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15 words/phrases native to Ireland explained to internationals

For people who have traveled to Ireland in the past or those who may have just moved to Ireland, you may notice that there seems to be a separate language Irish people speak. We are not talking about our country’s language, Gaeilge; we are talking about the words or phrases you may hear within a conversation with an Irish person which leave you nodding along smiling not really knowing what they mean whatsoever.

Like all countries, native people and certain locations have certain “slang words” they use to get a point across, and we have devised a list to explain as much as we can. Ireland, in particular, has become the home to increasing amounts of people from every other country imaginable. According to the Central Statistics Office, 535,475 foreign nationals from 200 countries have been living in Ireland as of 2018 figures. 

Chart created by Kim Carroll
Figures are drawn from the Central Statistics Office

Although it’s important to welcome these cultures, we can sometimes forget as a nation that we speak in different turns of phrases among each other. 

To be more inclusive to our friends from abroad visiting or living in our enriching country, here are explanations of 15 of the most common words or phrases unique to Irish people.

  1. What’s the craic?

Number one on our list has to be this phrase. Its somewhat of a genuine question and a statement all at once. If you want to know how someone is, what they are doing or if you simply want to acknowledge someone, this phrase has it all in one. Next time you meet someone, say what’s the craic and you might as well have dual citizenship; you’ll be understood straight away

2. Story bud?

A less than sophisticated way of asking how someone is or what someone is doing; very similar in its effect as “Whats the craic?”. “Bud” is a shortened, “Dublinised” version of buddie – meaning friend. 

3. The Sesh

Have you ever heard of some of your Irish friends ask if you’re “coming on the sesh?”. Basically, this means they want you to drink yourself into incoherency, for the sake of the “sesh”. Sesh is a shortened version of “session” referring to a session of drinking heavily.

4. How’s she cuttin’?

Its important to know with this phrase that “she” doesn’t really anyone. “She” is merely “you” and cuttin’ is a translation for “doing”. This phrase basically equates to, “how are you doing?” The former has a little more of a ring to it though

Photo Credit: Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos

5. Acting the Mick.

If you’re up to no good, you’re acting the Mick. Mick again, doesn’t refer to anyone except the trouble your causing which makes someone claim that you’re acting the absolute Mick.

6. Scarlet!

A popular one with the youth of Ireland. If you hear a young one screaming “SCARLEHHHH FOR YA”, this usually means you’ve done something to embarrass yourself. Almost as embarrassing as screaming that at someone..

7. Young one (wan)

Leading on from our last.. A “young one” directly refers to a young female of a certain age. We’re not sure what age this phrase stops being appropriate and transforms into..

8. Aul one/ Aul lad

Similar to young one, an aul one is what you’re called in Ireland once you’ve reached a certain age. As unsophisticated as it may sounds, we’re all going to become “aul” someday. The word “aul” or “aul’d” directly translates to “old”.

9. Bleedin’

No, this term isn’t a cooler way of describing a physical injury which leads to bleeding. Bleedin’ is commonly used as a more sophisticated substitute for other profanities that might be used. It’s important to note however, that this word can be used just as positively as it can be negatively. Example: “That young one is only bleeeedin’ gorgeous”

10. Gobshite/Eejit

Do you want to really give about someone who is really getting on your nerves. Call them one of these and you’ll fit right in with the Irish nation. It’s probably the most effective insult in our arsenal.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.

11. Use of the word “me”

Have you ever wondered why Irish people sometimes use the word me in replacement of the word my? Well us Irish people are wondering that too, so let us know if you find out!

12. The bird/The missus.

Ladies, if you find yourself an Irish man and he introduces you to his friends and family as a flying mammal, drop him like a hot rasher!

13. Rasher.

Speaking of such, rashers are what Irish people call bacon. So if you’re in a restaurant and a waiter asks if you want an extra rasher, they aren’t cursing at you or using some kind of hidden language. We’re simply too sophisticated to say bacon.

14. Yis

This is basically how Irish people refer to more than one person. No, there is no verb category for such a word, it’s simply how we identify we are speaking about 2 or more people. Example: “Yis are some bleedin’ gobshites

15. Feck!

A personal favourite, this is simply a very Irish way of changing a vowel around to lessen the intensity of a profanity. The effect is still there, but people might be less likely to be offended.

Although this list could be the length of me bleedin’ arm, this list should be very good starting point for anybody not native to Ireland, to not feel so lost in conversation with their new Irish pals.

Best of luck young ones!

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