What’s the Craic? 16 Essential Irish Slang Words You Should Know

The common misconception about Ireland is that the main language spoken is English. And, don’t get me wrong – it is! But, the Irish are well-known for their ability to use their slang like it’s the commonplace lingo. What’s the craic? Did you see that deadly series, Normal People? She goes to Trinners – look at her reading books! What’s that yoke inside Patrick’s car?

The Irish slang words are limitless. In this article, I highlight some common (for the Irish), but uncommon (for the visitors) Irish slang words that have yet to be found in dictionaries. So, without further ado, here are a few Irish colloquialisms to help you understand the next person you meet from Derry or Dublin or even Donegal!

Irish slang words


Banjaxed is a widely used word in Ireland that is meant to describe something (or someone) that is totally ruined, wrecked, or broken beyond repair. Hopefully, your heater isn’t banjaxed in the winter or else winter will really be coming.


Craic is pronounced “crack,” and it stands for general banter. What’s the craic?


This might be an odd word whose literal translation stands for “able to cause death,” but deadly in Ireland ironically is used to signify that something is excellent. For instance, that Formula 1 film was deadly with all the action scenes!


Eejit is practically the Irish-accented way to pronounce “idiot.” It is considered to be an Irish insult, but in an affectionate, mocking manner. Don’t be that type of fool!


Gammy and banjaxed can almost go hand-in-hand, but, while banjaxed stands for something that is broken, gammy is more along the lines of something that is not quite broken, but definitely doesn’t work perfectly either.


Did you make a hames out of it? Hames has become repurposed from make a hames of, meaning to make a mess of. For example, when a football player misses his golden opportunity to arc the ball into the net with no defensive players in sight, then there’s no doubt he’s made a hames of himself, the team, and the match.


In Ireland, the jacks refers to the toilet. It’s social misery to call it the restroom.


When something’s manky, then it has to be dirty, disgusting, or rotten. Bad food? That’s manky! Dirty clothes? That’s manky too.


Ossified truly means the scientific process of undergoing ossification, or the transformation into bone. But, in Ireland, ossified is Irish for very drunk; after a night out, the next morning, a mate might mention how absolutely ossified they were and how they could barely speak.

Irish slang words


Nope, this word doesn’t stand for a Facebook poke war! Instead, poke is a Northern Irish slang term for, you would never would have guessed it, ice cream. It specifically refers to ice cream served on a cone. It’s a word used mostly by the older generation in Northern Ireland; they also call the ice cream man the poke man. But, careful with the connotation of this word: if used incorrectly, it could mean something more suggestive than just ice cream. Tread lightly!


Pronounced like “square,” but with dropping the “s,” quare generally means great, very, and terrific. For instance, one might say the weather was quare cold. Get your mittens out!


Mostly used in Northern Ireland, the word scundered is to feel embarrassment. See those cheeks get red when you embarrass yourself or one of your mates!


Oh, you go to Trinners? This term refers to Trinity College Dublin.

Up the Yard!

The actual phrase is “get up the yard,” but there needed to be something representative of the letter U. Get up the yard is an exclamation of disbelief; it essentially means “yeah right” or “as if.” It’s a humourously mild rebuke about “getting lost” with the nonsense.


Wrecked is a word that is not just relatable in Ireland. It’s become a worldwide word that defines exhaustion. However, according to the Irish, this fatigue is often associated with exhaustion after a night out!


This word is quite similar to that of “yolk,” but yoke has nothing to do with eggs. Sorry! Instead, yoke is just another way of saying “thing.” Someone might point to an object they don’t know the name of or the proper name to call it and ask “What’s the yoke there?” So, get to it and hand me that yoke over there, would ya?

I hope this A-Z (a few short of letters) list of Irish slang words will help you fit right in like a local. You’ll be talking like a seasoned pro in no time!


Melanie Romero
Melanie Romero

Melanie Romero is a creative writer and college student based in Orange County, California. When she’s not overworking herself to meet a deadline, she can be found drinking an iced chai at her local organic café, making sufganiyot from scratch, or collecting paperbacks.

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