silly
Example: You are such an eejit
Meaning: Listening in on a private conversation
Example: You were earwigging again, yes?
Effin’ and blindin’
Meaning: Swearing and cursing
Example: He was effin’ and blindin’ nonstop
Meaning: Polite swear word (for the F word). Also used as an exclamation of disbelief.
Example: Ah, just eff off, will ya
Meaning: An acceptable response for many things. Eg well done!
Example: Fair play, mate!
Meaning: Go away (polite version), used to show surprise or shock
Example: Feck off . . . . don’t be bothering me
READ MORE: IB4UD’s guide to the history and origin of the word ‘feck’
Meaning: Used for your guy, as in ‘me fella’; partner/husband/boyfriend
Example: Is your fella going to be there?
Meaning: Very good, great, excellent
Example: It was a fierce performance
Meaning: Good-looking man or woman. Used to refer to an attractive person.
Example: That guy is a fine thing
Meaning: Woman of dubious moral attributes. A common term used by many an Irish mammy.
Example: The place is full of floozies
Meaning: Very drunk; too many alcoholic drinks.
Example: I was absolutely fluthered last night
MORE: 20 Irish slang words that mean drunk
Meaning: Home; to have a ‘free gaff’ means you are home alone
Example: I will pop over to your gaff later
Meaning: Crooked, or odd-looking
Example: He had a gammy leg
Meaning: Quick glance
Example: Take a quick gander in here first
Meaning: Funny or amusing. One of the most common phrases in the Irish language.
Example: He is a gas man
Meaning: To stare rudely
Example: Stop gawking
Get outta that garden!
Meaning: Fun phrase used in a conversation to get a laugh, reaction
Example: Wud ya get outta that garden!!!
Meaning: Many uses; most often used as a reply to ‘How are you?’, ‘How are you feeling?’, or being told of a decision. One of the most commons Irish expressions.
Example: We will meet you there – “Grand”; Dinner will be in 10 minutes – “Grand”
Meaning: Complete mess
Example: I made a complete haymes of that work
Meaning: Self-righteous or religious person. As Ireland is quite a religious country, this is one you may hear quite often.
Example: She is a bit of a holy joe actually
Meaning: Disgraceful scene
Example: She made a holy show of herself
How’s she cuttin’?
Meaning: Hi; How are you?; What’s news?
Example: How’s she cuttin’?
Meaning: Hi, hello
Example: Howya doin’?
Meaning: A rural person’s name for a Dubliner
Example: You are a jackeen…my sympathies!
Example: I’m off to the jacks
Meaning: Taxi, cab
Example: We can get a jo maxi in later
Meaning: A dump of a place and also a sleep
Example: I had a quick kip before dinner; it was a real kip of a hotel
Meaning: Exhausted, tired
Example: I was completely knackered
Example: She was totaly langers last Friday
Meaning: 3 meanings: referring to bad weather, specifically to rain hard; to make an attempt at something; or to go out drinking
Example: It was lashing out of the heavens. Give it a lash. Let’s go on the lash Saturday.
Meaning: Run away quickly
Example: Come on, we need to leg it now!
Meaning: Very drunk
Example: He was totally locked at closing time
Meaning: Dirty, filthy, Disgusting
Example: My hair feels manky, it needs a wash
Meaning: Soft drinks
Example: Pick up some minerals at the shop.
Meaning: A derogatory term meaning fool
Example: He looks a right moran
Meaning: Highly embarrassed. Commonly used in Northern Ireland.
Example: I was mortified when I realised my mistake
Meaning: Common Irish term for girlfriend (Dublin slang)
Example: Where’s your mot tonight?
RELATED: IB4UD’s guide to Dublin Slang phrases only locals understand
Meaning: Very difficult or to really want to do something
Example: Finding a taxi was murder. I could murder a Guinness.
Meaning: Job done for cash to avoid tax
Example: He can do it as a nixer for you
Not the full shilling
Meaning: Not fully sane.
Example: I don’t think he is the full shilling
On the tear
Meaning: Going drinking
Example: We were on the tear last night
Meaning: Drunk. One of the most hilarious Irish phrases.
Example: We got ossified
Meaning: An affectionate term for your father, dad (Dublin slang)
Example: My oul fella is out at the moment
Oul Dear / Oul Wan
Meaning: Your mother, mom
Example: My oul dear is out shopping
Meaning: Movies, film
Example: We went to the pictures a week ago
Puss (To have a puss on you)
Meaning: Sulky face
Example: Take that puss off your face
Meaning: Someone posh, loud and loves rugby
Example: He is a rugger bugger for sure
Meaning: A common term for great, brilliant
Example: It was a savage contest till the end
Meaning: Very embarrassed
Example: I was scarlet
Example: After driving, I was shattered
Meaning: A verb used to make fun of someone in a nice way or else it has the same meaning as elsewhere, i.e., common prostitute
Example: He was only slagging you, don’t worry
Meaning: Means sorry and also ‘excuse me’, ‘pardon me’
Example: Sorry, can I get in there please
Story? (What’s the)
Meaning: Hi, what’s happening?
Example: What’s the story, Rory?
Suckin’ diesel (Now you’re)
Meaning: Now you’re talking, now you’re doing well. A more well-known Irish slang phrase.
Example: Now you are suckin’ diesel, my friend!
Meaning: Anywhere in the region of Dublin
Example: I am living just outside The Pale
Meaning: Extremely stupid
Example: He is as thick as a plank
Meaning: Show off, sometimes aggressively
Example: They were all throwing shapes in the pub
Meaning: Trinity College Dublin
Example: Did you go to Trinners to do your degree?
There you have them: the top 80 Irish slang words you’ll probably hear when visiting Ireland!
Your questions answered about Irish slang
If you still have questions, we have you covered! In this section, we’ve compiled some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions and popular questions that have been asked online about this topic.
Why do the Irish say Feck?
Feck is a less offensive alternative to a well-known expletive.
What do the Irish call a girl?
There are various Irish slang phrases for girl, including lass, bure, or colleen.
How do you insult in Irish?
Some insults from Irish slang are fecker, eejit, gowl, tool, gobshite, among many others. Check out our top Irish insults here.