How to speak ‘Irish’ – A beginners guide to Irish slang


Have you ever heard two Irish people have a conversation and you stand there thinking ‘I’ve never heard of half of these words’. Well, here I am to teach you some Irish slang.

*I recruited the help of ‘the American’ (Clayton) so although some may be used in Britain I think that’s the furthest they’ve travelled*

Well: Another word for hello. ”Well boy/ Well girl”

Wanta: The combination of want and to. ”You don’t wanta do that.”

Grand: Okay. ”Ah, it will be grand.”

Blaa: A Waterford delicacy, a floury bap of sorts. ”I’d love a tayto blaa.”

Slack: To describe a terrible situation. ”That was slack.”

Lack: Girlfriend/ Intimate female acquaintance ”Is she your lack, boy?”

Shellakybookey: A snail/ slug.

Bibe/ Wagon: A female who’s company is undesirable. ”She’s some bibe.”

Codding: Fooling around ”You must be coding me!”

C’mere: The combination of the words ‘come here’. ”C’mere and I tell ya.”

Sound: Cool. Nice. ”He’s a sound fella.”

Banjaxed: Broken. ”The telly is banjaxed” ”Ah no, you’re coding!”

Shift: Intimate kiss. ”Did you shift your wan last night?” (Your wan: That girl)

Manky: High levels of dirt. ”That dog is manky.”

Arseways: Incorrect procedure. ”You’re doing it all arseways.”

Eejit: Silly person. ”Your some feckin’ eejit.”

Press/ Hot press: Cupboard/ Airing cupboard. ”Get the plates from the press.”/ ”Don’t forget to turn off the immersion in the hot press.” (emmersion: where you turn off the hot water tank – just tell an irish person you left your immersion on and watch the fear in their eyes.)

Locker: Beside cabinet. ”That lamp would look lovely on my locker.”

Knackered: Tired. ”I’m knackered after going out for the messages.” (Messages: Errands/ Groceries.)

”I will, yeah.”: There’s no hope I am doing that. ”Will you buy me a new car?” ”I will, yeah.”

”You won’t, will ya?”: Answering your question before you ask it. ”You wouldn’t really do that, would ya?” ”You’re not having more sweets, are ya?”

Some: A wexford word for very. ”It’s some warm out there”. They also use quare meaning the same thing. ”It’s quare warm.”

Haimes: To mess something up. ”You made a right haimes of that, didn’t ya?”

”In the horrors”: To be excessively drunk. ”Your wan was in the horrors last night!”

Real Irish: 

And just incase you stumbled across this post looking to learn some actual Irish language here’s a few phrases:

Dia duit (Dee-ah guit): Hello (direct translation it means lord be with you but it’s commonly used for hello.)

Conas ata tú? (Cuh-nas a-taw too): How are you?

Is maith liom… (Iss mah lum): I like…

Slán (S-lawn): Bye

Go raibh maith agut (Gu rev mah ah-guth): Thank you


Now if you ever find yourself in a conversation with a wagon you can tell her ‘Slán’ and go off and get in the horrors with your wan. Just note, you will feel banjaxed in the morning. Nothing a tayto blaa and cuppa tea won’t fix though.


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35 thoughts on “How to speak ‘Irish’ – A beginners guide to Irish slang

  1. Jesus, Mary and Joseph and all the saints!! I love this…my ex wife and her family are Irish….It took me an unbelievable amount of time to even be able to follow a conversation! Especially as when I first met her at school apart from an accent she used ‘English’ words. So properly confused me! I felt like a complete Eejit! Even more so when we had our first argument…”you’ll really do that, will ya?”…seriously confused!
    I needed this post in my life 15 years ago! Good one made me chuckle!

    1. We’re planning on sending Aidan to an Irish speaking school so we have gotten him an Irish/English dictionary with great pictures and some flashcards too x

  2. Love this list. My hubby’s family are all irish so I have heard these and made me chuckle as I could hear them say them in their accent. hahaha Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

  3. My other half is from Dublin so I’m used to a lot of these as well, in fact he put the towel in the ‘hot press’ quite recently. No, it’s in the airing cupboard! #MMWBH

  4. Great post! I do think Ireland has got some of the best slang around. I’ve shared this with my wife who is learning ‘Real Irish’ on Duolingo, although it does come up with some odd sentences to translate – “The man has a vegetable” is a favourite. Not sure how much practical use that one would have?! I found your blog on The List.

    1. Oh really? I hated learning the language in school (along with english and french) but am happy so much of it stayed with me now to help Aidan in school.. Sounds like Duolingo was in the horrors when it came up with that sentence haha

  5. Some of them I have never even heard of even though I’ve been living in Ireland for the past 8 1/2 years now.
    But then others I thought they are just ordinary words everyone uses, that’s how used to I am to them. Lol
    great post.

  6. Fascinating! I spent a large chunk of my youngest years living with my Ulster grandmother and don’t think I ever heard any of those phrases. I can think of others she used that I still do to this day. Loved this post, very interesting. #theList

    1. Another blogger has said this too I guess maybe they’re only used in the south?I shall have to visit Ulster, purely for research of course haha

    1. It was voted the worlds sexiest language (don’t ask me who voted that!). If the weather is nice it’s got some lovely beaches and sights.

  7. Great post.

    I’ve lived here 10 years now and most of these are regulars in my vocabulary. I’m surprised you left out “YOLK” referring to anything at all. Took me ages to get the hang of it. She’s some yolk. Pass me the yolk. The best one of all though. You know what it is, the yolk that goes in here!!

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