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Not only do us Irish have our own language, Gaelic (though most of us that are actually from Ireland just call it Irish and can barely speak it), but our version of the English language is also like a whole different language itself. There are Irish phrases which we use every day that most English speakers from any other country will never have heard of in their life.

I realised the full extent of the things we say that make little or no sense to the people outside of Ireland after I came back from travelling. After days of consulting my friends, family and Cornish boyfriend, here’s the list I came up with. I couldn’t include everything, but I threw in the main players and hopefully quite a few you’ve never seen before. So here it is, the only guide you’ll need to understanding us charming Irish and our Irish phrases.

irish phrases where is tara travel blog tara povey

A Quirky Guide to Irish Phrases

General Irish Phrases discount code where is tara

irish phrases where is tara travel blog tara povey

-Yer man : That man over there….. or pretty much any man that we are referring to for the purpose of a story. For example, “Yer man behind the counter said to me….”. We do not mean that the man BELONGS to you. He is not YOUR man. He’s simply yer man over there.

-Yer one : The female equivalent of yer man. (often pronounced yer wan)

-Yoke: Thingy. For example, “Where’s that yoke gone?” simply means “Where has that random thing gone that I was looking for?”. Yoke can also refer to a person that you are horrified by. eg. “some f*in yoke sat beside me on the bus”.

-Scarlet for ya : How embarrassing for you. The long version is “scarlet for your ma for having ya”. That basically means that you did something EXTREMELY embarrassing and should probably be disowned.

-Grand: This is our most used response to any question. Contrary to popular belief this does not mean “great” or anything nearly as enthusiastic. Grand generally means “OK” or “fine”. Example, “Tara, I’m going to the shop”, and I would reply “grand”.

– I gave out to him: This is not sexual! This simply means “I told him off”, or “I scolded him”. Many a time I have used this phrase only to be met with confused faces asking me what exactly I gave the person.

-Fierce: Mainly used by country folk. Basically means VERY. Example, “It’s fierce windy out.”

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Irish Phrases where is tara povey

For the Day That’s in it :  Considering the type of day that it is. Example, on a sunny day down by the canal, “Will we grab a bag of cans? Ah sure, we have to, for the day that’s in it!”.

-Bleedin: Used descriptively but not literally. Can basically be shoved into a sentence anywhere. Example. “where’s me bleedin phone?” or “That film was bleedin deadly”. Kind of used in place of an expletive.

-All over the shop: A state or a mess. Used descriptively. For example, “Me hair is all over the shop.”.

-He’s gone for his tea: Often used when watching a film and a character dies. Someone will usually exclaim, “Well, he’s gone for his tea”.

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– He scared the bejaysus/bejesus out of me: Bejaysus basically means shit/hell/f*ck here. He scared the shit out of me.

– Sickner for ya: This pretty much means, “That sucks” or “How unfortunate for you”. For example, a friend might say “I was smoking down the lanes and then me ma caught me” and one could respond “Awww sickner”.

– Culchie: A person from the country……. or basically anyone that comes from anywhere other than Dublin.

-Jackeen: What culchies call people from Dublin

Irish Slang for Food and Drink

irish phrases where is tara travel blog tara povey

-Rasher: Bacon and not the shite streaky kind they have in America. REAL bacon.

Spicebag: A mystical bag of chips and crispy chicken/chicken balls with a mysterious blend of spices all wrapped up in a paper or foil bag. Very popular after a night out. Apparently invented in the chinese up the road from me, CLAIM TO FAME!

-Sliced Pan: Loaf of bread that has been sliced.

-Chipper: The fish & chip shop….. where they also sell spicebags.

-The messages: Groceries or food shopping. For example, “I’m going to Tesco for the messages.”

-The press: The cupboard, usually where you store the messages.

-Naggin: 200ml of some kind of spirit, often stashed in bras or bags on the way into nightclubs/festivals.

-Minerals: Soft/fizzy drinks. They don’t actually contain any literal minerals. They are in no way healthy.

-Dilutable: What other countries call “squash”. Basically stuff like Ribena that you put into water to make it taste like something else.

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Insulting Irish Phrases

irish phrases where is tara travel blog tara povey

-Geebag: Translated literally it means a bag of vaginas, but we usually mean is as an insult, though I can’t see why?! For example, She’s a f*in Geebag. Try it, it sounds hilarious.

-Gobshite: Gob means mouth… and well, you know what shite means. This is often used affectionately when referring to simple yet harmless friends and family. It can also be used in an unaffectionate way…..

-Poxy: Something or someone that is bad or terrible. Used as an adjective….kind of. Example “You’re a poxy bleedin liar”, or “That poxy yoke over there”.

-The f*kin head on him: Look at him, he looks wrecked. Can also be said as “The bleedin state of him” or “The hack of him”.

-Eejit: Often used affectionately, much like gobshite. If you drop something your mother may say something along the lines of “You’re an awful eejit”.

-Shitehawk: One I heard in my childhood a lot. If my sister and I were acting up we were “little shitehawks”. I feel like a lot of insults can be used affectionately in Ireland.

– She’s a f*in weapon/wagon: She’s a mad bitch, pretty much.

– She’s pure haunty: This is a Limerick phrase meaning she’s an unfortunate looking girl wearing a lot of make-up to try and cover it up. Harsh, but effective.

**Want to explore more?! Why not take the ferry from Ireland to the UK?! Check out the sailing options HERE**

Irish Phrases for a Night Out

irish phrases where is tara travel blog tara povey

-Did you get the shift?: Did you kiss anyone?

-Did you get the ride?: Did you have sexual intercourse with anyone?

– I was absolutely locked/hammered/smashed/legless/paralytic: I was extremely drunk.

– I’m going on the lash: I’m going out to get f*in hammered/locked etc.

– Gee-Eyed: Literally it should mean vagina-eyed…… but, in fact, it means DRUNK. One might say “I was absolutely gee-eyed last night”.

– I’m knackered: I’m extremely tired.

– Are ya goin for a fag?: This isn’t quite as politically incorrect as it sounds. A fag is a cigarette. So this means, are you going outside for a smoke/cigarette?

Irish Phrases where is tara povey

– Me Mot/Motzer: My girlfriend. You can also refer to a group of females as “mots”. For example, “This places is full of mots”.

– F*kin TUNE!: Great song! Love this song! Usually exclaimed before legging it to the dance floor.

-You’re the image of massive: You look great! Can also be said as “You’re massive”, which, counter-intuitively enough, is actually a compliment.

-Gaff party: Gaff means HOUSE. So this means a house party.

-Giving it socks: Really going for it. Putting a lot of energy into something. For example, “Yer man was giving it socks on the dancefloor last night”.

-The Jacks: The toilet. For example, “I’m going to the Jacks”. Can also be referred to as “The bog”.

-The Drinklink: ATM or hole in the wall to withdraw cash from which shall be used to purchase alcohol.

** Need a guide book for your trip to Ireland? I highly recommend the Marco Polo Guide to Ireland – they’re my favourite guide books with great local tips**

Irish Questions and Responses

irish phrases where is tara travel blog tara povey

-Story horse/bud?: Basically….. how are you my friend. A shortened version of “What’s the story?”. Horse refers to a friend….. not an actual horse.

-What’s the craic?: same as above. How are you? Any news?

– Ah sure ya know yourself: Basically this just means….. fine. Same old same old. Considered a valid answer to a question.

-I will in me hoop /hole / arse: I will not. If you are asked to do something you do not want to do, or which seems unreasonable, this is an appropriate response.

-I will yeah: This also means “no”. We like to keep people on their toes.

-I’ll do it now in a minute: Not quite now….. not quite in a minute….. It really means I’ll do it whenever I’m bothered.

– Me arse!: Similar to “as if” or “yeah right”. Often used as an exclamation when you believe something to be untrue. For example if Johno said he got the ride off 4 girls in one night his friends may exclaim “me arse you did!” or just simply “me arse”. Because Johno is a bleedin liar.

-Thanks a million: Basically just “Thanks” in a nicer way. People in England find this hilarious.

-Stall it to the chipper with me: Let’s go to the chip shop.

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Irish Phrases where is tara povey

So there ya have it, all you need to know to survive in Ireland. Well….. maybe not quite, but surely an enlightening list for some of you. No doubt I’ve missed PLENTY of Irish phrases that no one else understands. Sooooo if you can think of any other uniquely Irish phrases or words do leave a comment and let me know. I’ll update the list with any decent suggestions.

If you’re not happy with anything in this article, well, you’re probably just a bleedin geebag anyways πŸ˜‰ Not really though, thanks for reading, you’re only massive!

* EDIT *

So a lot of you asked me to make an Irish Phrases video!

HERE IT IS. Turn it into a drinking game. Have a shot every time I say “like”, you’ll be hammered.

Other Irish Posts

Things Irish People Are Sick of Hearing

A Weekend in Dublin

Visiting the Jameson Distillery in Dublin

4* Review – Tinakilly House Wicklow

A Day Trip to Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge & Giant’s Causeway

A Day With Paddywagon Tours

Visiting Ireland?

Make sure you check out! I use them all the time around the world and they have ridiculous discount deals that change daily. I’ve saved over 50% on some hotels with them! If you want something a bit cheaper and more local, but NOT a hostel, then make sure to check out AirBnB. I use them all the time. I love them. There’s usually food included too which is amazing. 

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73 Responses

  1. elaine massey

    I love this article. I wrote on your Pinterest photo that led me here that a lot of my family hails from Ireland. I can’t wait to visit. This list is incredible! Your blog is great too. I am going to follow you on the social media. I am on the Pinterest for travel bloggers group.

    • Tara

      Awwww I love this comment. So glad you enjoyed it!
      I just saw you follow me on Twitter πŸ™‚ I’m going to follow you right back now!

  2. Hugo

    Ahah. This is great! Really made me laugh. Listening to it with proper accent should be even more fun πŸ™‚

    Truth is, I’ve only heard a few. At least that I remember and maybe use a couple every now and then.

    • Tara

      Maybe I’ll make a Youtube video about it!! Thanks for the idea Hugo πŸ™‚

  3. sabrina

    Oh, I wish I had found your post when I was writing my second last novel and an Irish man was supposed to talk to himself! I’ll favorite this page by the way because I can still be very useful and I’ll keep on browsing your blog! Thank you Tara.

    • Tara

      Aww well hopefully it can be useful in the future and thanks for reading πŸ™‚

  4. Jackie

    Hysterical! It’s so funny how these phrases have become a cultural norm, but so different for others who speak the “same” language. Scarlet for ya is my favorite. Such drama! Working at a French/English bilingual school, I’m constantly amazed how many things just don’t translate.

  5. Carol Colborn

    This blog is not poxy, not just grand but fierce and bleedin massive!

  6. Erica

    Lol this is very interesting!! My husband was playing his game while I read some of these out loud so I gave out to him! Did I use that phrase right?!

    • Emily

      I was going to say. I’m English and we say quite a lot of these things. Although, if we’re being fair, it’s hard to recall if these are things my family say or just some people in England say. I haven’t stopped to think who and when we say these things. It could be just that my Grandad (Dad’s Dad) was Irish and his Mum’s Dad was Irish and his Mum’s Grandmother was Irish. Go back a each generation of English on my Dad’s family and we seem to have one English person and one Irish immigrant and the English person wasn’t entirely English.

      It highlights for me just how many Irish immigrants we’ve had coming to England for a lot of generations. I suppose the ferry passage has always been a lot cheaper than transatlantic fares.

  7. Emma Hart | Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles

    Haha Tara, I LOVE this post! When I lived in Sydney I stayed in a house with 3 Irish girls and this brought back so many memories. ” Did ya get the shift?” was a very common question after a night out and calling a cupboard the press completely baffled me, it still does! Yer-man always confused me too, id just be like ” He’s not my man, who is this man you speak of?!” ?

    • Chris Flanagan

      ‘Yer’ or ‘yor’ makes more sense when you realise that it’s not a really* a shortening or accented version of ‘your’ but rather a variation of the old English word ‘yon’ like in ‘yonder’ meaning ‘that one over there’.

      *at least not in the sense of the origin of ‘yor man/one’ obviously if someone says “give me a go of yer bike” and they probably mean ‘your bike’ but … Anyway, we’re not really just randomly shoving in ‘your’.

  8. Rosemary

    Ha…ha..ha…Much fun. Learning the local slang or lingo is always interesting. Makes you feel like a real insider. Love “what’s the craic”. Thanks for sharing this list!

  9. Jempi

    This is so much fun to read! I Gee-eyed…OMG πŸ™‚ I have to share this post on my Facebook page, can’t stop laughing about some of the phrases. To be honest, now I finally understand what some of the Irish people were telling me last year during new years eve in Dublin πŸ˜‰ This post rocks big time! Cheers and my best wishes for 2016, Jempi.

  10. Brianna

    These Irish phrases are awesome! I’m going to start using a few of these immediately.

  11. Nicole

    Haha I love this! I’m Scottish and there are so many phrases I just thought were universal when I first moved abroad… Now I realise that a fair chunk of my vocabulary makes no sense to other English speakers!

  12. antonette

    Haha – the messages. I would never have guessed it would mean groceries… I’d probably have thought it would be to pick up mail or something

  13. Gary

    Well that would definitely explain why I had such a hard time understanding the locals in the Bars in Ireland…

    There are some that moved over to Canadas east coast with the Immigrants, but most were definitely new to me LOL

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  17. Max Power

    Here’s a few more for the collection:

    -Flute / muppet / langer / tool: a slightly more derogatory version of “eejit”

    -Sound: see “grand”

    -Happy days!: That’s great!

    -Away with the fairies: not alright in the head

    -3 sheets (to the wind): to be extremely inebriated

    -scobe: a delinquent person, a chav

  18. Brian O'Connor

    What about:
    1. Stop acting the maggot!
    2. Are you taking the piss?
    3. Did you get the leg over?
    4. Did you lob the gob?
    5. Get up out of that/Go away out of that.

    Irish sayings are the best!

  19. JC

    Please make a you tube of this, the accent would be perfect! I’m from the US and heard a number of these used, which might just be because of my Irish grandmother and not the norm.

    • Tara

      Right, I think I might have to do this. I’ll do the whole list and the suggestions in the comments. I don’t even have the most intense Irish accent, BUT I’ll do my best. Keep an eye on the blog for the video! πŸ˜‰

  20. Lee Watson

    This was great Tara,
    Hearing the words, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid, but seeing them written down, they come across as bit bizarre.
    Another one, mainly from School days, would be telling a mate to “keep sketch” i.e. cover me whilst I get up to no good.
    Just using the word “sketch” on its own, means leg-it, we are about to get caught.

  21. Toby

    Sallow – not an insult like I most other English speaking countries.

    Plug out – to un-plug something

    Yokt or chat – yoke. Eg where’s that wee chat gone.

    Good man / fair dues/ fair play / awesome sauce – Thank you that was quite splendid, your a top fellow.

    G’wan sure – go on you good thing

    You good thing – similar to good man but may also be used in a more romantic sense.

  22. Toby

    To mitch – to skive, play hookey, secretly not attend school at a time when one should

    Sallow – not an insult like I most other English speaking countries.

    Plug out – to un-plug something

    Yokt or chat – yoke. Eg where’s that wee chat gone.

    Good man / fair dues/ fair play / awesome sauce – Thank you that was quite splendid, your a top fellow.

    G’wan sure – go on you good thing

    You good thing – similar to good man but may also be used in a more romantic sense.

  23. Rory

    I’ve lived most of my life in various parts of Ireland, and about 4 years outside Ireland. Just read this and watched the video; I was quite surprised that some of these were “Irish-isms”, particularly “to give out”, and “chipper”.

    “Bleedin” and “Gaff” are definitely “Jackeen” words.

    I would think “Flute”, as being a little bit like “Dick”, in the sense that they both are slang for both penis and someone you have little respect for.

    • Tara

      Seriously, to give out to just does not translate in Canada, England or Oz/ NZ. They’re all like…….” But what did you give him?!”. Hah.

  24. Jane

    I’ve not read every single comment, so someone may have already asked this, but what about “for the day that’s in it”, I’ve read a definition of that phrase but still don’t REALLY understand it!

    • Roisin O'D

      I think it’s like “for the occasion” or more like thinking of the context of what’s happening that day…

      Tara, fair play to ya! It’s so difficult to sit down and consider what these phrases really mean. I found it so difficult when I moved to London. I assumed we were all speaking the same language – so wrong! “Giving out” definitely got me the weirdest looks. Moved to Switzerland, same issue. Still trying to translate what I say into plain English but sure I’ve just given up at this stage! I love going home and relaxing back into it though.

      I have passed this on to my non-Irish friends and they love it. It’s like a little RΓ³isΓ­n dictionary!

      • Tara

        ROISIN! Thank you so much for your comment! I’m exactly the same, “giving out to” was where I really noticed that there were fundamental differences. It genuinely took me a while to figure out what anyone would say instead of “giving out to” hahah. So glad you liked it and thanks so much for sharing πŸ™‚

  25. Silvia

    I absolutely adore this. I learnt to speak English in Ireland, so I always thought all of these were completely normal… until I moved to the States! If only I had had access to an article like this while living there… Must pass it on to my American friends now!

    Thanks a million (:P) for writing it!


  26. Nigel Scholey

    It’s like having an Irish/English dictionary for my next visit to The Emerald Isle. Keep up the good work x

  27. Colleen Deas

    Loved this Tara i live in Ireland but travel to UK a bit and never got why they would be looking at me like I was mad. I’d be telling them about an oul one or oul fella and they’d be looking at me like I had 10 heads. Also remember being in US and hubby and I were knackered after our flight And looking worse for wear and in front of a few southern ladies I said “oh my god state of you Ye look like a boiled shite !!! (very pale, white,) The looks I got think a few actually swooned Another one that didn’t go down well was shite on a swing swong (all over the gaff -house,place) . Another thing that seems to confuse a lot of non Irish is the lack of pronunciation of th tink tis may be mostly Dublin dialect but Mudder, Fadder, Brudder, tirty tree can really confuse people.
    Loved it all tanks for making me smile don’t tink we appreciate how unique our version of de English language is ?

  28. Nadine Mildenberger

    luv the collection ….I’ve lived over 20 yrs in Germany so am well aware of phrases I used to think were english and they aren’t…..maybe they are above but here’s a few more

    – feck – feckin
    – like (lyke) – anywhere in a sentence
    – soft rain
    – cailΓ­n
    – a battleaxe
    – “…..just after….” apparently not normal english like……”I’m just after havin a pint…”

  29. Malavika

    For an indian/canadian living in Ireland for school, this has been super fun to read and informative too! Shared on my facebook. Thank you.

  30. Kathryn Kelly

    Here’ s a phrase I’ve confused some tourists with, only after they asked for some local lingo.. Sound as a rowler!! Has to be said in broad midlands accent. It means very decent person with “rowler” coming from the farm machine ie roller. Loved your blog gave me such a giggle!!

  31. Rebecca

    I thought it was funny every time someone said ‘Thanks a million!’ to me while in Ireland. And I started using ‘grand’ after a while.

  32. Henrietta

    I love the f*ckin’ geebags! I have Scottish friends too so I have heard similar things. I absolutely love the slang from you both! I will be using geebags! My pals say bawbags but not sure if its the same.

  33. Raychel farrelly

    I’m Irish and I was so surprised that some of these weren’t used everywhere eg. Giving out like I use that all the time so I I’m well amazed now after reading the comments as well ?

  34. Catherine Dalton

    Tara, I can hear me Ma in my head! She was born and raised, Catherine Creed, in Bagnelstown, Co. Carlow. Thank you!!!
    To add, “feck”. She used it in place of the more American “f*#k.
    And, “Oh, that’s a different thing, altogether!”
    Looking forward to followimg you!

  35. Nichole Greenwood

    I am just bleedin DYIN over here, laughin me arse off! I just LOVE your blog- so much that I subscribed! Thanks for a great start to my weekend! πŸ™‚

  36. Cat Tooth

    ‘Thanks a million’ often gets shortened to ‘Thanks a mil’

    So, thanks a mil for these Irish phrases πŸ™‚

  37. Krissy

    My boyfriend took me home for Christmas last year so I got to hear ALL of these. But only until now did I understand what grand meant. I thought it meant amazing and it kinda reminded me of the 1000 grand chocolate bar.
    As for gee. I have a “ghee” for karate (karate uniform) when I asked my BF if he wanted to see my ghee he had a total laugh at me. Took him 20 minutes to recover to speak reagain…. Once you go Irish you never go back ?

  38. Cripple1

    Just been wondering what “your a beg” means. Was teasing an Irish girl about a crush she had on me and that’s how she replied.

  39. olguin laconte

    this is great! i have an irish buddy that once he starts drinking (which is not at all irregular) starts throwing out these irish slurs that no one understands.

  40. Janie Sheehan

    Both sets of grandparents were Irish & one Grandma used to call Grandpa a blithering eejit.

  41. dorene

    my g-grandmother was Irish and lets just say a few of us (me, my dad) have her blood in her veins. I’m in the u.s.a but heard a few of these growing up. dad used to sing me an Irish lullaby that i sing to my daughter now. thanks for a laugh and a trip down memory lane.

  42. Emily

    Absolutely loved this! The phrase that springs to mind any time I’m away is ‘Sound’ – still struggle in explaining to people what it means!

  43. Ed Barrett

    Very entertaining!

    We use several of those phrases in Liverpool, with the same meaning – namely:

    All over the shop;
    Hammered / smashed / legless / paralytic (but not ‘locked’);
    We’d go ‘OUT on the lash’;
    We might say ‘fag’ for cigarette, but ‘bifter’ might be more Scouse;
    We wouldn’t say ‘gaff party’, but we might ask ‘You coming back to my gaff?’;
    We might say ‘me arse’, but I’m not sure if this comes directly from Ireland, or more from The Royle Family;
    If we say ‘Thanks a million’, it’s likely to be sarcastic.

    Like many people in Liverpool, I don’t have to go that far back to find Irish ancestry.

  44. Calvin R Williams

    My Grandmother used a lot of this and I never knew what the heck she was saying. Now I have the education!
    Thanks Tara

  45. Myron

    Wow. A lot of these words and phrases are common in Eastern Colorado where much of my family homesteaded. I also found two summers ago, while visiting the Highlands, that I understood many of the phrases they thought they would need to explain. Who would have thunk?

    Thanks for the good read.


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