10 Irish expressions for St. Patrick’s Day


St. Patrick’s Day is here again! Taking place each year on March 17th, people celebrate this day to commemorate the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. What started as a religious feast day in the 17th century has evolved into loads of festivals across the world celebrating Irish culture. It’s now all about parades, special Irish foods, music, drinking, dancing and an immense amount of green! This year we thought it would be a good idea to teach you some essential Irish slang to get you in the spirit!

1. Grand

Let’s start with a well-known one. While in England, ‘grand’ means ‘magnificent’ or ‘magestic’, in Ireland, it means something quite different. ‘Grand’ in Ireland means ‘fine’ or ‘mediocre’. People use it in different contexts. Sometimes it’s used to give the okay, other times it’s used to give reassurance and some people even use it to say how they feel.

Example 1: “That’s grand.”
Example 2: “Don’t worry, you’re grand.”
Example 3: “I was sick yesterday, but I feel grand today.”

2. Eejit (pronounced e-jit)

This one means ‘fool’. It’s more of an affectionate or mocking term though, so don’t take any offence!

Example: “You’re such an eejit.”

3. Class

When something is class, it’s usually excellent or very, very good.

Example: “That’s class!”

4. Yoke

No, this term has nothing to do with egg yolks if you were wondering! It is actually used to refer to a ‘thing’ that has no name or that people can’t remember the name of.

Example: “What’s that yoke there?” (What’s that thing there?)

5. Lash

The word ‘lash’ can mean various things. If you say ‘give it a lash’ you’re telling someone to give something a try. If it’s raining heavily, people tend to say ‘it’s lashing out of the heavens’. And last but not least, ‘to go on the lash’ means ‘to go out drinking’ – good one to know for St. Patrick’s Day then!

Example: “Lash on Friday night?”

6. Craic (pronounced ‘crack’)

This word means two things: fun and news. It’s so widely used in Ireland that people don’t realise that it actually comes from the Middle English word crak which meant ‘loud conversation’. ‘What’s the craic?’ is used as a greeting to mean ‘How’s it going?’ and people say ‘good craic’ to describe something as fun.

Example: “That party was wild craic.”

7. Fair play

People say this to express their approval when someone else has done a good job of something.

Example: “Fair play mate!”

8. Gaff

‘Gaff’ in Ireland means ‘house’. It is common for teenagers to say they have a ‘free gaff’ when their parents are away meaning there will be a party.

Example: “I will pop over to your gaff later.”

9. Knackered

People in Ireland don’t just use this word to say that they are exhausted. They also use it to say that something is broken.

Example: “That tractor is completely knackered.”

10. Langered

This means extremely drunk. So drunk you can’t even stand up!

Example: “He’s completely langered.”

Emma was a French Language Expert at Busuu. Originally from London, U.K, Emma moved to Brighton to study Anthropology and Languages (French and Spanish) and later spent time living on the French overseas department, La Réunion. In her spare time she loves travel and culture, crochet, cooking and singing!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here