Irish Slang Words

20 of my Favorite Irish Slang Words (that You Need to Know)

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When you find yourself in a new country you will also find yourself a little lost when it comes to their native language. In Ireland they speak English but not in exactly the same way as Americans.

Christmas of 2012 was my first time visiting my in-laws. I was just the girlfriend back then and I felt a lot of internal pressure to not be the ‘dumb American’—I’m not sure I actually succeeded. I remember one night we were out to dinner having “a Chinese” (their way of saying ‘having some Chinese food’), and after we went back to the house I had a good cry in my bedroom. The host had called me an “eejit.” To be fair, I was jet-lagged and homesick but my sensitive spirit got the best of me and I couldn’t believe I had just been called an IDIOT! Luke (husband) came into the room and tried to explain to me that ‘eejit’ was actually an affectionate term and it was more like being called a silly person, not an actual idiot…well that didn’t make me feel too much better but I had definitely learned something new—Don’t be offended when called an ‘eejit’. 

Here are some more slang words you need to know so you don’t have a ‘me moment’ and look like a ‘dumb American’: 

1. Eejit

As explained above it means idiot, but affectionately.

2. Craic

Craic means fun! For example, “That was a bit of craic,” Or “Whats the craic?” It can also be used to ask, “how you are or what’s up.” When said like, “What’s the craic?” It can also mean a story, or the news!  

3. Grand

You’ll hear this one a lot and my Irish Slang WordsIrish family members say it all the time! ”Grand” can mean anything from “that’s amazing”, to “that’s lousy.” It’s all in their tone of voice and context! “It was grand.” 

4. C’mere to me

This one confused me when I was over in Ireland because they don’t want you to actually come over, but usually just want you to listen to something they have to say. 

5. Fair Play

Means “well done!” 

6. Knackered

This Irish word means exhausted. “I’m totally knackered.” 

7. Lashing

When you hear the word lashing it’s used to describe how hard it’s raining. “It’s lashing outside.” You’d better grab your raincoat!

8. Yer man/woman

“Yer Man” just refers to anyone not in your immediate vicinity that you’re trying to describe but don’t know their name. “Yer man over there.” 

9.  Giving out 

“Giving out” is said to describe when someone is complaining or upset about something. “My mum was giving out to me for smoking.” 

10. Manky 

“Manky” is used to say something is gross or dirty. It can be used to describe anything from the weather, to food, or a person. “The dinner was manky.” 

11. Wee

This term can mean small, or not. You just insert the word anywhere in a sentence and you’ll be fine. It’s used as a verbal crutch similar to the word, “like”  “Aww, he’s just a wee one.” “Hand me that wee bagel.”

12. Slag

“Slag” is used to describe when someone is making a joke at someone else’s expense.  “They were slaggin’ me.” 

13. Baltic

If something is “baltic” it’s freezing cold. “It’s absolutely baltic outside!”

14. Dander

“Dander” is a slow, relaxed walk. 

15. Faffin 

To “faf” or be “faffin” is to be messing around, wasting time or probably acting like an eejit. “Stop faffin around.”

16. Wind your neck in

This is a good one! “Wind your neck in” is used to say “calm down.” 

17. Cuppa 

“Cuppa” refers to a cup of tea. If you are ever asked “Would you like a cuppa?” – make sure you always accept. It can actually be rude to decline. I tried that a few times at my granny’s house and she didn’t take no for an answer. 

18. Pants 

“Pants” is actually your underwear! When describing your pants you need to use the word “trousers.” I’ve made that embarrassing mistake quite a few times. 

19. Poke 

Delicious soft serve ice cream with a Poke chocolate bar inside. “Lets go round for a poke.” The answer to that is “yes! Always yes!” 

20. The Boot 

The boot is the trunk of your car! “Throw everything in the boot.” 


Now lets see if you can translate this sentence: 

Fair play but c’mere to me, when yer’ man is an eejit and asks to go for a wee dander to grab a manky poke and a cuppa, wind yer neck in, don’t wet your pants or start slaggin’ and just stop faffin’- pop out for dander even if its lashing, it will be a grand bit of craic even if its baltic, I don’t care if your knackered just have a wee go at it. 

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Wanda Murray
Wanda Murray
11 months ago

To be fair, you’ve come on a brave bit and you’re not eejit you used to be Rachel. You’ve taken a brave bit of diggin’ from us all and have always come out smiling. Good on ye, ye girl ye ?

Karen Donnan
Karen Donnan
11 months ago

Bout ye Rachel? Well there’s a lot worse things to be called than eejit or even a buck eejit ? don’t be getting up to high doh over it. When you get here you’ll have to get a quare yolk, make sure it’s not banjaxed. If someone says something bout your bake, it’s nothing to do with your cake making skills ? ack you’ll be grand when you’re here. I’m sure Luke will keep you right (Luke, don’t wind her up! I know what you’re like ?) Take care ??

Caprice Miller
Caprice Miller
11 months ago

Loved this! So funny. Can?t believe pants is underwear ??

5 months ago

A good laugh Rachel, we’re excited you’re moving over! You probably need to be aware that you’ve married into a Northern Irish family and some of these terms are distinct to them. E.g. “wee” is definitely a northie one and only used to describe pee in the south! Also, my husband Jamie and I have lived in Ireland our whole lives and never heard of a “poke” ice-cream. It brings up all sorts of other imagined connotations!! 🙂

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