Irish slang

Venturing into the emerald heart of the Irish isle? It’s not just about the rolling green landscapes or the historic castles; it’s a world steeped in a rich linguistic tapestry that many might find bewitchingly baffling. Here, we’ve curated the most classic Irish slang terms, brimming with their meanings, origins, and illustrative tales. Whether you’re Irish by birth, or simply an intrigued wanderer, this guide will usher you through the intricate maze of Ireland’s iconic vernacular. Dive in and converse like a true local! Without further ado, here’s our all-encompassing list of Irish slang:


  • Meaning: Fun or enjoyment. It’s often used to ask how someone is doing or what’s happening.
  • Origin: Derived from the English word “crack,” meaning “news” or “gossip,” but the Irish adopted and made it their own.
  • Usage: “What’s the craic?” or “We had great craic last night.”


  • Meaning: Broken or ruined.
  • Origin: Unknown, but it’s been a popular term in Ireland for decades.
  • Usage: “My phone is completely banjaxed.”


  • Meaning: To tease someone.
  • Origin: Originally an English term, it’s taken on a playful meaning in Ireland.
  • Usage: “Don’t mind him; he’s only slagging you.”


  • Meaning: Amazed or astounded.
  • Origin: ‘Gob’ is a slang term for mouth, so the word suggests being hit in the mouth out of surprise.
  • Usage: “I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard the news.”


  • Meaning: Very drunk.
  • Origin: Possibly from the English term “languish.”
  • Usage: “He was langers last night.”


  • Meaning: Idiot.
  • Origin: A variation of the English word “idiot.”
  • Usage: “Don’t be such an eejit.”


  • Meaning: Fine or alright.
  • Origin: Adopted from the English word “grand,” but used more colloquially in Ireland.
  • Usage: “How are you?” “I’m grand.”


  • Meaning: Thing or object.
  • Origin: Originally meant a wooden crosspiece, but the meaning evolved in Ireland.
  • Usage: “Hand me that yoke over there.”


  • Meaning: House or place.
  • Origin: Unknown.
  • Usage: “Come over to my gaff later.”


  • Meaning: Friend or mate.
  • Origin: Possibly derived from “shamrock,” a symbol of Ireland.
  • Usage: “Alright, sham?”


  • Meaning: Guy or man.
  • Origin: A variation of the English word “fellow.”
  • Usage: “Who’s that fella over there?”


  • Meaning: An annoying person or thing.
  • Origin: Related to the English use of the word to mean a quantity of medicine, but the context is different.
  • Usage: “That fella is an absolute dose.”


  • Meaning: Exhausted.
  • Origin: From “knacker,” someone who slaughters old or sick horses.
  • Usage: “I’m totally knackered after that workout.”


  • Meaning: Really cool or great.
  • Origin: Unlike the English meaning which relates to something lethal, in Ireland, it’s a positive term.
  • Usage: “That new song is deadly!”


  • Meaning: Very crowded.
  • Origin: Possibly from “jam-packed.”
  • Usage: “The pub was jammers last night.”


  • Meaning: Girlfriend.
  • Origin: Possibly derived from the English “mott,” referring to a girl.
  • Usage: “Did you meet his new mot?”


  • Meaning: A softer expletive than the F-word, but used in a similar way.
  • Origin: An alternative to a stronger swear word.
  • Usage: “Feck it, I forgot my keys.”


  • Meaning: Funny.
  • Origin: Not related to fuel; it’s more about something that’s entertaining.
  • Usage: “That film was gas.”


  • Meaning: Sleep or nap.
  • Origin: Possibly from the Dutch word “kippen,” meaning to catch or snatch.
  • Usage: “I need a quick kip.”

Black Stuff

  • Meaning: Guinness.
  • Origin: Refers to the dark color of the famous Irish stout.
  • Usage: “Pour me a pint of the black stuff.”


  • Meaning: Someone from the countryside.
  • Origin: From “bog,” referring to the peat bogs common in rural Ireland.
  • Usage: “He’s a true bogger.”


  • Meaning: Very drunk.
  • Origin: From the idea of being so drunk one is like bone – stiff and unmovable.
  • Usage: “He was ossified after that party.”


  • Meaning: A small and cozy part of a pub, often private.
  • Origin: From the idea of being close and comfortable.
  • Usage: “Let’s grab a seat in the snug.”


  • Meaning: Someone who is opportunistic and takes risks.
  • Origin: Likely from the act of taking a ‘chance’.
  • Usage: “He’s a real chancer, trying to skip the queue.”


  • Meaning: A traditional Irish dish made of sausages, bacon, onions, and potatoes.
  • Origin: The term refers to the slow simmering or ‘coddling’ of the ingredients.
  • Usage: “Grandma makes the best coddle.”


  • Meaning: Embarrassed.
  • Origin: Refers to the reddening of the face when one is embarrassed.
  • Usage: “I was scarlet when I tripped in front of everyone.”


  • Meaning: Very drunk.
  • Origin: Unclear, but a beloved term in Irish slang.
  • Usage: “We got absolutely fluthered last night.”

Acting the maggot

  • Meaning: Misbehaving or fooling around.
  • Origin: Likely from the idea of a maggot wriggling or being uncontrollable.
  • Usage: “Stop acting the maggot and get to work!”

Fair play

  • Meaning: Well done or congratulations.
  • Origin: Direct translation of the words, implying a fair move or action.
  • Usage: “Fair play to you for winning the match.”


  • Meaning: Someone who envies or resents someone else’s success.
  • Origin: From ‘begrudge’, to envy someone for their possessions or success.
  • Usage: “Don’t be a begrudger; congratulate him.”


  • Meaning: To do something the wrong way.
  • Origin: A more colorful way to describe a backward or incorrect method.
  • Usage: “You’ve done it all arseways!”

The Jacks

  • Meaning: The toilet or bathroom.
  • Origin: Uncertain, but a commonly understood term in Ireland.
  • Usage: “Where’s the jacks? I need to go.”


  • Meaning: A very attractive person.
  • Origin: Possibly from the idea of someone being so attractive you’d like to “ride” or be with them.
  • Usage: “Did you see her? She’s a ride!”


  • Meaning: Dirty or disgusting.
  • Origin: Possibly from mangy, referring to something in bad condition.
  • Usage: “Don’t wear those manky shoes.”


  • Meaning: A derogatory term for someone considered trashy or low class.
  • Origin: Uncertain.
  • Usage: “Look at that skanger with the ripped jeans.”

Wet the tea

  • Meaning: To make a pot of tea.
  • Origin: From the act of adding hot water to tea leaves or a tea bag.
  • Usage: “Will you wet the tea? I’m parched.”


  • Meaning: Reliable, trustworthy, or a good person.
  • Origin: Likely from the idea that something “sounds good”.
  • Usage: “She’s sound out, always there for you.”


  • Meaning: A long time.
  • Origin: Possibly an abbreviation of “donkey’s years,” another slang term for a long time.
  • Usage: “I haven’t seen him in yonks.”


  • Meaning: Exhausted or very drunk.
  • Origin: A variation of the term “bollocks” which means testicles, but in this context implies being messed up.
  • Usage: “I’m absolutely bollixed after that workout.”


  • Meaning: Shocked or deeply affected by something.
  • Origin: Derived from “shaken”.
  • Usage: “After hearing that news, I’m absolutely shook.”


  • Meaning: Very or quite.
  • Origin: Alteration of “queer” used in a positive sense.
  • Usage: “That’s quare good.”

That’s it for our list of Irish slang phrases. We hope you’ve found this compilation both enlightening and entertaining. While the world of slang is ever-evolving, these Irish terms offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Ireland’s linguistic heritage. If you think we’ve missed any quintessential Irish slang, do let us know in the comments below. Keep diving into the Emerald Isle’s vibrant lexicon!👍😊

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