Irish Slang Terms You Need To Know

The Commitments
The Commitments | Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Kate Phelan

Though Ireland became a predominantly English speaking country around the turn of the 19th century, the version of the English language spoken there has more than a few variations from the original. Whether you’re visiting for a first time or just trying to watch an Irish film without needing subtitles, here are some Irish slang terms you’ll need at your disposal.

Did you know you can now travel with Culture Trip? Book now and join one of our premium small-group tours to discover the world like never before.

Craic

The word craic is used to refer to two things in Ireland: fun and news. It’s so widely associated with the country that many don’t realise the term didn’t actually originate there – instead it comes from the Middle English crak, meaning loud conversation. ‘What’s the craic?’ – meaning ‘What’s new?’ – can be used by way of greeting in Ireland, and an entertaining person or event is said to be ‘good craic’. (The word ‘gas’ is sometimes used in a similar way, to mean funny or entertaining.) If a night out was particularly good, people in certain areas might say that ‘The craic was 90’ – thought to refer to miles per hour.
Example: ‘I went to that party last night, it was good craic.’

Grand

Gaff

Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Northern Ireland, UK

In Ireland, the word ‘gaff’ means ‘house’. The term ‘free gaff’ is often used by teenagers to describe the situation when their parents go away for a night, usually meaning there will be a party. Using ‘gaff’ to mean house is apparently also common in Scotland, parts of England and Wales.
Example: ‘I left my favourite jacket over at Aoife’s gaff yesterday.’

Take The Piss

‘Taking the piss’ isn’t unique to Ireland – it’s a Commonwealth term also frequently used in the UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. But for those who haven’t heard it before, to ‘take the piss’ out of someone means either to mock or mimic someone, to joke with them or subject them to ridicule. It can also mean to take liberties at others’ expense or be unreasonable, as in the example below.
Example: ‘We’ve been waiting an hour for this person, they’re taking the piss.’

Deadly

Tramore, Ireland

In the same way that ‘grand’ means something different from its traditional meaning in Ireland, ‘deadly’ does too. It might seem odd to use a word whose literal translation means ‘causing or able to cause death’ to describe something in a positive way, but the Irish use the word ‘deadly’ to signify that something is excellent. They aren’t the only ones to do this – apparently Australians use ‘deadly’ as a compliment as well.
Example: ‘That place we went for dinner last week was deadly.’

Yoke

In Irish slang, the word ‘yoke’ doesn’t have anything to do with eggs. Instead, it’s another way of saying ‘thing’. So if someone in Ireland sees an object that they’ve never seen before, they will commonly be heard to ask, ‘What’s that yoke there?’
Example: ‘Can you pass me that yoke you use to wipe the windscreen?’

The Jacks

Among Irish slang words, the word ‘the jacks’ means ‘toilet’, most commonly used to refer to public bathrooms. Every Irish person knowns what this term means, but few know why they use it – indeed it’s difficult to find a solid explanation. Some believe it to be derived from the Tudor English term ‘jakes’, first used in the 16th century.
Example: ‘I’ll be back in a minute, I’m going to find the jacks’.

Locked

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the drunken Irish stereotype, there are several different words in Irish slang that all mean drunk. Locked is just one such term – others include mouldy, ossified, polluted, twisted and langers.
Example: ‘He’s not feeling the best today, he was locked last night.’

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article