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Common Irish sayings and their meanings

Holding a conversation in Ireland is different than in any other place in the world. Irish people have a unique and special way of communicating with one of another. Anyone who has ever visited Ireland or knows any Irish people will tell you that we have a distinct and fun relationship with the English language. Below are a few examples of common Irish sayings and their meanings…

What’s the craic?
When you meet someone in Ireland they’ll say "What's the craic?" or “How’s the craic?”, which basically means “how are you?”. “Any craic?” generally means "any gossip?".

Divil a bit
A typical response to “what’s the craic?” would be “divil a bit” which really means “not much” or “nothing new”.

So if you ask an Irish person how they are or if they are happy with something, a very common response would be “ah grand” which means everything is fine or something is just okay.

Happy out
If you are having a good time or things are going well, then an Irish person may say that they are “happy out”. It basically means they are content and happy.

What’s the story?
When Irish people meet up they’ll say, “what’s the story?”, which is another way of saying “hello” or “what’s happening?”.

“You put the heart across me”
If you spook or accidentally frighten an Irish person and they say “you put the heart across me”, they really mean that you took them by surprise.

“Now we’re sucking diesel”
In Ireland, a person may say “now we’re sucking diesel” when things start to go right or when things get back on track.
Acting the maggot
If you say to someone “stop acting the maggot” it means stop messing around, acting silly or making a fool of yourself. You could also say “cop on” to them which also means stop “acting the maggot”!
Sure you know yourself
This saying tends to be used in answer to a question. So for example, if you were asked “what do you think?”, you could reply “sure you know yourself”. It’s often used to avoid long explanations or if you want to avoid giving an opinion.
Away with the fairies
So if someone refers to another as “away with the fairies”, it means that they’re not on the same wavelength as you or that they have their head up in the clouds.
The state o’ya!
Irish people use this term when they are referring to how someone is dressed or how they’re acting. For example, if someone entered a room after being soaked outside in the rain, you might remark “the state o’ya!”.
In Ireland if something is awful or not going well it can be referred to as “brutal”. For instance, I had a “brutal” day or the weather is “brutal”.

The word “eejit” is probably the most recognised Irish phrase. The word is used when someone is being foolish or silly. Stop acting “the eejit” which means stop messing around.

Taking a hand
If you are “taking a hand” at someone, it means you are making a joke at their expense. For instance if someone makes fun of you, then you might say “are you taking a hand at me”?

Try a few of the above sayings yourself with family and friends and see if they know what you are talking about. It'll be a "bit of craic" which means you'll have fun with it! 

Posted: 01 Sep 2020 by Claire Regan | with 2 comments

Tags: Irish Sayings

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