Caveat: because I grew up in the Midwest of the USA and am accustomed to such Fargo-like isms such as “ya betcha” and “pret’near”, I feel I can write about this topic in an unbiased, non-judging manner. Oh, and even poke fun a little bit.

This post sets out to help you avoid any embarrassing moments of confusion or shock when confronted with some commonly used Irish slang words or expressions while you are living in or visiting Ireland. After nearly 5 years of living here, I’ve heard so many new terms and phrases that I would venture to say that clever Irish communication style is one the of the top things Ireland has on offer. It most certainly makes my day on a regular basis!

So, without further adieu, here is Part 1, A-J, the shortlisted glossary of my favourite Irish slang words and phrases derived from both farm country and city life alike:

Ask Me Arse: (v) (rhetorical) What do you take me for.  “You need a lift to Dublin to go shopping? Ask me arse! That’s tree (3) hours away!”

Bang On: (adj) Correct. Perfectly accurate. “Ohhhh, that Tiffany key necklace is bang on sweetie. May I please have one?”

Banjaxed: (adj) Broken. Severely damaged. “Me head is totally banjaxed after last night’s (drinking) session with the lads”

Babby (n) Baby. Small Child. Name of Imen’s forthcoming babywear line. “Me ma had her first babby when she was 12 and never looked back”

Bejeebus: (expr) By Jesus. “Bejeebus! The magpies are savage round here this year!”

Black Stuff. (n) Stout. “I’ll take a pint of the black stuff and a half-pint of Bulmer’s for the lady”

The Business. (n) Something cool. “Monart Spa is the business, don’t you think sweetie? We really must get away for a weekend soon”

Call. (v) to drop by someone’s home. (usually unexpectedly). “I think I’ll just call over to Imen’s this morning, I’m sure she’ll be well prepared for guests.” {yeah right}

Craic. (n) pronounced “crack”.  Fun. “There’s great craic to be found at the pub round the corner”  {and you most likely won’t get arrested for it}

Chancer (n) Untrustworthy person.  “That aul chancer, he’d better put it right”

Cow. (n) crabby lady. “She’s a right old cow, but sure, she always goes to mass on time so she’s grand”

Da. (n) Father. Irish for father.  “Me and me Da used to go sloe picking in the fields.”

Doss (on the) (n) Failing to show up for work/school during specified hours. “I swear I wasn’t on de doss, I really did have a brain transplant yesterday!’

Dub. (adj) Someone from Dublin. “Once a Dub, always a Dub”

Eejit. (n) Person of limited mental capacity. Complete moron. “That eejit is back on Fair City again”

Fair Play. (expr) Well done. “Fair play to all of ye who finally put grit down on the icy roads!”

Fanny. (n) Female genitals. {and I don’t mean your bum} “She had on no knickers and you could see her fanny, to think!!”

Feck. (v)(n) Politically correct term for f**k.  “Oh feck! I said f**k!”

Full Shilling. (not the) (adj) Mentally challenged. “All those loud Americans…definitely not of the full shilling”

Gas. (adj) Amusing. Funny. Hilarious. “That Des Bishop sure is gas”

Give out. (v) To yell. Scream. Reprimand.  “Me mum’s giving out to me again fer wearing too much mascara and me tacky white leather boots!”

Grand. (adj) Fine. Good. “Who me? Sure, I’m grand”

Happy Out. (adj). To be content. “Just leave me at Brown Thomas for the afternoon and I’ll be happy out”

Holy Show. (v) To make a big deal out of something. “Bejeebus! he really made a holy show of things!”

Hooley.(n) Raucous celebration involving drinking and singing. “There’s a hooley on tonite at Kelly’s!”

Howaya/Hiya/Heya. (greeting). Hi. Hello. “Heya, anything strange(new)with you?”

Jacks (n) Toilet. Restroom. “Did you see the state of de jacks in there?! They couldn’t be arsed to have em cleaned” note: the term toilet is used here more so than bathroom/restroom…”I need to go to the toilet” is a very common expression or “I’m going to the loo”.

Janey Mack! (expr) Expression of utter disbelief. Wow! “Janey Mack! That See by Chloe bag would be half the price in the USA!”

Jar (n). A pint of beer or stout. “Okay so, let’s dander down to the local for a jar or two”

So that’s part one, stay tuned for part two…

Thank you for all of your emails for last week’s drawing to win Donal Skehan’s, Good Mood Food. And the winner is: Cathy Stephens of Baton Rouge, LA. USA. Congratulations!

Slan Abhaile,


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