Irish Slang

Irish Slang Dictionary - A Project

The English language was forced upon the peasants of Ireland and quickly led to the demise of native Irish, or Gaeilge. However, the Irish proved themselves easy masters of the colonialists' tongue. Perhaps it was the incorporation of the lyricism of Irish into the English spoken in Ireland that led to the world-renowned Irish writers of prose and poetry, such as James Joyce, Seamus Heaney and Samuel Beckett. Great writer Kurt Vonnegut said: "Lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. The Irish contribution to the English language also includes a wonderful range of slang and this Irish Slang Dictionary Project will be a living embodiment of literary and cultural expression. 

Amadan: Fool. From Gaeilge.

Bird: Woman.
Bleedin'/Bleeding: Damned. "I've a bleedin' pain in me bleedin' face." Esp Dublin.
Bollick/bollock: Testicle.
Bollocks: Annoying person.
Brown bread: Dead (Dublin rhyming slang).
Bud: Pal. Esp Dublin.

Company, in: In a round with somebody already. "Can I get you a pint, Paddy?" "No thanks, I'm in company."
Crater: Creature.
Cream cracker: Knacker (Dublin rhyming slang).
Culchie: Anyone from outside Dublin. Origin possibly from the Gaeilge for wood dweller.

Dickhead: Idiot.
Dirtbird: Woman of low repute.
Drinklink: ATM
Droot: Drought, thirst. “I’ve the droot on me.”
Drop the hand: Cop a feel.

Eejit: Idiot.

Fanny: Vagina.
Flute: Idiot.
Flutered: Drunk.

Galavanting: To be out and about in search of pleasure. "He's off galavanting." Esp West of Ireland.
Gap: Female crotch.
Gobshite: Idiot.
Gombeen: Chancer.
Gawtellpuss: God help us.
Gouger: Knacker. Pronounced gowjerEsp Dublin.
Gowl: Term of abuse, similar to idiot, asshole etc. Also: Vagina.
Origin: ghoul.
Gurrier: Child knacker. Esp Dublin.

Half-cut: Partially drunk.
Half-langers: Partially drunk.
Hames, make a: Mess up. "He made a hames of his life because of the drink."
Hawky: Broken/not cool.
Head: Buddy, as in, "What's the story, head?"
Head-the-ball: Lunatic.
Heifer: Fat girl.

IRA: Irish Republican Army. Terrorist organisation.

Jackeen: Dubliner. From the days of British rule, when Dubliners hung Union Jack flags outside their slum homes to celebrate the Queen's/King's birthday etc.
Jamrag: Sanitary towel.
Jiz: Semen
Joy, The: Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. College for knackers.

Knacker: Teenage thug, tending to have a shaven head, wear Nike or Adidas, take drugs, start fights and steal.
Knob: Penis. Idiot.
Knobhead: Idiot.

Langer: Penis. Also: Idiot.
Langers: Drunk.

Manky: Dirty (physically or bawdy).
Meet: Kiss.
Mickey money: Child benefit (State payment to parents, made on the first Tuesday of every month).
Mot: Girlfriend. Esp Dublin. Pronounced: Moh.

Nail, on the: Exact amount, esp. money.
Nobber: Idiot.
Noggin: Head.

Pure: Totally.

RA: Slang for IRA
Rapid: Great
Real IRA: Splinter group which is against peace with Britain or weapons decommissioning.

Scarlet: Embarrassed. Esp Dublin. Pronounced: Scarleh. "I was scarlet when I realised that I was out in public and I wasn't wearing my pyjamas."
Scoby: Knacker. Esp Dublin.
Scratcher: Dole (social welfare payment for being unemployed). Esp Dublin. From Dublin rhyming slang - Scratch your hole.
Sham/shom: Buddy/pal.
Shape, throwing a: Showing off. "He was just throwing shapes so he could shift that heifer."
Shaper: Show off.
Shift: Kiss, as in "I shifted her." In Dublin, can mean to have sex with.
Shoulder pad: Sanitary towel.
Skanger: Knacker. Esp Dublin.
Sláinte: Drinking toast, literally 'health'. From Gaeilge.
Slapper: Woman with loose morals. Esp Dublin.
Slaughtered: Very drunk. Esp Dublin.
Snog: Kiss.
Spastic: Complete idiot.
St Vitas's Dance (to have): Can't sit still. "That young fellah has St Vitas's Dance. That, or he's taken an e."
Steamer: Homosexual.
Stop the lights: Give me a break. From Irish 1970s gameshow, Quicksilver with Bunny Carr.
Story?: Dublin greeting, from "What's the story?"

Tackies: Runners/sneakers.
Tinker: Traveller; itinerant. Caravan-dwelling nomads, recognized as an ethnic minority in the UK, but not so in Ireland.
Tiocfaidh ár lá: Our day will come (Republican slogan). 
From Gaeilge.
Tool: Idiot. Also: penis.
Twat: Idiot.

Walking: Dirty (literally). "He was walking with the dirt when he came home from Electric Picnic." Likely derives from somebody's clothes being covered in fleas.
Wank: Masturbate.
Wanker: Masturbator. Idiot. Waster.
Well-cut: Very drunk.
Whoremaster: Pimp
Whoremonger: Pimp.
Withered: Bored.

Ye: Standard Irish for you plural, pr. yee. May be said as 'Youse' in Dublin, pr. 'yooze'.
Ye spoilt bastards: Said to someone who is doing alright.

If you have any examples of Irish slang, please email, including any geographical references and explanations. And if you enjoy this carry-on, you'll love PURE MAD, which is a vernacular spectacular!