My favourite Irish expressions


I miss Ireland with a fiery ache in my chest. Maybe it’s the acid reflux from drinking 40 bottles of wine in my friend’s camper last night – who really knows? But since everyone and their dog is going to Ireland this summer, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I miss it.

1. What’s the craic?

Craic, pronounced like “crack”, is the Irish word used to describe the country’s spirit. It’s a positive thing. “What’s the craic?” is pretty much “what’s up?” “He’s great craic” or “that’s the craic” means something was wonderful, pleasing, delightful.

My favourite: “Let’s knock a little craic out of it tonight.”

2. Your man

“Your man over there” confused the hell out of me whenever my friend David from Sligo used it. I don’t have a man. We’d be sitting around having a pint of Guinness at a pub and then someone would say, “Your man over there is drunk.” If I had a man, he probably WOULD be drunk.

I’ve also heard it used to describe a woman, although the more common expression is “your one” (which sounds more like “wan”).

3. I’m grand, sure

We use this one commonly in Newfoundland as well. “I’m grand, sure” means everything is fab and wonderful and life is happy fun. The “sure” is just there for fun.

4. Did you give her the shift?

A “shift” in Ireland means a French kiss. When a friend asked me “Did he give you the shift?” I was appalled he’d be so forward. I figured it meant something more sexual. But nope, it turns out a cheeky shift with an Irishman is actually a lot of fun.

5. Go way outta it

This is another common expression in Newfoundland, usually meant to convey either disbelief or frustration. Yeah, those are two completely opposite things, I realize.

“Are you going to the pub for a pint?” “Nah, I quit drinking.” “Go way outta it, you loves da Guinness!”

6. Acting the maggot

Meaning something’s being disagreeable, upsetting. If someone’s acting the maggot, they’re being a jerk. “Jonny’s acting the maggot again.”

  • August 05 2014

    Ha ha, I love this! I think I’m going to try injecting some of these into my own vocabulary and see what happens. I’ve definitely heard of the craic before and I think it’s great!

  • August 05 2014

    We put ‘sure’ onto a lot of sentences for absolutely no reason. Just, well, for the craic of it.

    • August 05 2014

      Shor not sure! I’m grand shor!

  • August 05 2014

    Haha, awesome. I remember being totally confused by “your man” too.

  • August 05 2014

    What is this term of being a bit Peckish?

    • August 05 2014

      Hungry Matt. “I’m feeling a bit peckish” I’m feeling a bit hungry!

      • August 07 2014

        Yep! I’ve heard Australians use that one too, though.

  • August 05 2014

    hahaha hilarious!

  • August 06 2014

    Cool phrases :)

  • August 09 2014

    These are so wonderful. So funny that many phrases made it over to Newfoundland, but then stopped there.

    • August 10 2014

      I know eh? One evening I was at a bar with some people who spoke Irish gaelic, and one of them switched to English and used the word “b’y”. I nearly fell off my chair.

  • August 09 2014

    adding to my research for my Ireland presser next spring!!

  • August 14 2014

    Brilliant! Had no idea how to properly use “craic” in a sentence before I read this. Should probably throw a few of these into my vocab given my last name :)

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.