10 Irish slang words & expressions for St. Patrick’s Day

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St. Patrick’s Day is nearly here again! Taking place each year on 17 March, for most the day conjures images of four-leaf clovers, prancing leprechauns and, of course, parades showered in green.

Knowing a few Irish slang words can only add to the fun, right? 

But before we get to that, first we wanted to fill you in on the history of this special day.

Who was St. Patrick, and why do we celebrate the day?

People celebrate this day to commemorate the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who ministered to Christianity in Ireland during the fifth century. 

What started as a religious feast day in the seventeenth century has since evolved into festivals across the world celebrating Irish culture. 

It’s now all about parades, special Irish food, music, drinking, dancing and an immense amount of green!

Check out these 10 Irish slang words for St. Patrick’s Day 2020

This year, to get you into the spirit of things, we thought it would be a good idea to teach you some essential Irish slang.

1. Grand

What it means to the Irish: Fine or mediocre

Let’s start with a well-known Irish word. While in England, ‘grand’ is used to express excess, in Ireland it means something quite different. Sometimes it’s used to give the okay. 

 “That’s grand.”

 Other times it’s used to give reassurance. 

“Don’t worry, you’re grand.”

Some people even use it to say how they feel.

“I was sick yesterday, but I feel grand today.”

2. Eejit (pronounced e-jit)

What it means to the Irish: Idiot

This one means fool – it’s an Irish slang word so beloved that the English have adopted it, too. It’s more of an affectionate or mocking term though, so don’t take any offence!

“You’re such an eejit.”

3. Class

What it means to the Irish: Excellent, group of students, category, group of people of a certain societal/economic calibre

In English – both in England and Ireland – the word class has a variety of meanings, from a class of students learning at school to a class indicating a person’s societal and economic status. 

There’s another meaning to the word, though. When something is described as “class”, it’s usually excellent or very, very good.

“That’s class!”

4. Yoke

What it means to the Irish: Thing/thingamabob

Yoke is actually used to refer to a ‘thing’ that has no name or that people can’t remember the name of.

“What’s that yoke there?”

5. Lash

What it means to the Irish: Different things in different contexts…

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’ – a good one to know for St. Patrick’s Day then!

Lash on Friday night?

6. Craic (pronounced ‘crack’)

What it means to the Irish: Fun or news

This word means two things: fun and news. 

It’s so widely used in Ireland, but few know that it actually comes from the Middle English word “crak”, which meant ‘loud conversation’. 

Today, Irish expressions like with craic when greeting each other. This example, for instance, means “How’s it going?”.

What’s the craic?

People also say ‘good craic’ to say something is fun or a good time.

That party was wild craic.

7. Fair play

What it means to the Irish: Great job

People use this expression to tell someone else they have done a good job.

Fair play, mate!

8. Gaff

What it means to the Irish: House

It is common for kids to say they have a ‘free gaff’ when their parents are away. Psst: that’s code for: let’s party!

I’lll pop over to your gaff later.

9. Knackered

What it means to the Irish: Exhausted or broken

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

That tractor is completely knackered.

10. Langered

What it means to the Irish: Extremely drunk

So drunk, you can’t even stand up! Please take note, kids: extreme drinking is bad for you – don’t do it!

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!