Local Lingo – 12 very Irish sayings to get you settled in Ireland
Knowing a little of the local lingo is a great help when you’re new in a country. These 12 very Irish turns of phrase will ensure “you’ll be grand” in Ireland.
- What’s the craic?
Pronounced “crack”, you’ll soon become familiar with its many variations. Most commonly, a greeting: “What’s the craic?” or “Any craic?” means “What’s the story?” or “Any News?” and about a hundred other variations. You could also say: “So that’s the craic” … basically craic refers to amusement, enjoyment and fun.
One little word with so much emphasis. Usually pronounced in a drawn-out we-he-ll, it’s a common Irish greeting around the Midlands. In Waterford “well” comes into it’s own and covers absolutely everything, from “How are ya?” and “How’s the dog?” to “Oh your mother was sick?” Feel free to reply with a shrug of your shoulders and a “Ah sure.”
A wonderfully expressive way to say something is broken. This word gives you the sense that the something in question is “quite knackered” and unlikely to be easily fixed: “My car is banjaxed.”
- Fair Play
Used in many ways, such as “Fair play to you”, it’s a form of affirmation, usually meaning “well done”.
If it’s okay for Mrs Brown and Father Ted, it’s acceptable everywhere, even in the odd politician’s interview on RTE 1 news. Feck is commonly used as a more polite alternative to the F-bomb and can be substituted in most cases where it’s used. It can also mean throw, for example: “He fecked the keys at me”.
Depending on who’s saying it, culchie can be a term of rural pride as it refers to someone living in the country. Alternatively, when said by a Dub (Dubliner), it’s a term of contempt, meaning something like country bumpkin. Many ‘Dubs’ refer to anybody living outside of Dublin as a culchie, including city dwellers in the likes of Cork and Galway.
Ah, now here’s a word you’ll find yourself using and enjoying. It’s often meant in a good-natured way as a softened version of idiot, “Acting the eejit” or more critically as “He’s a right eejit”.
Ending a phrase with “so” is as common as randomly dropping the word “like” into a sentence, which is another quirk of language in Ireland. Saying goodbye could be “Later so” or “Are we going for a pint, so?” It can mean “then” or some suggest “eh”. Certainly, like and so aren’t grammatically necessary, but they’re like a good head on a pint of the black stuff (see next definition).
- Black stuff
The cornerstone of Irish life, the slang for Guinness gets its inspiration from the dark, coffee-coloured brew with wheat-stout aromas. Delicious! A pint of the black stuff please!
One of the most common sayings in Ireland, “gas” means funny or amusing. “That’s gas” or “He’s a gas man” would be common usages.
Used in just about any context, “grand” can mean yes, great, awesome, ok and everything in between. Play it safe to start with and use “grand” when someone asks “How are ya?” or “How ya?”. You can also say something is grand when you don’t want to give too much away: “Ah, grand”.
Making a haymes of something sounds just that much more emphatic than saying “I made a complete mess”, though it means much the same.
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