Modern Irish Culture: Irish Slang
There’s nothing an American loves more than a UK accent. That being said, it doesn’t mean we can always understand everything they’re saying. While modern entertainment has brought British slang to the forefront (everyone knows what someone means when they hear “loo” or “boot,”) there’s still plenty of linguistic mystery when it comes to the Emerald Isle. Here’s a few choice phrases and some vocabulary (just in case we ever get to travel again, or so you can at least fully understand Irish TV shows in the meantime):
How’s the craic?
Craic translates to “fun,” but this common phrase is essentially a way of saying “what’s up?” or “how’s it going?” Pronounced crack.
Just as the British have “loo,” and we have the bizarre (if you think about it) “restroom,” wherever they keep the toilets in Ireland are jacks.
Wind your neck in!
A vaguely (but not entirely) rude way of telling someone to be quiet, usually because they’re complaining too much, overstepping their bounds, or being generally difficult.
I know what you’re thinking, but this word has its own connotation in Ireland. It’s more of an equivalent to “fine” or “okay” with a touch of irony, and is apparently the most common answer to every question.
Go away out of that.
This one is often described as “untranslatable,” but it’s relatively similar to our non-literal version of “get out of here” with a unique grammatical structure. Kind of like a scoffing, “I don’t believe you,” or “you must be joking!”
A common way to express that something’s really, definitely correct. As in: “You’re bang on with that opinion, Irish dance is the best.”
A sly, cunning, and manipulative person. What we might call a “smooth-talker.”
He’s a topper.
Turn of phrase usually used for a well-respected, younger man. We might say he’s a “stand up guy” or “a gentleman.”
In typical slang fashion, this is one of those words that means the opposite of what it sounds like (as in when surfers say “sick” or “gnarly.”) Basically translates to “cool.” The second option is just the abbreviated version.
And this is only the beginning…
Note: Just like in America, all slang presented above 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.
This is Volume II of a series, read Volume I about modern 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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