When traveling abroad, many Americans prefer to head to countries where English is widely spoken. Not only does it make getting around easier; it also simplifies interacting with the locals. But just as Americans use idioms and figures of speech that foreigners may not understand, English-speakers in other countries might use slang phrases that will keep tourists on their toes. (For instance, check out the Canadian slang and phrases Americans just don’t understand.)
English is the primary language in Ireland, but that doesn’t mean that Americans will understand everything an Irish person says. To find Irish words and phrases Americans might not understand, 24/7 Tempo reviewed various sources for Irish slang or usages, including YouTube videos, blogs, and Irish online news sites.
Some of these words and phrases are common throughout the U.K. and even as far as Australia and New Zealand, while many are particular to Ireland or Northern Ireland. A few are derived from Irish (also called Gaelic or Gaeilge), the island’s native language) while others are words we use in the U.S. but that have different meanings here. (These are the 35 most Irish cities in America.)
> Meaning: An attractive person
When in Ireland, be careful asking for a ride in a taxi. A ride is a racy term for someone hot enough to tangle with; for example, “That waiter is a total ride.” It can also refer to doing the deed.
> Meaning: A house
A gaff is another word for a house. Teenagers can often be heard saying they’ve got a “free gaff,” which means their parents aren’t home and they are having a party.
> Meaning: A fish and chips shop
After a long night out, a group of friends might hit up the local chipper – a fast food shop that sells deep-fried foods like fish and chips.
> Meaning: A unit of measurement
Widely used for measuring body weight, the stone, equaling 14 pounds, is a unit of measure that dates back hundreds of years and was once common around Northern Europe.. The actual weight varied, depending on the town, as the weight was originally associated with a literal stone and no two were identical.
> Meaning: Naughty
While bold generally means courageous in the U.S., the term takes a more negative connotation in Ireland, where calling someone bold is an accusation of bad behavior.
> Meaning: Adhesive bandage
If you get a cut in Ireland, someone may offer you a plaster to stick on your wound. It’ll look just like a Band-Aid.
> Meaning: Cash register
A grocery store clerk will ring you up and place your money in the till.
> Meaning: Expensive
If someone says that dinner was dear, they don’t mean that it was beloved; they mean that it was too costly.
> Meaning: Dirty, disgusting
Meaning rotten, disgusting, or just plain horrible, manky can be used to describe anything from the weather to the month-old leftovers in the back of the fridge.
> Meaning: Extremely drunk
Considering that a langer is a fool or an idiot, it’s not surprising that being langered is being incredibly intoxicated.
> Meaning: Embarrassed
Referring to the color of one’s cheeks when they are humiliated, scarlet means embarrassed. You can also be scarlet for a friend if they did something embarrassing and you’re feeling for them.
> Meaning: Excellent
A catch-all for anything great, savage means something is awesome, amazing, etc.
> Meaning: Fun
Craic roughly translates to fun or good times, as in, “Are you up for a bit of craic tonight?” Minus craic, on the other hand, is a popular phrase meaning “no fun.”
> Meaning: Shopping
Getting the messages means running errands or shopping for groceries, hardware, or other sundries.
What’s the story?
> Meaning: How is it going?
While we may say “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?” in the U.S., the Irish equivalent is “What’s the story?”
> Meaning: I have just…
If someone in Ireland says, “I’m after eating breakfast,” they mean that they have just eaten breakfast.
I will in my hole
> Meaning: I will absolutely not
As the word hole is an expletive for anus in Ireland, the phrase “I will in my hole,” is a snarky way of saying that you refuse to do something.
> Meaning: A long time
If someone says they haven’t seen their sister in donkey’s years, they mean they haven’t seen her ages.
The black stuff
> Meaning: Guinness
Ask a bartender for a pint of the black stuff, and you’ll get a frothy mug of Guinness stout.
> Meaning: Intense kiss
Getting a shift means making out or doing what some Americans might call French kissing.
> Meaning: Lucky
Jammy means incredibly lucky, maybe undeservedly so. If you find an envelope of money on the sidewalk, people may call you a jammy sod.
> Meaning: Potato chips
Ask for chips and you’ll get a serving of thick-cut fried potatoes that are not quite as crispy as American French fries. If what you actually want is potato chips, then ask for crisps.
> Meaning: Rich
Minted means wealthy. For example, “Can’t your mum just pay for it? She’s minted!”
> Meaning: An opportunist
A chancer is a risk-taking person who may try to get away with something or fool others in order to get ahead.
> Meaning: Severe illness
Having a bad dose generally means having a severe bout of the flu or a stomach bug.
> Meaning: Sneakers
Sneakers are often called runners in Ireland, but they are also referred to as tackies in certain areas.
> Meaning: Thank you
From riders departing from the bus to bar patrons receiving their pint from the bartender, you’ll often hear people saying “cheers” in the place of “thanks.”
> Meaning: That thing
Like a thingamajig, a yoke is an item a person can’t remember the name of.
> Meaning: That’s cool
Class is a word used to compliment someone or something, or express a favorable opinion about it.
> Meaning: Funny
“A gas” can refer to a person or a situation that is funny. It is also used to express amazement or disbelief, as in, “You got struck by lightning? That’s gas!”
> Meaning: The police
The Irish police force is called “An Garda SÃochÃ¡na,” which means “Guardians of the Peace.” It is shortened to garda when people are referring to police officers.
> Meaning: The time is 3:30
While we may say it’s half past three, Irish folks may just say it’s half three and mean the same thing.
> Meaning: The trunk of a car
Irish parents may tell their children to go “pop the boot,” meaning to go open the trunk of the car.
Now we’re sucking diesel
> Meaning: Things are going very well
Sucking diesel means things are going extraordinarily well, or are getting back on track after an obstacle.
> Meaning: Tired
Usually after spending a long night out, if someone says they’re wrecked, they’re exhausted.
To give out
> Meaning: To complain
While giving out means complaining or going off on a rant, giving out to someone means scolding them or telling them off.
> Meaning: Move quickly
Legging it means heading somewhere quickly, often on foot.
On the lash
> Meaning: To go out drinking
While lash can refer to hard rain, going on the lash means heading out for a round of boozing.
> Meaning: To make fun of
Slagging someone is a way of teasing or poking fun at them that is considered affectionate rather than malicious.
> Meaning: Country person
Similar to the term hillbilly, a culchie can refer to a person who is from a rural area and is considered to be unsophisticated; in Dublin, it can mean anybody who isn’t from Dublin.
> Meaning: Toilet
If you overhear someone say, “Where’s the jacks?” they are referring to the toilet.
> Meaning: Broken
Banjaxed can be used to mean someone or something that is ruined, destroyed, tired, or drunk.
> Meaning: Used to end a sentence
Just as Americans may overuse the word “like” as a filler in the middle of sentences or thoughts, the Irish will often end sentences with “like” as a way to accentuate the story.
> Meaning: Very
Quare can mean a range of things, from very, as in, “The kids were quare noisy today,” to terrific, to odd.
Up to 90
> Meaning: Very busy
Up to 90 can mean flat out busy, as well as incredibly agitated, or having reached your limit.
> Meaning: Very cool, fantastic
Deadly can mean fantastic, brilliant, or just plain awesome, as in, “That cake was deadly!”
Stall the ball!
> Meaning: Wait a second!
Someone might say, “Stall the ball,” when they mean, “Hold on a minute.”
> Meaning: Well done
Fair play is used as a congratulatory statement, as in, “I heard you passed the bar. Fair play!”
Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor
Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Tempo Editorial team.