Irish phrases and words you need to know!

In order to fit in with your "Paddy" friends, because we all have a few!

So...you have seen "P.S I Love You" and cried throughout, you're following Colin Farrell on twitter and have all his movies in your DVD collection and you love Liam Neeson's role in "Taken"....but in these movies you don't really get to hear what you will hear when you get to the Emerald Isle, I am going to fill you in on a few phrases you will hear regularly in Ireland and can even use yourself to fit in, albeit make sure you are using them in the right context, as there are a bunch of different meanings for the same words and it can be confusing, alas here is your one stop shop for every phrase you might hear.

1 . The first one, and the one that the locals will use most often is "craic" - craic means fun and it can be used in many different ways .... "What's the craic?" and "Any craic?" probably being the most common.. you may also hear "How's the craic?" , "Sure, that's no craic" "any craic with you?" , "....for the craic" ..... For the craic is the reason for Irish people doing pretty much anything that may cause danger or get you into trouble....

2 . Greetings (In general) On arriving you will be faced with many a question which all mean the same thingin a roundabout way "How are you?".... here are some examples, and they can be mixed and matched so be careful!

"How are you gettin' on?" , "How are ya keepin'?" , "How's she cuttin'?" , "How are ya fixed, now?"  , "Well?" (meaning "are you well?" or "are you good?" ,  "What's the story?" (Note, people in Ireland generally don't want a story or for the most part may not really be all too concerned about how you are "keeping" but your answer should vary from "Grand" to "Not so bad, now" .....

3 . Cat - Cat derives from the term catostraphic (I think) meaning bad. So if something is cat, this means it is bad, the weather can be cat, you can be cat-drunk, the food you ate in the bar last night could have been cat, someone's behaviour can also be cat....or alternatively, on watching something you don't approve of, you can always just shake your head while saying...."cat", also the longer you tend to say cat, the more cat it is. Apologies if I am confusing you, my ability to explain things can be absolutely CAAAAAT!

4. People often get confused with this one and chances are that when you ask them for an explanation, it will be lacklustre. "Your man" doesn't necessarily mean that he is a man belonging to you, it means "that guy"..... Sitting in your local in the back end of Roscommon and a stranger walks in, you are likely to hear several people asking "Who's your man?" or if it is a woman it will be something like "Who's your one?" .... might take a while for you to get your head around this but it will come in handy when you visit!

5. "Stop!" .... can be heard more regularly in the west of Ireland but indeed can be heard throughout Ireland, In the west it sounds more like "Schtop!" .... this is a tough one, it is used when someone is telling a story and you want to let it be known just how crazy the story sounds, all the while egging them on to continue their story! It can also be used when you totally 100% agree with someone on a statement they just made. For example, if your friends announces he is hungry and could really go for some food, you say "Schtop!" ... meaning, I know, don't even say another word, let's go!

6. You have probably heard this one before and it can take on so many different meanings that it gets kind of ridiculous. "Bollocks" is the slang term for a man's testicles, but it rarely mean's this... but sometimes does, i.e "We got into a fight last night and Tom kicked your man in the bollocks" but it can also mean that something is broken, i.e It is bolloxed. Or it can mean you are tired, i.e I am absolutely bolloxed. It can also mean that something is very good, i.e yeah that lad playing the fiddle last night in Jones' was the bollocks! .... but for the most part it is used in a negative way. Use it early and often on your trip to Ireland and you will sound just like the locals!

There are so many more but for now, this will suffice in getting you by your first trip to Ireland, use them all often and listen out for locals using them so you can have your answer ready and waiting! It will lead to a more homely stay and more fluid conversations with your brothers in arms in the local pub on any given night of the week!


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  • I think that they only Irish phrases I need to know in Chicago are "Daley" "Burke" and "Madigan."

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    Don't forget "Kildare Street" .... It shares the name with the county I am from!

  • Simply bril! You're a legend!

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    When I was a child and I was talking about something my Dad did not like he would say
    :A would you whist ( meaning be quiet )
    I remember several . The devil makes work for idle hands.,Only a mother would love a face like that :lol You dirty looking idiot.You d have to get up early in the morning to catch that one. Hes so sly he d build a nest in your ear,Looking back some were quite funny.

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    Ed ..... Thanks, you're a legend yourself!

    Elizabeth.... Haha, I am fully aware of all of these. There are so many variations on all of them too. I have heard, he's so sly that he'd peel an orange in his pocket with boxing gloves on! Glad you enjoy

  • I love "a face only a mother could love." I'm also a huge fan of my dad's blended accent, dees, dems, and dose. "Tree tings" are three items that you bring with you somewhere... my grandmother is wonderful for a three (or tree) hour lecture on how Americans have ruined St. Paddy's day. "In Ireland, you go to church and have dinner with the family, you don't race around like an imbecile getting drunk and making a fool..." At least that's what herself always says...

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    yes, Deeees all sound so familiar! To learn Irish-English is quite an adventure! You sound like you've got most of it down!

  • How's she cuttin'?!? LOL I haven't heard that in years - I was beginning to think I had hallucinated that one. A favorite of my mother's, after an unwatered/unfed spell at someone's house - 'they didn't even ask if I had a mouth'. Short bursts utilized in the course of parenting - JeannieMac, Bold Brat, maimed for life, this is the thing, you fool, TONIGHT! and the ever-popular/all purpose JaysusMaryandJosEPH!!!

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    Glad to see you enjoyed Briggieoh. Some more good ones!

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    'Savage craic' is a good one.
    'Deadly' too, meaning 'really good' like, 'that concert was deadly'.
    Memorable phrases I've heard;
    'He's as tough as the devils father.'
    'If he was any more laid-back he'd fall over.'
    lol gotta love how irish string words together. No english speaking country I know of makes use of the language like the irish do.

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    In reply to Rumhann Connmhaigh:

    I have been told this before regarding the stringing together of words. We are a nation full of poets!

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