Talk like a local: The 10 Most Irish Slang Phrases || EC Dublin

One of the joys of learning English is getting to know the slang that comes with it. Every country has its own but today, we’re focusing on Irish slang. With St. Patrick’s Day only around the corner on March 17th, it’s the perfect time for our EC Dublin students to take themselves out among the friendly Irish locals. You can practise these key words and phrases to have fun while you’re practising your English!



1. How’s she cuttin’?

This phrase comes from farmers asking about the conditions for hay or crop cutting during the harvest season and has since been adopted across Ireland to be a way to ask how you are. So, you can feel free to answer it truthfully, now that you know what it means! Number 2 on our list is the perfect answer, in fact.


2. Grand

If you know any Irish person, you’ve likely heard this word already, and it’s the go-to answer to our first question, “how’s she cuttin’?” or, “what’s the craic?” (see phrase number 3 below). ‘Grand’ means the same as ‘ok’. It can also be used to confirm something, for example if someone asks you to meet them at the cinema at 9pm, you can simply reply ‘grand’.



3. Craic

An Irish word that’s been integrated into English. It’s pronounced, ‘crack’, and means ‘fun’. It can be used to describe fun of various levels, for example: savage craic – the best fun you’ll ever have; great craic – really good fun; craic – fun; no craic – quite literally, no fun at all.

Bonus: “What’s the craic?”: Another way to ask, “how are you”, e.g. Tony: “Hey Mark, what’s the craic?”, Mark: “Grand, thanks.”



4. A cup of scald

If there’s one thing Irish people love, it’s their tea. You can have it any way you like, with milk, with sugar, with milk and sugar but it absolutely must be hot, and that is where this phrase comes from. In Ireland, tea is only sufficiently hot when it could scald, or burn, your mouth. Usage: “How was your holiday?”, “It was great! Let’s have a cup of scald and I’ll tell you all about it.”



5. Culchies & Jackeens

A ‘culchie’ is what Dublin people playfully call anyone who was born in a part of Ireland outside of Dublin. A ‘jackeen’ is what people born in the countryside, or anywhere beyond Dublin, call Dubliners.



6. Wojus

This one is a favourite among Dubliners so if you’re at EC Dublin, you may have already encountered it. ‘Wojus’ means, terrible or awful.



7. Fair play

You may even hear this one in your English class someday, ‘fair play’ or ‘fair play to you’, means ‘well done’!



8. Donkey’s years

A very, very long time. E.g., “Are you watching Star Trek? I haven’t seen that for donkey’s years!”



9. Eejit

A fool or an idiot. It’s often used in a playful way, rather than as an insult, although like most things it all depends on the tone of voice!



10. On the lash

This one is commonly used when going out for a drink, and can be phrased as, “Will we go on the lash?”; “Anna is going on the lash with us later” or “We were on the lash last night”.



You’ll hear these words and phrases being used everywhere from Dublin to Galway, and Belfast to Cork so if you explore Ireland while you’re learning English, be sure to pack this one in your bag. It’ll be your bible when you study English in EC Dublin.

Are you planning to study English abroad? EC offers classes in a variety of tempting locations around the world and they’re waiting for you.