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Irish slang dictionary

150 Best Irish Slang Words and Phrases

Ah the Irish, such a way with words. Stumble into your favourite Irish pub and you’re bound to be met with a range of words and phrases that are oddly inviting and yet completely unfamiliar all at once. Irish slang words and Irish phrases have a way of cutting through the crap and nailing a great quote or toast no matter the occasion.

From Craic to Slainte, the iconic phrases remain in use today, still just as relevant as when they were first handed down. But what the feck do they mean and how do you use them? Stall the ball, we’ve got a hape of knowledge to impart.

RELATED: Check out our favourite Irish whiskeys to drink right now.

Irish Slang Words

Now, it comes time to up your banter game. If you want to rule the roost this St Paddy’s Day, take a gander at this list of Irish slang words and start pulling together your ultimate toast. Just don’t forget to end it with Slainte.

Here is the ultimate Irish slang dictionary.

  1. Acting the maggot – Acting in a particularly foolish manner
  2. Amadan – Generally refers to a fool or a buffoon
  3. Arseways – To make a complete mess of
  4. Aye – Yes
  5. Banjaxed – Not working or broken
  6. Bate – To be completely exhausted and out of energy
  7. Baytin – Regional pronunciation for the word beating.
  8. Beour – Female
  9. Bogger – Rural person, from out in the bogs
  10. Bóg – Illegal dancing pill or bomb
  11. Bollocks – Testicles
  12. Box – A rather uncouth terminology for the female genitalia
  13. Brock – Something that is bad
  14. Buck – Boy, man, lad
  15. Buckled – Under the influence, to be completely inebriated
  16. Bullin – To be very angry
  17. Bullin – To be randy
  18. Bure – Female
  19. Cat – An effusive way to say that something is awful or terrible
  20. Chancer – A rather dodgy or dubious character
  21. Class – A term used for something that is high-quality or good
  22. Clatter – A slap or a belt
  23. Clem – Something bad
  24. Coddin – Joking
  25. Cop On – An order to grab hold of yourself and not be so stupid
  26. Craic – Fun, banter
  27. Deadly – Fantastic
  28. Donkey’s years – A long period of time
  29. Dose – Something very annoying
  30. Fair play – Congratulations
  31. Feck – A polite way of saying f*ck. Popularised by the hit series Father Ted.
  32. Feek – Gorgeous girl
  33. Feen – Male
  34. Fierce – Very
  35. Flute – A silly or unintelligent person
  36. Gaff – House
  37. Gammy – Absolutely useless or out of working order
  38. Gander – A look
  39. Gas – An absolute laugh
  40. Gatch – The walk of someone
  41. Gawk – Sick
  42. Gimp – Fool or idiot.
  43. Give it a lash – Give something a go
  44. Gobshite – If someone gets on your nerves
  45. Gombeen – Fool
  46. Gom – Fool
  47. Gowl – Annoying stupid person
  48. Grand – Fine, ok, alright
  49. Hames – To ruin or destroy
  50. Hape – Or extremely large amount
  51. Haven’t a Baldy Notion – Having absolutely no idea
  52. Hi – A ending term that can essentially be added to the end of any sentence
  53. Horse – A friend
  54. Jackeen – Person from Dublin
  55. Jacks – The toilet
  56. Jammy – Lucky person
  57. Jesus, Mary and Joseph – If you’re going to use the lord’s name in vain, you may as well get the whole family involved
  58. Juke – A quick look around
  59. Lamp – To hurt someone
  60. Langers – To be inebriated or drunk
  61. Lash – A long drinking session with mates
  62. Lashing – Pouring with rain
  63. Leefs – Short for lethal, this means great. Commonly used by those in North-West Ireland.
  64. Leg it – Run away from
  65. Like – Used at the end of every sentence
  66. Lock – Small amount
  67. Manky – Very soiled, smelly or dirty
  68. Massive – Great, super, a welcomed success
  69. Meet – To french kiss someone
  70. Melter – A person who is a bit of an idiot
  71. Minus craic – Someone who is no fun
  72. Mitch – To bunk off
  73. Mog – Person of low intelligence
  74. Mouldy – To get drunk or something thats disgusting
  75. Muppet – Fool
  76. Ossified – Drunk
  77. Plastered – To be very drunk
  78. Puck – To hit with a closed fist
  79. Pure – Really/very
  80. Puss – Sulky face
  81. Quare – Another meaning for very unusual
  82. Ride – A good looking person
  83. Rotten – Something horrible/ disgusting.
  84. Savage – Very can be good or bad
  85. Scatter – A group (esp of inanimate objects)
  86. Scoops – Alcoholic drink
  87. Score – To kiss someone.
  88. Scratcher – Bed
  89. Scuttered – In a very advanced state of intoxication.
  90. Shades – Garda Siochana (this is the National Police Service of the Republic of Irelance – the term comes from the two shades of blue on the uniform)
  91. Sham – A friend
  92. Shift – French kiss
  93. Skank – Woman of ill repute (derogatory)
  94. Sketch – Used when keeping a lookout for an authority figure, and one is seen coming
  95. Slag – A woman of ill repute (derogatory)
  96. Slagging – Make fun of
  97. Slainte – A traditional toast, similar to cheers. It means ‘health’
  98. Slash – Urinating
  99. Snake – Sneaky person
  100. Sound – Reliable, dependable, a good sort
  101. Spanner – An idiot
  102. Stall – French kiss.
  103. Stall the ball – Hold on a moment
  104. Stocious – To be very drunk. Pronounced: Sto-shess
  105. Sup – Hello
  106. Sure look – It is what it is
  107. Tool – Idiot
  108. Up to 90 – Flat out doing something
  109. Wan – One
  110. Wean – Pronounced ‘Wayne’, this means child
  111. Wee – Small
  112. Well – How are you? Are you going well?
  113. Whist – Keep it down, please be quiet.
  114. Wide – To be made aware of
  115. Wind your neck in – To pull someone who is arrogant up on their behaviour
  116. Wired to the Moon – Absolutely steaming the morning after a big night and three coffee deep
  117. Yes – Affirmation that can also mean hello.
  118. Yoke – Thing. anything or object or person. A broad descriptive term for anything
  119. Yonks –  A long time

Irish Slang Phrases

When it comes time for a toast, there are few cultures that do it better than the Irish:

  1. He who keeps his tongue keeps his friends.
  2. Men are like bagpipes – no sound comes from them until they are full.
  3. A family of Irish birth will argue and fight, but let a shout come from without, and see them all unite.
  4. May your coffee be strong and your Monday be short.
  5. May the Lord keep you in His hand and never close His fist too tight.
  6. In heaven there is no beer; that’s why we drink ours here.
  7. Who gossips with you will gossip of you.
  8. Drink is the curse of the land. It makes you fight with your neighbour. It makes you shoot at your landlord, and it makes you miss him.
  9. May the Good Lord take a liking to you — but not too soon.
  10. Bless your little Irish heart and every other Irish part.
  11. You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was
  12. May you live to be a hundred years, with one extra year to repent.
  13. This isn’t a hangover – it’s the Irish flu.
  14. You must take the small potato with the big potato.
  15. May your troubles be as few and as far apart as my grandmother’s teeth.
  16. May the road rise up to meet you.
  17. Don’t be breaking your shin on a stool that’s not in your way.
  18. You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was
  19. May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.
  20. May the cat eat you, and may the devil eat the cat.
  21. May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.
  22. A kind word never broke anyone’s mouth.
  23. May the roof above you never fall in and those gathered beneath it never fall out.
  24. A little fire that warms is better than a big fire that burns.
  25. You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.
  26. Never scald your lips with another man’s porridge.
  27. There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
  28. What butter and whiskey won’t cure, there is no cure for
  29. Lie down with dogs and you’ll rise with fleas.
Irish slang dictionary

What is Irish Slang?

First and foremost, it’s important to get your bearings right – Always remember there is a big difference between English and Irish slang. Where cockney slang is a form of word construction based around the English language that first appeared in the East End of London back in the 19th century, Irish slang has been around much longer. In fact, many of the common Irish sayings and slang words we use today are derived from the Gaelic language, providing a unique insight into the Ireland of yesteryear.

Nowadays, it is common for Irish slang to be a blend of Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic that has been translated into English, however, many phrases remain nearly identical to their original structure. But be warned, traditional Irish Gaelic isn’t exactly the easiest language to pick up for native English speakers. Here are some tips for getting it right

  • ‘Ch’ is pronounced as in ‘Loch Ness’ not ‘Chalk’
  • Gaelic has only eighteen letters in its alphabet, so no J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y or Z.
  • A consonant + H denotes a completely different sound to the same consonant without an H following it.

General FAQs

What does Slainte mean?

The traditional Irish toast Slàinte Mhaith translates to ‘Good Health’ in Gaelic, however, interesting enough, the term is found in both Irish and Scots Gaelic.

What is the Irish motto?

The Irish motto is ‘Éire go, Deo’, which literally translates to “Ireland is Forever” in English. Nowadays, the shorter version of “Ireland Forever” is used most often.

What does Craic mean in Irish?

One of the most commonly used but often misunderstood Irish slang words, Craic is slang for fun, for example, “The craic was mighty last night”. That being said, “Minus craic” refers to something that was no fun at all.