Here are 20 mad Irish phrases that make no sense to English speakers but are widely understood on the Emerald Isle.
Like most countries, Ireland has its very own colloquiums, which are a great part of Irish culture.
Thrown about with utter ease by locals, the following 20 mad Irish phrases are not always decipherable by tourists.
In a bid to help you bone up on your Irish slang, here are the top 20 phrases, what they mean, and how to use them.
20. Acting the maggot – nothing to do with the insect
Meaning: Acting the maggot simply means to be “messing about” or “playing around”.
Example: “Stop acting the maggot, you’re going to miss your bus!”
19. Go way outta that – or no way
Meaning: This phrase is used in conversation to signify disbelief, shock, or distaste. Other variants include “ara would you stop!”
Example: 1: “I once ate 50 Oreos in one go!” 2: “Go way outta that!”
18. Was it any use? – was it good?
Meaning: Directly translated to “how was it?” or “was it any good?” Oftentimes used in response to one reporting a night out, event or an experience to another person.
Example: 1: “I was out last night til’ all hours” 2: “Was it any use?”
17. Bucketing down – heavy rain
Meaning: It is raining very heavy. Again.
Example: 1: “Running out for a bit. Be home soon.” 2: “Are ye mad? It’s bucketing down!”
16. He’s a right chancer – risky business
Meaning: A “chancer” is someone who “chances their arm”. This mad Irish phrase that makes no sense to English speakers is used for someone who takes risks. They often can see opportunities and take initiatives to get what they want.
Example: 1: “Did you see him skip the taxi queue when it started to rain?” 2: “Ah he’s a right chancer!”
15. Donkey’s years – “it’s been donkey’s years”
Meaning: “Donkey’s years” means a long period of time. How long? Who knows!
Example: 1: “What time will you be home for dinner?” 2: “God only knows. I’ve been on this bus in traffic for donkey’s years!”
14. Giz a shot of that – can I have some, please?
Meaning: Simply translated to “what you have there, I want it, thanks”. Often the person saying this phrase will point or gesture to what they want.
Example: 1: lights a cigarette 2: “Giz a shot of that!” points at lighter
13. That dose is goin’ round – the flu
Meaning: This refers to the flu, cold or general sickness that seems to be affecting everyone you know.
Example: 1: “I saw Shelley today, she was saying she has been under the weather.” 2: “Ah yea, that dose is goin’ round”
12. Happy out – the out is unnecessary
Meaning: This mad Irish phrase that makes no sense to English speakers just means happy. Why we chose to add an “out” we will never know. Usually used in the present tense, to comment on your current state of satisfaction.
Example: “I know I’m happy out!”
11. Wreck the gaff – to destroy a place
Meaning: “Wreck the gaff” means to quite literally destroy a place or go wild. “Gaff” means house, home or place. However, this phrase can also be used to describe how loose one got on a night out on the razz (partying).
Example 1: “Jesus, you should have seen my house on Sunday morning, we wrecked the gaff”
Example 2: “Can’t wait for this week to be over, I’m going to go out and bleedin’ wreck the gaff!”
10. Black stuff – our favourite drink
Meaning: “The black stuff” translates to Guinness. In some smaller cities such as Cork, it can also refer to other stouts, such as Beamish and Murphy’s.
Example: 1: “What can I get you?” 2: “Giz a pint of the Black Stuff!”
9. Cute hoor – cheeky
Meaning: This mad Irish phrase that makes no sense to English speakers translates to someone who is a bit cheeky or a scoundrel. They work things to their advantage and put their wants first. This phrase can be used in relation to how someone manages their business practice or politics.
Example: 1: “Did you see the way David took up all the boss’s time with his proposal? No one else even got to talk!” 2: “Sure look, he’s a cute hoor.”
8. Eat the head off ya – annoyed
Meaning: This mad Irish phrase that makes no sense to English speakers means to “give out” or “get annoyed” at someone.
Example: 1: “What time will you be home tonight?” 2: “Well after you ate the head off me last night for being late, I’ll be home straight after work!”
7. Effin’ and blindin’ – swearing
Meaning: A direct translation of this one is “cursing and swearing”
Example: 1: “Did you see my team won the match last week?” 2: “I know! Lads at the pub were effin’ and blindin’”
6. C’mere ’til I tell ya – or wait ’til ye hear this
Meaning: This mad Irish phrase that makes no sense to English speakers doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot. Instead, it signifies a story or anecdote to follow. It has to precede following information.
Example: 1: “Did you know Amy used to date Jack?” 2: “C’mere til’ I tell ya, Amy has gone out with every guy in Dublin!”
5. Fair play! – good job
Meaning: Simply put: “good job”. Other variants include “good on ya” or “nice one!”
Example: 1: to manager “I think I’m done for the day”. 2: “Fair play!”
4. Now you are suckin’ diesel – progress
Meaning: This phrase can be used to acknowledge a situation which has recently improved, or where progress has been made.
Example: 1: “I’ve been trying to get this TV to work for the past hour. I only finally got it on just now!” 2: “Good on ya, now you are suckin’ diesel!”
3. State da ya – a mess
Meaning: This mad Irish phrase that makes no sense to English speakers is used to insinuate that the person on the receiving end is a mess or an idiot.
Example: 1: “What do you think of this costume for the party on Friday?” 2: “Bleedin’ state da ya!”
2. What’s the story? – a common greeting
Meaning: Directly translated to “what’s up”.
Example: 1: “What’s the story”. 2: “Ah nothing of any use, you?”
1. Where’z da jacks / jax? – the bathroom
Meaning: A question inquiring to the location of the toilet/bathroom. Also used as a statement that one is about to use the toilet/bathroom. This has to top our list of mad Irish phrases that make no sense to English speakers.
Example: 1: “Where you off to?” 2: “Where’z da jacks / jax?”