IRISH SLANG: Top 80 words & phrases used in daily life

Need to brush up on your Irish slang? Here are the top 80 most-used Irish slang phrases.

Top 80 Irish phrases & slang words used in daily life

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

Bad dose           

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

Bang on             

Meaning: Right, accurate, correct           

Example: You are bang on


Meaning: Broken           

Example: The chair is banjaxed

Black stuff

Meaning: Guinness

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

Bucketing down

Meaning: Raining hard 

Example: It is bucketing down

Bunk off             

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


Meaning: Left-handed  

Example: I am a Ciotóg and proud

Cod/codding ya

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

Crack on            

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.

Cute hoor          

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

Donkey’s years 

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

Eff off  

Meaning: Polite swear word (for the F word). Also used as an exclamation of disbelief.    

Example: Ah, just eff off, will ya

Fair play!           

Meaning: An acceptable response for many things. Eg well done!    

Example: Fair play, mate!

Feck Off             

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

Fine thing          

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

Holy Joe             

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

Holy show         

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!


Meaning: Toilet

Example: I’m off to the jacks

Jo maxi

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


Meaning: Drunk

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.

Leg it    

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

Oul fella             

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

Rugger Bugger

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


Meaning: Exhausted     

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)       

Credit: Tourism NI

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!

The Pale             

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

Throw shapes   

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.

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