A Beginner’s Guide to Irish Lingo

Though English is the most commonly spoken language in Ireland, it can even feel foreign to native English speakers sometimes. The combination of the Irish culture and language has played a huge role in influencing the way we speak it everyday.  So, in order to prepare yourself to be immersed in Irish culture, we here at My Holiday Ireland have composed a list of the most common and confusing terms for incoming visitors. They may seem strange on paper but once you arrive in Ireland you’ll see how commonly used they are and how easily you can join in too! Let’s see if you can translate the following Irish lingo filled conversation from the words and phrases given below:



  • What’s the craic? – ‘Craic’ is the Irish for fun but in this case it means, ‘what’s going on?’ (pronounced ‘crack’). Can be mighty/90 (good) or dry (bad)
  • How’s she cuttin’? – What’s the craic?
  • How’s the form? – How’s everything going? How are you feeling?
  • How goes it? – How’s everything going?
  • Good luck! – Goodbye

Irish Lingo

Words ingrained in Irish Culture

  • Shades – Guards/Cops (Actual name for them is Gardaí, pronounced ‘gar-dee’)
  • Fierce/Quare/Pure – All words for ‘very’ (Use: ’It’s quare windy today!’)
  • Scoops – Pints/alcoholic drinks
  • Tayto’s – It’s technically a brand but a lot of people use it as their main word for ‘crisps’
  • Donkey’s years – A very very long time…
  • Gawk – A look or a stare
  • Gobsmacked – Shocked/surprised :O
  • Chipper – Takeaway that mostly sell fish and chips (fries), burgers, kebabs, etc.
  • Fiver/Tenner – Words used to describe a 5 euro or 10 euro note (Use: ‘Could you lend me a fiver for the chipper, please?’)
  • I will yeah! – Nearly always sarcastic and means ‘I won’t’
  • Runners/tackies – Sneakers, running shoes
  • Jumper – Sweater, hoody
  • Path – Sidewalk, pavement
  • Boot – Trunk of a car
  • Press – Cupboard/wardrobe

Irish Culture    Gardaí having the craic at a concert!

Positive Words and Idioms:

  • Craic – A social kind of fun (Use: ‘He’s great craic’ ‘The craic in this pub is mighty’)
  • Grand – Ok, fine (Use: ‘How are you getting on?’ ‘I’m grand!’)
  • Grand job – Sounds good to me!
  • Deadly – Cool (Mostly used in Dublin)
  • Class/savage – Amazing
  • Gas – Nothing to do with petrol. It’s another way to say ‘funny’ (Use: ‘That’s gas!)
  • Go on! – Please do!
  • Mad – A bit mental or crazy but usually meant in a good way (Use: ‘She’s mad craic’)
  • Taking the piss – Can mean to make fun of or taking something too far




Words you may not want to hear…

  • Cat/rubbish/the pits – Something that’s bad (Use: ‘That food was the pits!’)
  • Knackered/wrecked – Really tired
  • Banjaxed – Broken
  • Ratty/narky – Someone who is being moody or temperamental
  • Eegit – Somewhat of an idiot but not as harsh (Can be pronouncec ‘ee-git’ or ‘ee-jit’ depending on the part of the country)
  • Gombeen/muppet – Other ways to say ‘eegit’
  • Dosser – Someone who doesn’t do a lot of work and is generally quite lazy
  • Dry – The ultimate insult to most Irish people! It means that you’re not good craic :O


Other things to keep in mind…

Irish people really appreciate good manners so saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ will make things run a lot smoother for you.

Irish people love to talk about Ireland and our culture so most people will be happy to answer any questions you may have upon arrival.

No-one actually says ‘top of the morning’ and lucky charms are an American brand that have never been sold in Ireland (sorry if that bursts anyone’s bubble!)

Though Dublin is a beautiful city and we’re proud of our capital, don’t forget to visit all the other gems this amazing island has to offer!

If you don’t understand all the above Irish lingo, DON’T WORRY! You’ll still be completely understood in Ireland. This is just a guide in case you want to try something new.

If this blog has sparked any interest in visiting beautiful Ireland then don’t hesitate to contact us here the My Holiday Ireland team with any questions you may have! No matter what you have in mind, we can make it a reality 🙂

Looking for something a little different? Check out Limerick Travel!