Irish English
Tourists arriving in Ireland, especially for the first time, are going to get a healthy dose of the Irish English language. The Irish do speak English but you could listen to someone speak for an hour and not understand a word of it. It takes some getting used to, especially for Americans. American English is even quite different from British English, so Irish English can really throw you off. If you should happen to meet someone with a thick Irish brogue, feel free to nod and smile, because that is the most difficult Irish English to understand.

Here is a brief lesson in understanding some of their vocabulary and some Irish slang.

Rashers = bacon
Bangers = sausages
Cuppa = cup of tea
Kebab = sausage sandwich similar to a hot dog
Chips = french fries
Crisps = potato chips
Tomato Sauce = ketchup
Lolly = ice cream cone
Sucker = lollypop
Sweets = candy
Tart = pie
Cakes or Fairy Cakes = individual size cupcakes
Prawns = shrimp
Brecki = breakfast
Pint = pint of Guinness
Pint of another choice = you must say the name of your choice
Slainte = toast to your good health


Hi ye, How's it goin', How are ye, How's she cuttin' = hello


Kilometers = miles (they also say miles but I still don't know if they mean miles or kilometers)
Roundabout = traffic circle
Country Lane = back road
Petrol = gasoline (which they sell by the liter and it's more expensive there).

Having Fun

Crack = fun
Great Crack = tremendously enjoyable
Gas = hilarious
Gas Man = a sarcastic comment to someone who said or did something incredibly stupid
Actin' the Maggot or Messin' = someone picking on another to get a laugh
Slaggin' = two evenly matched opponents good naturedly chiding each other
Havin' the Life of Reilly = the only person having a great time
Disco = still used for a dance hall (previously used was Pally)
Jive = fast dance like rock'n roll

Describing People

Fellas = males
Wans = females
Mot or Aul' Doll = girlfriend
A Fine Half = a good-looking person of the opposite sex
Culchie or Muck Savage = term of endearment from townspeople to country folk
Jackeens = Dubliners
Lawdy Daw or Hoity Toity = someone with a posh ego
De Aul' Fella = an affectionate name for a father from his children
Eejits or Gobshites = idiots

Let's Talk (Irish people are known to talk a lot.)

To Blather or Rabbit = someone who talks on and on at length
To Talk Ninety = someone who talks so fast you can't understand them
Talkin' Shite = someone who doesn't have a clue what he's talking about (the word Blarney is not in common usage)
Brilliant = something that is wonderful
Lovely = something very nice

Other Miscellaneous Phrases

Aye = yes
Washing up liquid = Dish detergent
To hoover = To vacuum the carpet
Wayward children are never naughty = they are bold
To be banjaxed or knackered = To be tired or broken down
To put it on the long finger = To procrastinate or delay something
A kip = A substandard dwelling
If someone is annoying you they are blaggarding
whisht!! = Shhhhh or Shush!!
A scratcher = a bed
The jacks = a toilet
A fag = a cigarette
To emphasize something the word fierce is often used.
Quare or Awful = can also be used to denote emphasis
To do it fairly lively = To accomplish something quickly
Car Park = parking lot
Shops = stores and boutiques
Shenanigans = intrigue, trickery or hidden maneuvers designed to effect a certain outcome.

Words and phrases that should never be uttered in Ireland

'Typically Irish'; 'Bedad and Begorrah'; 'Top o' the Mornin'; 'Me Darlin'; and calling a woman a 'fine colleen' is likely to get you a kick in the shins. The Irish don't name their female babies either Shannon or Colleen, which is an American custom. Shannon is the name of a river and colleen means girl.

Irish Blessings
There are dozens of Irish blessings, but you will lucky to hear them just once. Of course, the most famous one is:

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Irish Blessing - Herbal Gift Set

A Word of Warning:
If you think that you are now fully armed with some of the correct expressions and phrases, please be aware that these are only a tiny sample of Irish English words and slang. The Irish English language also has a wide variety of every Anglo-Saxon swearword ever uttered, but you won't find them here.

Irish slang books from
Irish Slang (Paperback) by Diarmaid O'Muirithe
The Feckin' Book of Irish Slang by Colin Murphy

Irish Coffee & Tea
Irish Chocolate

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