Learning a few key Irish words and phrases is such a great way to express your love of the Emerald Isle.
Not only will it endear you to your native Irish friends, it could also save you some embarrassment the next time you try to find the washroom at an Irish pub!
Trust me, that happened to a friend of mine. Yes, a friend. It wasn't me. Honest...
To begin with, you will definitely want to know what we believe is the most recognized word in the Irish vocabulary!
Here it is (drum roll please...) Slainte - pronounced SLAWN-chuh, which means ‘health,’ ‘cheers’ and in most cases ‘drink up!’
And being willing to venture out and say ‘hello’ (Dia Duit: pronounced JEE-uh-gwich) and ‘goodbye’ (Slan: pronounced slawn) would be appreciated in many parts of Ireland, the way it is anywhere you use the local language.
We recommend you get comfortable with these basic Irish phrases. They are easy to say, easy to use, and they work in nearly any Irish drinking establishment in the world!
In some of our earlier visits to Ireland, and even in talking with Irish colleagues in the US, we have had many chances to practice our Irish words and phrases.
On our way to learning the beautiful Gaelic language, we have found it fun and rewarding to practice everyday phrases and Irish slang in English.
On rare occasions, we are ‘Bang On’ (pronounced Bang On, meaning we got it right). More often we ‘make a bags of it’ and have to be corrected.
For example, knowing the various uses of 'craic' can be useful, even if it’s just a matter of not looking confused when somebody asks you ‘What’s the crack?’ or ‘Where’s the crack?’
In such cases you are being asked ‘what’s up?’ and you should respond with what you are doing, where you are going, and whether you care to invite the asker to join you.
(Fair warning: looking around - as if the ‘crack’ were a thing to be pointed at - is a sure sign that Irish slang is not your first language.)
While certain phrases may confuse you, we imagine others will be perfectly understandable. For example if your companion looks over your shoulder at an attractive man or woman and describes them as a ‘fine (foin) thing,’ we’re pretty sure you’ll get it.
On the other hand, if your companion frowns and nods at that ‘shower of savages,’ across the room, you may have a more difficult time figuring out what they’re talking about (let’s just say – it’s something you don’t want to be).
And by the way, if somebody tells you you’re ‘suckin’ diesel,’ don’t get angry – it’s a good thing (means you’re doing great, making sense).
If you want more, have a look at our section on Irish slang here!
If you prefer to kick it up a notch and actually speak a bit of the language, there are a few words and phrases you should definitely know.
The most basic greeting, ‘how are you,’ Conas ata tu? (CUN-es uh-TA tu). The standard reply ‘I’m doing fine,’ is Taim go maith (TAHm g’ MAW). Goodbye (slan) is pronounced SLAWN.
Other greetings could be ‘good morning,’ maidin maith (May jun my) or ‘good evening’ trathnona maith (traw no nuh my).
To say ‘please,’ le do thoil (LE doh HUL). To say ‘thank you,’ Go raibh maith agat (GUH ROW MAW ug ut). And ‘you’re welcome,’ is go ndeanai mhaith duit (Go nia-nee wa ditch).
And finally, ‘where do I find the bathroom?’ Ca bhfuil an leithreas (CA wil awn LE HER as?).
Well, since you asked ... you can find some more information right here!
Each week we scan the web looking for the most interesting ways to express your Irish side - so you can find them all in one place!
Have a look at this week's feature!
We love this short article from Blarney Woolen Mills!
Learning a few Irish words and phrases is a key step in celebrating Irish culture.
There are lots of online translators that can help you continue your study of the Irish language. One of the better ones is
Simply enter the word or phrase you want to translate into the search bar at the top of the page. Let us know what you think of this utility.
Then test your knowledge using our free, downloadable Irish Words game!
Meanwhile, this site is all about sharing your love of Irish culture, by expressing your Irish side in your day today life. A great way to do that is to connect with us!
Please send us feedback about this page, or any part of our site, using our contact form here.
Then click on another link above and let's continue expressing your Irish side at Irish Expressions.com.
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