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15th Mar 2019

13 Irish Phrases That Have Baffled Me Since Moving Here From The US


Before I moved to Ireland several months ago, I thought a language barrier was the last thing I’d have to worry about.

How wrong I was.

You guys have your own language – and the thing is, I’m not sure you realise when you use it. Seriously, think of these phrases from an outsiders’ point of view… and think how weird they must have sounded to me when I first heard them.

1. ‘Is that you?’

Translation: Are you done?

“Is what me? I’m right here…”

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2. That’s ‘gas’

Translation: That’s funny

How do you distinguish this between ‘funny’ and the foul smell coming from the arse?

To me, this is… gas.

Giphy 2

3. She’s ‘thick’

Translation: She’s moody and/or not very intelligent

In America, ‘thick’ is used to describe a woman with massive curves. Two very different things.

4. She was ‘polluted’

Translation: She was drunk

Not a pleasant visual in general. You mean she was wasted. Smashed. Ruined from overly consuming alcohol.I’ve also heard other variations, including these creative ways of saying you’re drunk.

I suppose in Ireland you would need that many ways of saying drunk.

Giphy 1

5. ‘He bate the head off him!’

Translation: He gave him quite a beating

Did he, though?

Because that definitely sounds like murder.

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6. ‘Yer man’ (used for every man who exists)

Translation: That guy.


7. He’s ‘taking the piss’

Translation: He’s joking

I’m not too fond of this one, as I always assume it means someone is using the toilet. And “ripping the piss”?

Well that’s just violent.


8. It’s ‘good craic’

Translation: It’s fun!

HONESTLY, I thought Ireland had a maaaajor drug problem at first.

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9. Ending every sentence with ‘like’ or ‘anyway’

Translation: Full stop.

Charming. But I’m always left staring, anticipating a follow-up.

10. That’s ‘cringe’

Adding this to my vocabulary. It’s catchy.


11. Me ‘bird’ was over the other night

Translation: My girlfriend was over the other night

Like “chicks”, but seemingly more derogatory. I’m not particularly into it.

Giphy 1

12. You look ‘massif’

Translation: You look great!

Some gal stopped me in the street, and I was appalled in thinking she was randomly calling me fat.

I was actually being complimented.

That could have ended badly.

Giphy 2

13. Feck it, it’s grand

Translation: [does not compute]

My favourite phrase of all time.

Usually when you curse something, it’s not because it is grand, but because it is the farthest thing from it – and this is just the most beautiful oxymoron of all time.

I love it, like. Pure gas.


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