The Ultimate Guide to Irish Slang

Irish Slang

Updated On: April 21, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

We understand that when people come to Ireland it can be difficult to understand the range of accents but also to decipher our Irish slang.

If you haven’t seen that viral Kate Moss interview with British Vogue surfacing lately, where have you been? In the interview, the supermodel innocently recalled how her friend had nicknamed her the “wagon” on a trip to Ireland as she got very drunk one night. Unfortunately for Kate, “wagon” is not a term used to describe drunk people in Ireland but to describe people who are not very nice or unpleasant. To prevent the misunderstanding that poor Kate Moss and her friends ha, why not read our article below which will translate the most common Irish slang words and phrases you are likely to hear on a trip to the Emerald Isle.

Irish Slang to describe a person

Irish Slang
Friends chatting in a pub using Irish slang

Culchie

Culchie is a term that is used to describe rural people. This is typically people who live in the countryside and a small town or village. Culchies are the opposite to those that live in towns (who can be known as townies) and cities.

Langer

A langer is word used to offend or insult someone. A langer is someone who acts the fool or someone who is annoying. You will usually hear this word in Cork and it will be said in a sentence such as ” Oh, he is some langer” The plural of this word is also used to describe someone who is very drunk. For example, “I was langers last night”

Chancer

A chancer is a word used to describe someone who takes a chance on things and will try their luck to get something. A person who is described as a chancer can also be said to be “chancing their arm”. If a chancer sees an opportunity they will take it.

Gom

A Gom is an insult used to describe someone who is foolish. It can be also used in a mocking or joking way if someone does something stupid. “You are some gom!” If you spell this word backwards you get “mog”. This is also used as a word to describe someone foolish and it works in the same way as gom.

Amadán

Amadán is the Irish/Gaelic word for fool or idiot and it is often put into English sentences. For example, “What an Amadán” or “You Amadán” This isn’t used as commonly as gom or mog but you may hear it from time to time in Ireland.

Dote

Dote is a word used as a term of endearment. If someone calls you a dote take it as a compliment. You may hear “Oh you are such a dote”. It can also be used to describe something that is cute. For example, “Oh isn’t that just dotey”

Sap

While you want to be called a dote, you don’t want to be called a sap. A sap is a word used to describe someone who is sad, pathetic and foolish. It is also used to describe someone who is very emotional. For example, if someone started getting upset someone might say “Oh stop that you ol sap” It can also be used in a mocking manner.

Hooligan

A hooligan is a word used to describe someone who causes trouble. Hooligans cause distrubtions. “They are just a bunch of hooligans”

Maggot

A maggot is someone who also causes trouble. However a maggot doesn’t cause harm and the trouble they cause is usually for fun and not to cause harm. For example if someone was messing in class they might be told to “Stop acting the maggot”

Irish Slang to express Feelings

Bate

“Oh I am bate” If someone did some tiresome work or had a very long day they may use this term to describe how they are feeling. This term can also be used to describe a beating. “I am going to bate him” This can be used as a real threat or in a mocking way.

Banjaxed

Banjaxed is a word used similar to “bate”. For example, “I am banjaxed after that” It is used to describe someone or something that is broken or shattered. If you broke your phone you may say that it is banjaxed.

Grand

This is a word you will 100% hear when you come to Ireland. Grand is usually the response you will get if you ask someone how they are. “Hi how are you?” “Ah I’m grand thanks and yourself?” Grand essentially means that everything is alright, fine and ok.

Baloobas

“Oh I was baloobas yesterday” This term is used to describe someone who is very drunk. It is also used to describe someone who is acting wild or out of control. “Mouldy” is another word used to describe someone who is drunk. “

Plonker

A plonker is person that is a fool or an idiot.

Jammy Sod

This is a word used to describe someone who is very lucky. For example, “You jammy sod I knew you would win that”

Irish Slang Filler Words

Irish Slang
Irish conversation using Irish slang

Like

“Life” is often a term used in the South of Ireland. You will hear this said a lot in Cork. Typically you would hear the word “like” used to describe feelings towards something or someone or to show similarity. In Ireland “like” is more often used as a filler word, instead of pausing to think of what to say next, many Irish people will say “like” instead, either in the middle of a sentence or sentences or at the end of one. For example, you may hear “Do you know what I mean like?”

Well

Well” is often used as a way of saying hello in Irish slang. You will probable hear, “Well how are ya?” or just simply “Well?” being said amongst people when they see each other.

Wee

“Wee” is a word used commonly in Northern Ireland. “Wee” means little or small and is often put in front of an object. For example, “I live beside the wee shop around the corner”. Not only is it used to described objects but also as a term of endearment such as “my wee love”.

Whist

This word is often used to ask people to be quite or to shut up. For example, “Will ye be whist?” or simply “Whist will ya?”

Aye

This word means yes and you will mostly hear it in Northern Ireland. For example, “Aye I am around tonight.”

Ack/Ach

This is a word that is often put at the start of sentences. For example, “Ack go on then I’ll have one more” or “Ack no I don’t want to go there”.

Irish Slang words for people

Your wan

“Your wan” is a word used to describe a woman. It is a loose description of someone who is not known well. For example someone might say “Your wan in the shop told me to buy it” or “Would you look at your wan over there”. People may also say “Aul wan” to describe their mother. For example, “My aul wan said I can’t go”

Feen

Feen is a word used to describe a man. For example, “Look at all the feens”

Beour

Beour is the female version of feen and it is used to describe a woman. For example, “How’s the beour?”

Sham

Sham is often a word used to describe something that is fraud. For example, if something wasn’t working properly someone might say “What a sham!” You will usually here this word used to describe a friend or person. For example, “How are you sham?” or “How’s the sham?”

Yous

This word is the plural for one person. It is used for talking about a group of people. For example, “Are yous going to the cinema.”

Irish Phrases

Irish Slang

I’m Weak

No, this does not mean that you are not physically strong or that you are about to faint. “I’m weak” is a phrase used to express laughter. If something funny happens you will often hear someone say “Oh I am weak that is too funny.”

Penney’s – Thank you

The Irish cannot take compliments. We get flustered and don’t know how to simply say thank you for it. When you give an Irish person a compliment about their clothing they will 8 times out of 10 respond with “Penney’s” if the piece of clothing is from Primark. Instead of taking the compliment they will tell you where it is from. Simply saying “Thank you” will not cut it.

I’m allergic

Now if food isn’t involved and you hear someone say “Oh I’m allergic” they are probably saying that they don’t want to to do something. It essentially means that the thought of doing such a task is going to make them come out in a rash.

Cop on

Cop on means “will you stop”. This will usually be said if someone is messing and they are told to stop acting the ejit or fool. Another example of cop on used in another context: “It took her awhile to cop on to it” To cop on to something is to become aware of something.

I made a hames of that

To make a hames of something is to mess something up. Or if someone says “What a hames” it means “what a disaster”.

He is only plámásing you

A lot of Irish slang comes from the Irish language. If someone is plámásing you they are sweet talking you and essentially telling you what you want to hear. People may also describe this as a word for someone that is messing with you.

It is Baltic

Freezing cold. When someone says that it is Baltic outside you better wrap up with a hat and scarf. If you are baltic it means that you are frozen with the cold.

What’s the craic

Out of all the Irish phrases this is probably the one you have heard the most. “What’s the craic” means “What’s happening, what’s the story? How are you? Any News?” Craic is a word that is used to describe a good time. If you asked someone how was their night they might respond with “Oh it was great craic!”

I am up to ninety

If you hear someone say this it means that they are very busy. For example, “We had the party on Friday and the wedding on the Saturday, sure we were up to ninety all weekend.”

Come here to me

Come here to me translates to “Listen to this” or ” I have something to tell you”. When someone says “come here to me”, you are usually right beside them so they aren’t asking you to come closer but to say something to you. It is a sentence to grab your attention and to listen up to what they have to say. Typically a secret or some unknown information is what follows.

What a dose

If someone says “What a dose” they are basically saying “How annoying”.

Go away out of that

If someone tells you to “Go away out of that” then they are asking you to stop what you are saying or that you are telling lies.

Like a house on fire

You may have heard the saying “They get on like a house on fire”, this essentially means that they get on very well.

Stop faffin about

If someone tells you to stop faffin about, they are telling you to stop wasting time or to stop messing about.

Donkeys years

Donkeys years is saying that is well “Donkeys years old”! For example, if something happened awhile ago someone might say “It has been donkeys years since I have been there”

Lose the rag

You don’t want an Irish person to tell you that they are going to “lose the rag with you”, as this means that they are going get very angry.

I will ya

If someone replies to a question you ask them with “I will ya” this means that they must certainly will not do what your asking them to. Now this phrase also depends on tone of voice.

Laudy Daw

“Oh laudy daw” is usually said in response to a statement of snobbery. For example, if someone said they were going to buy a brand new car and stay in a 5 star hotel for the night an Irish person might respond with this phrase. It is said in a more mocking sense.

I tell a lie

This phrase is often used if someone made a mistake or said something that is untrue or inaccurate. For example, “Oh actually no I tell a lie, it was on Wednesday not Thursday.”

Bout ye

This is a way of saying “How are you” This is similar to “What’s the craic”.

Up to High Doh

If someone says that they are “up to high doh” this means that they are very stressed and anxious about something. They are worried beyond compare.

Irish Slang to describe an object/event

Irish Slang
You will hear Irish slang be used everyday in Ireland

Massive

Usually you would think that massive would mean big but when this term is used in Ireland it means something else. Massive is a term used to describe something fabulous and lovely. For example, if an Irish person says to you “Oh wow you look massive! Enjoy your night” Do not take offence as they are saying you look beautiful. This can be used for both appearances and food. It can be hard to distinguish when it means “huge” massive or “beautiful” massive but the text and tone of voice usually gives a clue.

Cat

No, not the animal. Cat is used to describe something horrible or disgusting. For example, “Oh that dress is cat” or “Don’t eat that chocolate it is cat” So, if someone describes your cooking or clothes as cat, just remember it is an insult not a compliment.

Gaff

A Gaff is another word used for house. For example, ” You can come to my gaff after the cinema” If you hear of someone having “a gaff party” that is a house party.

Messages

One of my favourite words as it is old school, the “messages” are the groceries. It is quite an old term and it isn’t used by many people anymore. If you hear of someone saying “I must go into town and get the messages” they are basically saying they are going into town to do their shopping.

Manky

If something is manky it is horrible and not nice. Similar to “cat”, manky is an insult. This word is used with a look of disgust on ones face.

Yoke

Yoke is used to describe an object and it is used instead of the word “thing”. It is pronounced the same as the yolk of an egg. Someone might say “What’s this yoke used for?” or “Get that yoke away from me”

Now that you know the basic and main Irish slang that is used on the island of Ireland you will be an expert on your visit to Ireland.

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