A Wee Bit of Irish Slang to Know Before Visiting Ireland

By Briana Seftel

While Ireland has its own language, the British influence left on the country can still be seen and heard everywhere, from tea and scones to the language. So whether you're a fella or a fair lass, here are essential phrases and expressions to know before visiting Ireland!

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Phrases you should know:


Translation: Gone wrong

If something is done the wrong way, it's done arseways (arse is, well, your behind). It can also mean something is not in the correct order or is not working properly.

I tried to put me scone in the toaster but it's all arseways!


Translation: House

While driving through scenic villages, you are likely to happen upon countless charming houses, or gaffs as they call them in Ireland. Having a "free gaff" means you are home alone - can anyone say party?

I'll pop over to your gaff later.


Translation: Awesome

Deadly and savage may sound like negative words, but in Ireland they actually mean something is fantastic! Ireland isn't the only country to use "deadly" as a term of appreciation; Australia uses it too!

Oh man, that show at Hogans was deadly! Were you there when the lead singer nose dived into the crowd?

The jacks

Translation: Toilet, bathroom

If you really want to fit in with the locals, don't ask for the bathroom - ask for the jacks! Some believe the term was derived from the Tudor English term "jakes," first used in the 16th century.

Finish your Guinness before you run to the jacks!

Donkey's years

Translation: A very long time

A donkey's years is a favorite way to say "a very very long time." It's also commonly used when the person doesn't know the amount of years.

We've been close friends for donkey's years.

Cup of Scald/Cha

Translation: Cup of tea

Ireland loves its tea (that'll be Barrys, thank you very much), so it makes sense that there would be several ways to say it. If you really want to impress your Irish friends, order a cup of cha the next time you're at a cafe.

Fancy a cup of cha?


Translation: Someone who pushes their luck

You probably have heard of the luck of the Irish, but don't except to find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. A chancer is known as someone who pushes their luck.

You don't think it's going to rain today? Ha, you're a real chancer!


Translation: any kind of chips

Like the U.K., in Ireland chips are known as crisps (and fries are chips). By far the most popular brand of crisps is Tayto, which is basically the Irish version of Lays.

I'm starving! Got any tayto?

Expressions to master:

Acting the maggot

Translation: behaving in a foolish or annoying manner

This is an expression you won't want an Irish person saying to you. Acting the maggot is acting in a non-serious, foolish, or childish manner. It can also be used to talk about anything that isn't acting properly, like a phone or the telly.

I will yeah!

Translation: I will definitely not

Don't be fooled by this expression. When an Irish person says "I will yeah" it means they will most definitely not be doing whatever you ask them. Expect to hear this expression used frequently in Cork City.

What's the craic?


Craic (pronounced like "crack") is arguably an Irishman's favorite word. Generally speaking, "craic" can mean fun, good times, gossip, drinking...there really is no one definition of the word. A commonly heard expression in Ireland is "what's the craic," meaning "what's happening?" or simply "what's up?"

Bonus: Sláinte!

Translation: cheers

Sláinte is the Irish word for cheers - a very important word if you find yourself sitting next to stranger at a pub. It's pronounced slawn-sha for all you non-Irish speakers. So the next time you're in Ireland, raise a glass and say sláinte!

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