Dublin Slang

Dublin Slang

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If you're planning a trip to Dublin, Ireland you're most likely expecting a city rife with history, pubs, leprechauns, and emerald green. You may not be anticipating the challenge of deciphering Dublin slang. Lucky for you, I've come up with a cheat sheet that will give you a head start on learning the local lingo. Dublin natives tend to speak quickly, or so we perceive, so you'll have to pay close attention in order to keep up (not to worry – it gets easier with time). Keep this list handy and, after a few days, you should be able to translate Dublin slang to your native tongue with some success. You'll be ready to converse with English-speaking Dubliners or any leprechaun you might happen to meet.

1. Craic (Pronounced "crack")

This is one of those slang phrases Dublin newcomers find baffling at first. Come into the hostel after a long flight, start chatting with the desk clerk and she might ask you, "So how's the craic in [where ever you are from]?" Never having tried the crack back home, you might not know how to answer. Don't worry, though. She's not trying to get the lowdown on the drug scene where you're from; she just wants to know if it's a fun place. Are there good pubs, music, and people? Is it a place you'd go for a night out? In other words, "How's the craic?" is Dublin slang for "What's up?"

2. Offie (Pronounced "Off-ee")

When you get into town you might want to locate the nearest offie as soon as possible. Short for "off-license," these shops are the only places allowed to sell alcohol for take away. You can save a few quid if you stop by the offie for a few cans before you head out to the pub.

3. Local

Speaking of heading to the pub, if someone says "you'll find him at the local after work," you can be sure to find him perched on a stool at the pub nearest his home. As a visitor you won't have one, but it's a nice gesture to be invited to someone's local. The local is not a tourist's pub with loads of drunken visitors, but it will provide you with a pint and conversation – that's great craic, too! Regulars can also count on their local to let them in even when all pubs should legally be closed – either after hours or on one of the two dry days of the year, Good Friday and Christmas.

4. Gaff

This is local lingo for a Dublin flat, house, or other urban residence someone might call his or her home. If the guy you met at the pub wants you to come by his gaff you can be fairly certain that he's looking for more than another pint with you. Then again, a stop by a friend's gaff might turn into quite the session if a few more people come by.

5. Session or Sesh

One of my favorite slang phrases, this Dublin lingo means a long period of drinking with friends. If you're in for a good sesh with your mates, you're probably not looking to get pissed (very drunk), but it might end up that way. A good session involves copious amounts of drink and conversation, and if you're lucky someone will bring a guitar or have a lovely voice and you'll enjoy some music too. A good session in a quiet pub or someone's place beats a night out at the clubs, hands down.

6. Half Glass

Great local lingo for Dublin ladies to keep handy, a half glass is a half pint of beer. It's fine to order a half glass if you're out for a session with the boys and can't (or won't) drink as much as them. You don't have to be rude and turn down a round; instead get a half glass. A woman of a certain age wouldn't be caught dead with a full pint, but she just might get down two halves in the same amount of time her fella gets through his single pint.

7. Your man/your woman (Pronounced "yer man" and "yer woman")

These slang phrases are a Dublin native's way of saying "that guy" or "that girl" in friendly conversation. It does not mean "your man" or "your woman," as in your love interest or someone with whom you have any affiliation. For instance, sitting on a bench in Stephens Green watching people, you might turn to your mate with a chuckle and say, "Look at yer man over there eatin' the bread crumbs off the ground that yer woman threw down for the birds!"

"Your wan" is sometimes misunderstood by outsiders as being interchangeable with either "your man" or "your woman." It's actually the shortened version of "your woman" and only references a female. Don't get caught saying, "Ya know, yer wan, he was in that film" (pronounced fill-um). People will think you don't know the difference between a man and a woman.

8. Knacker

This term is Dublin slang for "a traveler," though said traveler might be found away from his/her caravan (trailer or camper), drunk and sprawled on the pavement in city centre. "Knacker" is a very derogatory term that implies the person is trashy, poor, drunk, and a traveler, even though the person might not actually be one. Travelers are a group of native Irish people who have no permanent home, live in caravans parked along roadsides and have a reputation for being criminals (think the Irish version of gypsies). You'd be well advised to watch over your shoulder when taking money from the ATM, as there's likely some knacker right behind you who will ask for some!

9. Fair play to ya! / Good on ya!

Meaning, "Well done!" these slang phrases are enthusiastic Dublin speak for recognizing a job well done. A friend might congratulate you on passing your exams by saying, "You studied for ages for that one. I knew you'd ace it. Fair play to ya!" This would most appropriately be followed by an invitation to the pub. You can then return the compliment if he's successful with a girl: "You got her number! Good on ya! Wait a day to ring her."

10. Fiver/Tenner

This is Dublin slang for a five-euro note and a ten-euro note, respectively. Be suspicious of anyone who starts the evening asking "Do ya have a tenner on ya to get this round? I'll stop by the drink link (ATM) before the next one, I swear." A fiver will get you a pint for yourself but not a round for the lads. Or if it's late in the evening, and it's your last bit of cash, a fiver will get you either a butty at the chipper (a sandwich of fries on a baguette at the fast food joint) or a ride on the Nitelink (a special late night only bus that leaves city centre Fridays and Saturdays to get the pub crowds home). Tough choice, indeed.

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