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Irish-English (Hiberno-English) terms and phrases

Afters

Dessert


[To be] after

Used in several past-tense verb forms.

• "I'm after winning the lotto" means "I won the lotto."
• "I was after winning the lotto" means "I had won the lotto."

[See you] after

[See you] later


[Tell her I was] askin' after [her]


Not so much "inquiring about" as "sending regards," whether a mere "say hello to" or a more-serious "tell him/her [on my behalf] to get well."

And (me [etc.] [doing something]) ...


"It was half-four and me coming out of there..."

And the rest.

You can say that again.

Agreement in full

Anything strange?

What's new?

Usually pronounced "ent'n strange?"

Amn't I?

Aren't I?


Are y'alright?

Not so much a question as a general greeting, in a shop or pub.

Roughly translated: "May I help you?" One response is "could I have a Guinness, please." There is no rude connotation in the phrase. In a late club, "Y'alright, lads, please" means it's time to clear out.

Arsewise

Ass-backwards


Ask me bollocks

Bullshit

"If you want to know the answer, you'll have to question my testicles" — either Podge or Rodge.

At nothin'

Wasting your time, effort, etc.

"... at nutn" ...

[See the] back of

Be rid of

"I think he'll just be glad to see the back of ya."

Bang on

Spot on

(That's exactly correct.)

Bang out of order

Out of line, unacceptable

Similar to "not on."

Banjaxed

Broken down


Bells

Time of day

"8 bells," e.g. — 8 o'clock

[Your] best man

The best option

A particular object, for example

Bet

Beat (past tense or present conditional)

As in, "defeated" or "will/would defeat."
Also as in "bet the head off ya."

BIFFO

Acronym for "big ignorant fucker from Offaly"

Predates the political rise of Brian Cowen, Taoiseach [Prime Minister] from May of 2008 until January of 2011.

Black

Crowded

(A pub, for example)

[Can't get] blood from a stone

[Can't get] blood from a turnip

(If you don't have the money, you don't have it.)

Blow

Hashish


[Like a] blue-arsed fly

Running around...

(Freneticaly busy)

Bob

Pounds*

"A few bob," or "the few bob." The expression has carried over, and is used in reference to the euro.

Bob's your uncle.

You've got it made.


Bold

Poorly-behaved


Brilliant

Excellent

Not a comment about intelligence, but an expression of enthusiastic approval. "Brillo" is a common abbreviation.

Bucketin'

Raining hard


Buckled, etc.

Drunk

("Pissed", in European English.)

Buffer

Settled person, to a Traveller

Irish Travellers are a nomadic minority population.

[You'd think] butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

He acts like he thinks he's pure.


'Bye. 'Bye. 'Bye. 'Bye. 'Bye.

Telephone sendoff.

(Quick succession, variable-speed repetition.)

Cacks

Pants

Most commonly heard as "relax the cacks."

Cat

No good

(Shortened version of a Gaelic word I cannot spell.)

Caught out

Caught, found out

...caught in the act, caught with one's hand in the cookie jar...

Caught rotten

Caught red-handed

...like "caught out," but worse(r)

Caught lovely

Same as "caught rotten," but from the opposite perspective


Chalk and cheese

Night and day

("Different as...")

Chance [v.]

To risk

see also "chance the arm."

Chance the arm

To take a risk, expose oneself to embarrassment

In a feud between the Irish families Ormond and Kildare in 1492, Sir James Butler, Earl of the Ormonds, holed up in Dublin's Saint Patrick's Cathedral. After several weeks, Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of the Kildares, decided he wanted to end the feud. He went to the cathedral and requested entry. He promised he would do no harm. Sir James was suspicious, and refused him. Sir Gerald hacked through the door a hole just big enough that he could extend his arm inside as a gesture of peace. James accepted, and the feud ended. So goes the story. But the phrase is as Irish as Taytos.

Chancer

One who risks

(But the connotation is not favorable.) ... "God loves a tryer, not a chancer." ...

Chipper

Fish-and-chip shop

Also "chippie"

Clatter (n.)

Scuffle


Close

Humid

(The Irish talk about weather habitually.) ...

C'mere 'til I tell ya

Listen [to this]

Often simply "c'mere..."

Coddin'

Kidding or joking with

"I'm not coddin' ya."

Cooker

Stovetop and oven unit

From the wider European (British) English

Cop on

Get a grip, come to your senses, get a clue.

"Some cop-on" = "some common sense."

Craic

Craic is an Irish word, the rarity that is regularly used in Irish English

• Good times, convivial humor
• "What's the craic?" — What's up? / How's it going?
• "It was good craic" — a good time.
• "Any craic?" — Anything going on?

Often spelled "crack," as it's pronounced.

Culchie

Country person

From either "agricultural;" or one of several Irish-language words. Derogatory. See jackeen.

Cute

Sly, devious, clever

A "cute hoor" is a sly fellow

How's she cuttin'?

How're you doin'?

May be agricultural in origin

Daub (somebody) in it

Turn (somebody) in

"Drop the dime"

The day that was in it

The conditions being what they were


Dear

Expensive

  note: this one is Euro-English.

[Not a] dickie-bird

Nothing, nobody

"I rang them half-four. Not a dickie-bird."

Digout

Assistance with a task; helping hand


Dinner

Lunch


Divil the bit

Nothing

(In response to a "what's happening" question.) Literal meaning uncertain.

Does be

is

(emphasized form)

[The] dog's bollocks

The shit

[The business; the real thing]

[Made a] dog's dinner [of it]

[Made] shit [of it,] loused it up


Donkey's years

A long time

Also "Zonks"

Don't give a monkey's

Don't give a rat's ass

(No mention of which part of the monkey one "doesn't give" in feeling no concern.)

Don't know meself

I'm a new person

Said of an improved employment situation, for example

Don't work too hard


A common way to wish a good day to someone who's working or heading toward their job.

Doss

Goof off at work


[Had] drink taken

[Was] under the influence

The gards and the judges talk this way, and newspapers report it so.

Drop the hand

Grab somebody's ass (arse)


Eejit

Idiot


Effin' and blindin'

Cursing to high heaven


Either

Also

"You could do that, either."

Et

Eat or ate

As in "chew out," castigate

Fair play

Well done

Often "fair play to ya" (same as "fair f*cks to ya")

Fair f*cks to ya

Way to go

Same as "fair play"

Fanny

Vagina


Feck

Mild form of the expletive "fuck."

Acceptable in polite informal situations

Fierce (adv.)

Very

See "fierce and savage"

Flagon

2-litre plastic bottle (of hard cider)


Flange

Vagina

Possibly mostly Dublin

Flutter

The buzz one gets from gambling

"He enjoys an aul' flutter."

Footpath

Sidewalk

"Pavement," in European English

Fuck up

Shut up

(Sort of a hybrid of "shut up" and "fuck off")

Gaff

Flat, apartment, house


Gammy

Shitty, useless


Garda

Policeman; member of An Garda Síochána

Plural gardaí (formally.) Coloquially, however, "gard" and "gards"

Gargle (n)

The drink


Gas (adj.)

Funny

"You're a gas man"

Gee (n)

Vagina

(Pronounced "ghee," with hard-g sound)

Ghost estate

Empty housing development

A vestige of the runaway "Celtic Tiger" economy

Git

Derisive term for a person


Giving out

Voicing disapproval

Complaining, asserting opinion or emotion. "Giving out yards" is the same, but more of it.

Gobsmacked

Flabbergasted


Good man y'rself

Well done


[A] good skin

A good person


Go 'way

You don't say


Grá

Love

"Shackleton, whose gra for a glass of whisky is well known...." — Irish Independent (newspaper)

Grand

[Doing] fine

"Oh, you're grand."

(The) guts of

Most of


Half-nut'n' (half-nothing)

Very cheap


Hames (of it)

Mess (of it)

"Made a hames of it." Rare, in modern use.

Handy

Easy

1.) "Take it handy"
2.) "A handy job" (easy, manageable work)

Have it on me toes

Go, leave


Head on [him or her.]

A person's demeanor, visible from a distance.

"Did you see the big old contrary head on him."

Hole in the wall

ATM

Also "drink link."

Hot press

Closet holding water-heater


Homely

Homey, cozy

In American english, "homely" means "ugly," or near enough to it.

Hoor

Fellow

(Mildly derogatory)

"How's the form?"

"How's it going?"

Often followed by "... Are y' well?"

Hungry

Greedy


I wouldn't mind, only....

The strange thing is....

Can be disconcerting in discussion of a serious matter. Does not mean "I wouldn't mind."

If

Often omitted; word order changed

"I was wondering could I (...)" (I was wondering if I could [...] )

Ignorant

Ill-behaved, rude


Jackeen

Dubliner

(To country person.) Derogatory. See culchie.

Jacks, bog, trap

Loo, toilet (European;) bathroom, restroom (American.)

Slang; loo and toilet are the common usage.

Jammy

Flukey

Related to "waxy," although "waxy" tends to refer to an event whereas "Jammy' describes a more-general characteristic. "That was waxy," or "you waxed that one," vesus "you're a jammy bastard."

Jar

Pint

(of beer)

Jocks

Underpants

Just

Emphasis, at end of sentence

"Nice weather." "Isn't it just?"

Just about

Pretty much

"How're ya, lads?"
"Ah sure still alive anyhow."
"Just about."

Kip

1) n. and v. Sleep.
2) n. A dive; a delapidated or messy place.


Knob

Penis



Langer

Idiot, fool, prick; literally, "penis."

Corkonian, ad to national use by Roy Keane, a famous/infamous soccer player.

Langered

Drunken


Leave [v.]

Let

Give permission. "He won't leave us dig up the back garden."

Leave it with me.

I'll look into it.


[Do a] legger

Abscond, go away; walk off the job.


Leg-over (n.)

Sex


Lifted (somebody) out of it

Gave out (to somebody,) in a big way.


[,] like.

(Always at end of statement.)

"But I was here on time, like."

Lads

Y'all, or them ("the lads")

Non-gender and non-age specific


Local (n.)

One's usual pub

Needn't be the closest; only the most-accustomed.

[On the] long finger

On the back burner

Not highly prioritized

Long stand

Non-existent joke item

One of several fictional goods for which a newcomer on a construction site may be sent to the supply shack

Lose the head


Self-explanatory

Lovely


Common expression of acceptability

Made a show of (somebody or oneself)

Made a fool of (somebody or oneself)


Made up

Entirely pleased


Acting the maggot

Being unruly or annoying

Often said of (or to) a child

Manky

Filthy, grimy


Meant to be

Reputed to be

"It's meant to be brilliant" = "I've heard it's great."

Mental

Crazy (situation, etc.)

Message

Errand

"Doing some messages" can be anything from picking up some groceries to putting in a bet at the booking office.

Messin'

Kidding (around)


Mind yourself

"Take care," or "be careful there"

In general, upon departure, or specific to a potential danger

Mingin'

Filthy, dirty, foul-smelling


[the] Mockers

[a] Jinx

To "put the mockers on [something]" is to bring bad luck by mentioning a negative possibility.

Muck-savage

Country bumpkin


Muppet

Dumbass


Naggin

Hip-flask (of whiskey, etc.)

Usually 200 ml., in modern times

Neck (n.)

Nerve

"You have some neck" — you really know how to push your luck.

Neck (v.)

Drink forthwith

See "put a hole in it."

Nixer

A job done off the books


Not before time

None too soon


Not on

Unacceptable (behavior or result)

Similar to "bang out of order."

Not the full shillin'

A brick short of a full load


[Getting] notions

Thinking "above one's station"

As in office politics...

Not the worst of 'em


Common way to say that somebody or something is alright.

Not up to much

Not worth much

May be said of goods or services — does not imply lack of activity.

Now

Spoken as greeting in a retail transaction


Off licence

Establishment licensed to sell alcohol for take-away

Not usually hyphenated — and not, of course, spelled in the American fashion.

Once

As long as; providing that

"Once you can get there on time, you're grand.*"

Only

Absolutely

"It's only delicious."

Yer only man

Your best option

"Guinness is yer only man."

The other lad

Him

(See "the other one")

The other one

Her. A specific woman, whose identity is presumed known.

See also "your one" and "your man."

Out the gap

gone, out of here

Corkonian

[For] pig-iron

[For] the sake of argument


[You're] on the pig's back.

[You've] got it made.


Pissin' time

The duration that something doesn't last.

Cheap batteries, for example, "don't last pissin' time."

Plonker

Not a compliment.

Just like it sounds.

Press

Cupboard or closet

The "hot press" is the one that contains the water-heating immersion*

Put a hole in it.

Finish your drink.

(Used amongst friends, when it's time to go elsewhere)

Pull the door over

Pull the door shut


Quare

Strange

"It's a quare aul' world"

[The] Quare One

Satan, the Devil


Rabbit on

Talk without concision


Rag order

Bad condition


Rake

Slew

(A large number [of something])

Rat-arsed

Drunken


Relations

Relatives


[You've] right to, e.g.

You should

She had right to = she should have ... etc.

Ring, ringpiece

Anus


Rob

Steal

In American, you would "steal" a car. In Ireland, you'd "rob" it. To rob a car in American is to steal something from inside it.

Rock and roll

Dole

(Rhyming slang)

rock-and-roll Safe as houses

A good bet

This expression acquired an ironic counter-validity after the 2008 collapse of housing prices following more than a decade of hyperbolic increase.

Sambo

Sandwich


Savage (adj.)

Impressive, estimable

See "fierce and savage"

Scoops

Pints

"Going for a few scoops?"

Scratcher

1.) Bed
2.) The dole

1.) "In the scratcher"
2.) "On the scratcher"

Scutters

Diarrhea


Scutterin'


Part of an insult phrase — e.g. "scutterin' gobshite"

(You can) see by (him [or her]) that....

You can see by his demeanor that....


On Shank's mare

"On foot."

Origin stories are dubious

Shift (v.)


1.) Move
2.) Move [something]
3.) "Move" [something] commercially; sell it
4.) Make out; kiss with. "I shifted her in the club."

Shore

Drain

(in gutter, on street, etc.)

Short

Shot

(of liquor)

A shower of _

A large number of _

"A shower of wankers," for example. The expression seems to always apply to people, and is never used in a complimentary way.

Shoutin' and roarin.'


Self-explanatory

Since year dot.

From the beginning.


Sing it.

You got that right.


Skanger

Scumbag

(Also used as a more-specific description of a demographic in which track suits are common — normally ranging in style from white on blue to blue on white.)

[A good] skin

[A] good fellow


Skint

Broke (no money)

From "skinned."

Sláinte

Cheers (over a drink)

Literally, "health," in Gaelic

Slagging (n.)

Verbal abuse


Slapper

Slut

Origin uncertain

Sliced pan

Crappy mass-produced white bread

From the [Anglo-Norman] French pain — "bread."

So

[Tag word,] used at end of a sentence or phrase

No particular semantic meaning. Softens the declarative nature of the sentence. "I'll call over later, so."

Soap for me hole

Hope for my soul


Soft as shite

Gullible, credulous


Sound.


A common affirmation

Go spare

Flip one's lid


It'll stand to ya.

It'll work to your benefit.


A start

A job, at its inception

"Any chance of a start? No? Okay." — Christie Moore

[Getting] Stick

Taking shit, getting hassled

"Getting stick" for being skinny, for example; or fat; or red-headed...

[In the] stooks

Obstinate

"Heels dug in" over an issue.

Ah, stop

Tell me about it; you're talling me...

Droll reaction to an obvious statement

Stop the lights

Oh, my Jesus

From the 1970's quiz show "Quicksilver," in which the phrase was integral to the play of the game.

[What's the] story?

What's up?

A general greeting. Frequently shortened, and often the word "story" is about the only clearly-audible part.

[Good ol'] stretch in the evening

Days are getting longer

Irish weather talk

Stroppy

Argumentative


The Sun does be splittin' the stones.

It's bright and hot.

(Relatively hot.) The Irish tend to speak about the weather casually.

Sure

Tag word, used at fore of sentence

Adds emphasis to a statement assumed obvious

Swiss

Hole

From "Swiss roll," via rhyming slang. "Swiss Roll" is a popular spongecake-and-artificial-cream dessert. Yep....

Tasty

Well-executed, tidy

A job done properly

That _

So _

"The place was that small, you had to step outside to change your mind."

That's the shot.

That's the ticket.


Thick

Argumentative, obstinate

Often pronounced "tick"

This is me

This is my ([stop on the train,] for example)


Through money for a shortcut


An expression of how fast it goes away

[On the] tick

[On a] tab

At the pub, for example

To

Often omitted

"I'll try get some teatowels"

Toe-rag

Scumbag


(On me) tot

On my own

"I don't want to be left down there on me tot."

Touchin' cloth

Burstin' for a shite


Turfed out

Ejected

(From a club, e.g.)

Twig

Grasp, realize

One of only a few words that remain from Gaelic Irish.

Up here for thinkin', down there for dancin'.


Somewhat self-explanatory, though slightly cryptic. It's a way of acknowledging your own cleverness.

Us

Me

"Give us a bell [telephone call.]"

Oh, you're very good.


A statement of appreciation for an act of kindness.

Wagon

Disagreeable woman


Was, were

Would have been

"One more step and you were in traffic"

Waxy

Flukey, lucky

See "jammy"

Wear [something] off [somebody]

Hit somebody with something

"I'll wear it off him"

Went down a bomb

Worked like a charm


Wettin' the baby's head

Drinking to celebrate a christening


What age are ya?

How old are you?


What are we like?


Said in bemusement at our own behavio(u)r

Whatever about _

Never mind _

"I don't even like rain, whatever about snow."

Well?

General greeting

[Southeast — possible origin Waterford. In the southeast, one would often answer their telephone* this way, also.]

It's well for some

It must be nice

An expression of mild begrudgery

Weren'tn't

Weren't


West Brit

Anglophile

Derisive. Often used in reference to the adoption or affectation of British accent in the speech of a native Irish person.

What way

How (it's going to turn out, etc.)

"Let me know what way it goes."

Will

Shall

"Will we go?"

Will [he, she, etc.] wha'?

Yes, of course.

Q. "Will he approve?"   A. "Will 'e wha'?"

Wire

Penis


With _ Years [e.g.]

For

"Been in Ireland with nine years"

Would _

If _ would

"She rang to ask would I call over" = "She called to ask if I'd come over" ...

Would be

Is

"He'd be a stonemason."

Would want

Would need

As in, "I'll beat you good-looking — sure* I'd want a big stick."

Would ya ever...?

Will you...?

[Not impolite.]

Wouldn't go astray

Wouldn't do any harm

(Might be a good idea)

Work away.

Go ahead.


Yank

American

"Septic tank," in rhyming slang

Ye

"You," plural.

Also "youse," apparently more so in Dublin ("Yz," or "yiz.")

Yoke

Thing, thingamabob, whatchyacallit


You can't have it all ways

You can't always get what you want


You know that kind of way.

You know how that is.


You know y'rself


A polite way of showing lack of presumption

You'd want to...

You'd better...

"You'd wanta"

You may...

You'd best...

"You may do some work...."

Young one

Young woman


Your man

That guy

Refering to a person whose identity is presumed known. (See also "the other one.")

Your one

That woman

Youse

You (plural)

Mostly in Dublin. Also "yiz." "Ye," elsewhere.

Yr auld lad and yr aul one

Your dad and your mom


Zonks

Ages

"Haven't seen ya in zonks." May be more common in Dublin.


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* The Irish pound, or punt, was worth €1.27 upon conversion, New Year's Day 2002.

__   ___   __

  ↑ Return to "A few bob" ...


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