If you’re like us, Irish craic is a bit of a mystery. The first time somebody asks you ‘what’s the craic?’ you might possibly burst out laughing! (or sheepishly hike up your jeans...)
But fair warning – neither response is the best way to show your Irish side!
Craic is a quintessentially Irish expression, a word that is used in so many contexts it can be difficult to define – even for the native Irishman or Irishwoman.
Gaelic in origin, the word is pronounced ‘crack,’ and at its most basic level it means something more or less like ‘fun.’
Not only is it pronounced 'crack,' but to make it even more mysterious, it is sometimes spelled 'c r a c k' - even when the Irish meaning is intended.
(So, to keep you on your toes, we'll go ahead and use both spellings to mean the same thing.)
To use the Irish expression 'craic' (crack) correctly, you must think of it in social terms.
Crack is interactive, laughing, singing, typically with drinking and / or music. It’s not something you say to describe reading a good book or taking a brisk nature walk, for example (fun as those things may be!)
It implies a complete absence of distrust, a sense of connection and engagement between a group of people who have put the ‘real world,’ aside and are simply enjoying each other for enjoyment’s sake.
It means laughing, banter, enjoying each others' company.
To ‘be good crack,’ is to be that kind of person, as in ‘she’s great crack when she's had a few (pints).’ Good Irish pubs, good concerts, good parties are considered to be ‘good crack.’
Other expressions you may hear:
“What’s the crack?”
“Where’s the crack?”
“How’s the crack?”
“It was great crack.”
The word is used not only in everyday social banter, but in many aspects of Irish culture, appearing for example in popular Irish music such as ‘The Crack Was Ninety (Mighty) in the Isle of Man.”
The word is also used to mean ‘buzz,’ or ‘gossip,’ as in – ‘what’s the crack?’ – similar to ‘what’s up?’
Even in this case, the question is really an Irish invitation to engage and have fun – not to just report the news.
If somebody asks you this question – and if you visit the Emerald Isle it is very likely somebody will – recognize it as the genuine sign of interest that it is.
The Irish asker wants to know you – who you are, what you doing, what you may know or may have heard that would be interesting to talk about.
Replying with an offhand ‘not much,’ or ‘same ol’ same ol’’ will put a quick end to what might otherwise have been good Irish craic!
Irish craic is at the heart of Irish culture and traditions.
Knowing how to ask and answer the question 'what's the craic?' is a right of passage to expressing your personal Irish side! Learn more about important other important sayings like this one in our Irish sayings page here!
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In the meantime, thank you so much for visiting Irish Craic! Now choose another topic above to continue exploring Irish culture and traditions, and to share your Irish side with the growing community at Irish Expressions.com!
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