Here are a few words and phrases that are commonly used here in Cork (possibly Ireland in general), but are not used in the same way in the States so this may prove to be useful to newcomers or visitors. You may notice some words are not unique to Cork or to Ireland, but they are used here in enough frequency that it may be helpful to mention. Some phrases are self-explanatory or even the same the world over, but if it is the main word for something I’ve included it so you know that other words for such things may not be as well used. For the most part, the word or phrase itself is listed, but when I feel context is more helpful that too is included.
IRISH PHRASE = AMERICAN PHRASE
Alright Bud? or Alright Brother? = Greeting among men.
Ball hopping ya = messing with you
Banjaxed = Broken or not functioning (things, not people)
Brilliant = Rather good.
Call = In-person visit
Craic = Good times, fun company
Com’ere or Come here or Com’ere now = Listen
Come here to me = Listen up
Conkers = Horse chestnuts fallen from a tree that are used in a game.
Deadly = Better than brilliant.
Desperate = Rather bad.
Donkey’s Years or Ages = A long time.
Dote = Term of endearment for someone, such as a nice person or a baby.
Fair play to you. (or just Fair play.) = Good job.
Give out = Complain, vent, or rant
Go on = Yes please (with an undercurrent of “twist my arm”)
Grand. = Good, super, fine, or great (usually used in context: It’s grand. or You’re grand. Example would be if you take a phone call while out with a friend and apologize for the interruption and your Irish friend may reassure you that it was ok by saying ‘oh, you’re grand.’)
Gutted = Very very upset (e.g., “I’m gutted to be missing Niamh’s hen night but I’m working.”)
Half Nine = Nine Thirty (used to denote the half-hour point of time, works for any hour not just nine)
How are you keeping? = How are you?
How’s the form? = How are you?
How’s she cutting? = How’s are you doing?
In good form = Doing well.
I Will Yeah = No way, but won’t say no to your face.
I’m at the end of by wick = At the end of my rope or I’m at my wit’s end.
In bits = Very upset (e.g., “I’m in bits over losing my wallet.”)
In stitches = laughing heartily
Jacks= Men’s bathroom
Kip = Nap
Knackered = Extremely tired or worn out
Lay off = Give me a break
Lie in = Sleeping late or morning in relaxing (this can include reading the paper or watching an early match)
Lift = Elevator
Lovely = Lovely (same meaning, but used more often)
Match = Game of sports (such as hurling soccer, or Irish football)
The Pictures or Cinema = The Movies or Movie Theatre
Redundancy or Made redundant = Corporate/company lay-offs
Ring = Telephone call
Snaps = Photographs
Row (rhymes with Cow) = Fight
State = Bad condition, eg. “Look at the state of her” or “She was in a right state.”
Taking the piss = Teasing you
Telly = Television
That’s cat = Awful
Winding ye up = Teasing you
Wrecked = Very tired
Weather – RELATED BLOG POST
Torrential Rain = Unrelenting. Falling rapidly and with force, in copious quantities.
Lashing Rain = Diagonal hard rain (think hurricane weather)
Sheets of Rain = Seems like walls of rain coming down.
Heavens Opened = Sudden onset of strong solid flow of rain.
Bucketing Rain = Out in this rain you feel like you’re instantly soaked.
Pissing Rain = Vertical hard rain (not as much wind as Lashing Rain)
Wet Rain = Not necessarily a heavy rain, but one that dampens you and soaks your clothes
Trying to Rain = The clouds have some in them but it’s not quite coming down with consistency.
Sun Shower = Raining while sunny out. Perfect rainbow weather!
Soft day = Cloudy weather with soft mist or drizzle (typical Irish weather)
Grand Soft Day = A humid day with a fine, light drizzle.
Dry Rain = Mist that doesn’t get you wet even though it’s technically raining
Grand Stretch = Longer days give a stretch of daylight after work but before bedtime
Shopping & Apparel
Are you ok there? = Can I help you?
Byro or Biro = Ball-point pen (or any kind of pen for that matter)
Buggy = Stroller for baby
Dear = Expensive
Dummy or Soother = Pacifier for baby
Fairy lights = Christmas tree lights
Fiver = Five Euro bill
Jumper = Pullover sweater
Messages = Shopping errands
Nappy = Diaper (for babies)
Odds = Loose change
Off-license = Liquor store (where you can purchase alcohol to bring home)
Queue = Line at checkout or ticket office
Quid = Bucks (cash term)
Rushers or Wellies = Rain boots or Wellington boots
Tackies or Trainers or Runners = Sneakers, running shoes
Tenner = Ten Euro bill
Wool = Knitting/Crochet Yarn
Afters = Dessert
Aubergine = Eggplant
Bap = Roll (often alongside a meal or to describe a sandwich)
Bangers = Sausage
Biscuit = Cookie
Black pudding = Blood sausage (Rosscarbery and Clonakilty in Co. Cork is known for this)
Caster Sugar or Icing Sugar = Powdered Sugar
Chipper = Fish & chips restaurant (usually tiled with the food wrapped in paper)
Chips = French fries
Clonakilty pudding = see Black pudding
Coriander = Cilantro
Courgette = Zucchini
Crisps = Potato chips
Crubeens = Pig’s feet/trotters
Doorstep = Sandwich
Drasheen = Liver sausage (similar to Haggis in its reputation and localization or popularity)
Fizzy Water = Selzter
Fizzy Drinks = Soda
Fry up = Fried Irish breakfast (including but not limited to sausage/pudding, bacon, and/or eggs)
Gorgeous = Delicious.
Gubbeen = Cheese (A surface ripened, semi-soft, cows milk cheese with a pink and white rind. The flavours are creamy with mushroom and nutty aftertastes but vary depending on maturity of cheese. Can also be smoked)
Jam = Preserves or Jelly
Jelly = Gummy Candy or sometimes something like Jell-O
Mash = Mashed potatoes
Minerals = Soda, pop, soft drinks
Or-ray-GONE-o = Oregano
Pudding (savory) = Sausage (black pudding is made with blood)
Pudding (sweet) = Dessert that bears no resemblance to Jell-O Pudding.
Rashers = Bacon
Rocket = Arugula
Slurry = A blend of cow manure and water that creates a fantastic natural fertilizer (unlike this)
Spuds = Potatoes
Still water = Bottled water without carbonation
Sultanas = Raisins
Sweets = Candy
Tanora = A tangerine-flavored soda – RELATED BLOG POST
Toastie = Toasted Sandwich
Tripe = Edible offal of an animal’s stomach. Tripe and Dresheen are pure Cork.
Veg = Vegetables
Water Jug = Water Pitcher
The Drink & Nightlife
Bevvies = Drinks (usually involving alcohol)
Craic = Fun time, good company, etc…
Fag = Cigarette
Flaming = Drunk
Glass = Half-pint of beer or cider
Hen = Bachelorette party
Jacks = Men’s bathroom
Local = Corner pub (it would be the nearest pub to your location and the one you likely frequent) – RELATED BLOG POST
Lock in = A pub locks up and shuts down to appear closed from the outside, but people are still drinking and enjoying the craic inside.
Off-License = Where you may purchase alcohol that you will drink elsewhere. – RELATED BLOG POST
Offy = Off-License
On the lash = To get drunk
On the pig’s back = In a mood to celebrate (this is also the name of a popular cheese shop in Cork City’s English Market)
Pint = Twenty ounces of beer or cider (Do NOT use the term Imperial Pint)
Pissed = Drunk
Plastered = Drunk
Poteen = Moonshine (High in alcohol. The poorly made stuff is dangerous.)
Shifting = Snogging or making out
Stag = Bachelor party/weekend (“Stag” in America is to go to a dance or event dateless)
Places, Travel & Getting Around
Boot = Car trunk
Call in = Visit
Creche = Daycare
Dodgy = Rough (as in crime)
Estate = Station Wagon
Garden = Lawn-laden green area with flowers, shrubs, or trees (not yard)
Holiday(s) = Vacation or getaway
Lorry = Truck
Path or Footpath = Sidewalk
The Pictures or Cinema = The Movies or Movie Theatre
Primary School = Elementary School
Return = Round-trip
Ride = VERY intimate meaning, do not use in conversation except with your significant other.
Ring = Telephone (verb)
Secondary School = High School
Strand = Beach
Slán Abhaile = Safe travels home (this is on signs when you exit a town or parking garage)
Thanks for the lift. = Thanks for driving me (usually one direction only, pub to home or home to the match).
Thanks for the spin. = Thanks for driving me (usually a trip someplace and back or a scenic drive).
Windscreen = Windshield
Yard = Enclosed space, like a prison yard or courtyard
Referring to People
Bold = Brave, Mischievous, or Troublemaking
Culchie(s) = Country bumpkin or hick (Derogatory term Dubliners use for country dweller)
Cute hoor = A shrewd scoundrel, especially in business or politics.
Doxie(s) = A woman who makes her living offering favors to men
(not a type of boating shoe)
Hard case = Tough nut to crack (?)
Jackeen(s) = Dublin city slicker (Derogatory term anyone not from Dublin uses to describe a Dubliner)
Langer = Foolish person
Lollygagging = Dawdle or spend time idly.
Mad = Crazy
On the dole = On social security, unemployment, or welfare
Oxter = Armpit
Pioneer = Someone who does not drink alcoholic beverages (it is an established way of life
Red neck = From the countryside, not Dublin
Tinker(s) = Derogatory term for Traveller
Traveller(s) = Gypsy (Travellers live in communities and often migrate in trailers/caravans)
Turf accountant (Ladbrokes/Paddy Power) = OTB, off-track betting or bookie
Wojus = Poor or bad.
Yoke = A thing or person