Top 80 Irish phrases & slang words used in daily life

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

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Arriving in Ireland, you may be forgiven for thinking you have been hoodwinked, cajoled, led up the garden path or just plain misinformed as to the language widely spoken here. Indeed, since the dawn of time, us Irish have managed to invent our very own slang words and phrases to unleash on all unfamiliar with the lingo!

Here, we highlight the most commonly heard Irish idioms and words, their meanings, and examples of how they are used in everyday speech.

Enjoy! You will be talking like a seasoned pro in no time.

Credit to suziehq for the list

‘Acting the maggot’ to ‘boyo’

Slang word(s)MeaningExample
Acting the maggotFooling and messing aroundStop acting the maggot
Bad doseSevere illnessYou got a bad dose of it, didn’t you?
Bags (to make a bags of something)Make a mess of doing somethingHe made a right bags of that
Bang onRight, accurate, correctYou are bang on
BanjaxedBrokenThe chair is banjaxed
Black stuffGuinnessA pint of the black stuff, please
BoyoMale, juvenileCome on, you boyo!

‘Brutal’ to ‘Culchie’

Slang word(s)MeaningExample
BrutalAwful, dreadfulIt was a brutal tackle
Bucketing downRaining hardIt is bucketing down
Bunk offSkip (school, work)I know you bunked off today
ChancerSomeone who takes a riskHe is a real chancer
ChiselerYoung child (Dublin slang)He was a chiseler at the time
CiotógLeft-handedI am a Ciotóg and proud
Cod/codding yaTo pull someone’s legI am only codding ya!
CraicFun, gossip, goings-onWhat’s/where’s the craic?
Crack onContinue on, get goingI must crack on, lots to do
CulchiePerson from rural / agricultural areaShe is a culchie originally

‘Cute hoor’ to ‘Fair play!’

Slang word(s)MeaningExample
Cute hoorPerson who quietly engineers things to their own advantageHe is a real cute hoor
Delira and exciraDelighted and excited (Dublin slang)Are you delira and excira about it?
DeadlyBrilliant, fantastic, greatThat was a deadly film
Donkey’s yearsFor a very, very long timeThey have lived there donkey’s years
DosserSomeone not working or is messing about, up to no goodThey are a couple of dossers
Eat the head offTo give out to someoneDon’t eat the head off me
EejitComplete fool, doing something sillyYou are such an eejit
EarwiggingListening in on a private conversationYou were earwigging again, yes?
Effin’ and blindin’Swearing and cursingHe was effin’ and blindin’ nonstop
Eff offPolite swear word (for the F word)Ah, just eff off, will ya
Fair play!Well done!Fair play, mate!

‘Feck off’ to ‘Get outta that garden!’

Slang word(s)MeaningExample
Feck OffGo away (polite version), used to show surprise or shockFeck off . . . . don’t be bothering me
FellaUsed for your guy, as in ‘me fella’; partner/husband/boyfriendIs your fella going to be there?
FierceVery good, great, excellentIt was a fierce performance
Fine thingGood-looking man or womanThat guy is a fine thing
FloozieWoman of dubious moral attributesThe place is full of floozies
FlutheredVery drunkI was absolutely fluthered last night
GaffHome; to have a ‘free gaff’ means you are home aloneI will pop over to your gaff later
GammyCrooked, or odd-lookingHe had a gammy leg
GanderQuick glanceTake a quick gander in here first
GasFunny or amusingHe is a gas man
GawkTo stare rudelyStop gawking
Get outta that garden!Fun phrase used in a conversation to get a laugh, reactionWud ya get outta that garden!!!

 

‘Grand’ to ‘kip’

Slang word(s)MeaningExample
GrandMany uses; most often used as a reply to ‘How are you?’,  ‘How are you feeling?’, or being told of a decisionWe will meet you there – “Grand”; Dinner will be in 10 minutes – “Grand”
Hames/haymesComplete messI made a complete haymes of that work
Holy JoeSelf-righteous personShe is a bit of a holy joe actually
Holy showdisgraceful sceneShe made a holy show of herself
How’s she cuttin’?Hi; How are you?; What’s news?How’s she cuttin’?
HowyaHi, helloHowya doin’?
JackeenA rural person’s name for a DublinerYou are a jackeen…my sympathies!
JacksToiletI’m off to the jacks
Jo maxiTaxi, cabWe can get a jo maxi in later
KipA dump of a place and also a sleepI had a quick kip before dinner; it was a real kip of a hotel

 

‘Knackered’ to ‘mortified’

Slang word(s)MeaningExample
KnackeredExhausted, tiredI was completely knackered
LangersDrunkShe was totaly langers last Friday
Lash3 meanings: to rain hard; to make an attempt at something; or to go out drinkingIt was lashing out of the heavens. Give it a lash. Let’s go on the lash Saturday.
Leg itRun away quicklyCome on, we need to leg it now!
LockedVery drunkHe was totally locked at closing time
MankyDirty, filthy, DisgustingMy hair feels manky, it needs a wash
MoranFoolHe looks a right moran
MortifiedHighly embarrassedI was mortified when I realised my mistake

 

‘Mot’ to ‘rugger bugger’

Slang word(s)MeaningExample
MotGirlfriend (Dublin slang)Where’s your mot tonight?
MurderVery difficult or to really want to do somethingFinding a taxi was murder. I could murder a Guinness.
NixerJob done for cash to avoid taxHe can do it as a nixer for you
Not the full shillingNot fully saneI don’t think he is the full shilling
On the tearGoing drinkingWe were on the tear last night
OssifiedDrunkWe got ossified
Oul fellaYour father, dad (Dublin slang)My oul fella is out at the moment
Oul Dear / Oul WanYour mother, momMy oul dear is out shopping
PicturesMovies, filmWe went to the pictures a week ago
Puss (To have a puss on you)Sulky faceTake that puss off your face
Rugger BuggerSomeone posh, loud and loves rugbyHe is a rugger bugger for sure

 

‘Savage’ to ‘Trinners’:

Slang word(s)MeaningExample
SavageGreat, brilliantIt was a savage contest till the end
ScarletVery embarrassedI was scarlet
ShatteredExhaustedAfter driving, I was shattered
Slagnb: Use a verb to mean make fun of someone in a nice way or else it has the same meaning as elsewhere, i.e., common prostituteHe was only slagging you, don’t worry
SorryMeans sorry and also ‘excuse me’, ‘pardon me’Sorry, can I get in there please
Story? (What’s the)Hi, what’s happening?What’s the story, Rory?
Suckin’ diesel (Now you’re)Now you’re talking, now you’re doing wellNow you are suckin’ diesel, my friend!
The PaleAnywhere in the region of DublinI am living just outside The Pale
ThickExtremely stupidHe is as thick as a plank
Throw shapesShow off, sometimes agressivelyThey were all throwing shapes in the pub
TrinnersTrinity College DublinDid 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.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. This is a great list. There’s one missing though, “to shift” “So did you shift anyone last night?”
    Also, about “to eat the head off”, I think the translation “to give out” is already Irish, some British people don’t understand that, they say “to tell off”.

  2. Both of those are used regularly on northside Dublin (where I grew up) and have been for donkeys. Do you think perhaps that’s because it’s part of the Pale? Muppet! (There’s another one – or am I not allowed to use that because it’s American?)

  3. yeah ok almost none of that is irish it’s pure bad english that’s all how could it every build an identity since 1916?

  4. They are all spot on fairplay to ye, here’s another one, “I’d lamb bate yer one” meaning she’s fairly attractive mainly used in Dublin.

  5. Heres some to add to the list.. Flake – to send with excessive force – “he flaked the ball up the field” Gack – something horrid – “That sandwich was absolutely gack!”

  6. Ah jaysus to forget the ” The Shift” is criminal. “Eat the head off of” too as someone pointed out previously. ” I will yeah” had landed me in quite a few troublesome situations in work with misinterpretation… possibly round the list up to a 100? Also honour mention to ” ya Luadar” perhaps?

  7. Is it not MOH, as in My Other Half, as opposed to MOT? You missed some of the traveller slang that is used beyond the pale like BEURE/FEEN (not sure on the spelling) for good looking girl/boy…also the use of WOEFUL in the positive eg. “she was a woeful beure”, meaning that the girl was in fact, very good looking. Love the slang!

  8. ‘Yer man’ and ‘yer one’! This is on that we should not have to keep explaining! Please inform the masses.

  9. Obviously written by an Irish person: “to give out to” is a purely Irish phrasal verb. Should be on the list not used in an explanation!

  10. Very interesting for me.I have heard some of the sayings but surprised on some.Thanks for the post,I have shared in the USA to my Irish friends.

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