Modern Ireland: Irish Slang
Story horse? We’re back again with some of the most confusing Irish slang terms we could find! (Missed part 1 and 2? Catch up here and here!)
Note: Just like in America, all slang presented below is regional. And just like America, it's difficult to figure out exactly where a singular word originates from when you're not living there. For this reason, regional information hasn't been included with this post.
Very lucky! Winning-the-lotto type lucky. Used as an adjective, as in, You’re so jammy!
First, we need to discuss a term you may have thought you already had down: craic (pronounced like “crack.”) It’s most commonly heard as a way to say “what’s up?”—i.e. “how’s the craic?” or as a synonym for fun (which is often described as being “90” when really fun, i.e. “the craic was 90.”) However, there’s yet another way you’ll hear it: minus craic, which is when something is really boring. It’s not just not fun, it’s quite literally negative fun.
Generally, teasing--making fun of someone, but in a friendly or nice way. Friends are just slagging each other. However, it can be used in a harsher way, as well. To slag someone off can mean to insult, criticize or upbraid them, sometimes behind their backs—this one is definitely about the context!
Fun or funny! This term is one that we had in the U.S. for a bit in the 50s, but has fallen out of fashion. You would describe someone, something, or an experience as being a gas when they make you laugh or you had a ton of fun doing it! A common way to use to this word is she/he/they/it were a gas altogether, i.e. really hilarious.
To complain or scold someone for misbehaving. A parent might be giving out to their child about acting up in school, or a friend might be giving out to another friend about something their partner did. Usually related to another person’s behavior.
Up to 90
Again, while we covered 90 last time as a way to describe the craic (it’s never 80 or even 100, always 90,) there’s another way the Irish like to use this number in their slang in two different ways. When someone says they’ve been up to 90 all day, they mean they’ve been incredibly busy/things have been chaotic. They may also use it as a way to express someone is bull-thick aka very angry, i.e. she’s been up to 90 since she found out I ate all the snacks.
Will I, yea?
A way of saying “I absolutely will not be doing that” in a sarcastic tone. As in: “You need to stop scrolling on TikTok.” “Will I, yea?!” It’s a definitely Irish way to answer someone—a lot of their slang has to do with opposites (i.e. saying you’re grand generally means you’re not doing so hot.)
No, this doesn’t have anything to do with eggs or oxen. It’s another catch-all word, this time for any object (a bit like we’d say “thingamajig,”) often used when you don’t know or can’t, at the moment, remember the name of an object. You might hear someone ask: What’s that yoke there?
A catch-all phrase that’s essentially used as a response when you’re not sure what to say, largely to acknowledge the other person is speaking to you (i.e. “It’s so hot out today.” “Ah, sure Iook.”) There’s a ton of ways to use/interpret sure look: “it is what it is,” the person is uninterested in what you’re saying (kind of like mmhmm,) an answer to a rhetorical question, grudgingly accepting your mistakes, positive reinforcement, begrudging respect, to look back with satisfaction, or just as conversational filler. Click the link for example sentences!
Give it a lash
While lash by itself can mean heavy rain (i.e. “it’s lashing down rain,”) when used in this particular phrase it means to try something out. You’d say give it a lash the same way you’d say “give it a go” in America. (Don’t get it mixed up with being on the lash though—that means you’ve gone out drinking.)
This post is part of a series. Check out our last Modern Irish culture post, with some fun Irish snacks, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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