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15th Dec 2023

39 Irish phrases we all say that actually make no sense


Sure lookit and sure listen, we are all at it

While the fluency of the Irish language has unfortunately escaped us (thanks Brits), despite the want of the Irish education system. There are still some anomalies in our vocab that confound other English speakers no end, and sure isn’t it great that we have our own Hiberno-English that most people don’t get. If you’ve ever uttered some of those to someone who isn’t Irish, you’re bound to be met with a strange look.

39. Now we’re sucking diesel

We are going well now, no need to worry

38. I’ve a goo on me

I’ve an interest in something (typically used to describe a want for a pint/food)

37. Get up the garden

Off you pop

36. I’m up to high doe

Used to describe some nervousness or a high level of excitement

35. That’s me then

When you are about to leave company

34. Stop the lights

Describes a feeling of shock/disbelief

33. I do be doing dat don’t I

Used to describe a common attribute of your own behaviour

32. After 

Frequently used to describe the past tense in a story, I was only after doing something

31. Give it a lash

Used to describe giving something a go

30. Wrecks my head/headwrecker

Frequently used when describing something or someone annoying

29. Hold on a wee minute

Used to politely pause someone

28. That’s the craic now she said,as she put her leg on the kitchen table

A true classic of our dialect

27. He didn’t lick it off a stone

Off a what? Ah yes a stone

26. Well that’s it now

And isn’t it just

25. Bit of a quare hawk

A strange aul fish

24. Isn’t that it

A pretty non-sensical thing to say but listen it works for us

23. Yes 

In Derry, people say ‘Yes’ instead of hello, this is typically followed by a hi, so the conversation goes like this ‘Yes hi!’

22. Bold 
Used to describe someone who is misbehaving21. It will stand to you

Definitely an Irish-ism, typically used as a message of support after someone has gone through something challenging/difficult

20. Work away

Typically used in response to a request, which encourages the person to carry on

19. Lost the run of himself/herself

Gone a bit mad/ gotten a bit carried away

18. He/she is awful sound

Awful being a stand-in for the word “very” for some unknown reason.

17. I will ya

A distinctly Cork way to tell someone that you absolutely will not do something.

16. Fierce mild 

This genuinely makes no sense, fierce mild is typically used to describe the weather, when it is warmer than expected/forecasted or previously thought.

15. I am in my hole!

This is our unequivocal way of telling someone that we are absolutely not doing something, we say it in an emphatic way that’s hard to describe when it’s written down, the dead-pan delivery is key here.

14. Gas man/woman

Used to describe a truly funny individual who behaves in an amusing manner.

13. C’mere to me/Come here till I tell ya

This phrase objectively might make sense, if it’s taken literally to mean “come here to me” but it doesn’t just mean that. It is a way to gain the confidence or undivided attention of someone.

12. she’s/he’s after giving out to me

A phrase that truly defies all logic, the tense is genuinely all over the place, and yet it makes perfect sense to us.

11. This is just after happening

Why the ‘after’? What does that bring to the table? When you really think about it, the sentence makes no sense.

10. I will now in a few minutes

One to drive the parents up the wall. Are you going to do it now, or in a few minutes? Which??

9. Your man/your one

This one seriously confuses people. If you’re not familiar with it, there’s no way you’re going to figure out who we’re talking about.

8. You know yourself

Well, I like to think I do, but what a deep statement to throw into a conversation.

7. Go away out of that

Are you asking me to leave, is that it?

6. Take in the messages

Not to be confused with the messages on your phone, which y’know, would be easy to do. Seeing as this has no reference to the groceries.

5. Leg it

Okay, I can kind of see the logic in this one. Half a point.

4. Sure look

At what?

3. Put them on the horse

Usually said upon receiving a pile of wet clothes from the washing machine. No, they’re not to be put on a real horse. Don’t be so ridiculous.

2. I’ll see you now

If you’re going to see me now, then why are you leaving? This really makes no sense.

1. Sorry

This can be used in so many contexts, that it can be confusing. We probably overuse it a bit. Sorry.

Have we only gone and missed any? Let us know on [email protected]

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Irish sayings

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