10 words you really should know before you study English in Ireland

Every week at City Langauge School we post our World of English posts to Instagram. These are expressions and words taken from the many different English-speaking corners of the world. We give a quick explainer of their meaning and show you an example of what we mean. They come from places as far away as South Africa and as close to home as Scotland but all are quite unique to their own countries and have many different roots.

Of course Ireland is no different and we even have our own version of English called Hiberno-English. Don’t worry, it is not hugely different from the so-called standard but there are some words it might be worth knowing before you came to study with us at City Language School Dublin. Here are just a few.

eejit
An obvious one to begin with. This word is so common in Ireland that if you haven’t heard it, you must be one. Eejit is the Hiberno-English for idiot and in all likelihood comes from a mispronunciation of that word.
That man is an eejit.
It’s often used with the adjective awful in front of it to give it more potency.
That man is an awful eejit

deadly (adj.)

In Dublin and elsewhere the term deadly is used to express something positive. It\’s more or less the same as cool.
How was last night? Oh it was bleedin\’ deadly man!

age 

For years, anytime I asked a student “What age are you?” I was confused when I was met with a blank expression. I have met Advanced speakers who did not know what “What age are you?” meant and now I understand the reason. It is not used in Standard English. This is another Hiberno English expression that comes from Irish.

Cén aois tú = What age are you?

So if you here this just think to yourself: “How old are you?”

Then again ‘old’ makes you sound….old.

amn’t 

This is one of the all time great sayings of Hiberno-English, amn’t. Standard English doesn’t like this at all, at all  preferring to use the construction I’m not for negative answers and aren’t I in question tags

Have a gander at these…

I’m not going to the gym.

I am meeting you later, amn’t I?

Hiberno English uses I amn’t for negative answers and amn’t I in question tags.

Have a gander at these…

I amn’t going to the gym

I am meeting you in Dicey’s later, amn’t I?

craic

This is an Irish word whihc has made it into English and is not going anywhere anytime soon. Roughly translated craic means ‘fun.

It was great craic = It was great fun

But you can also use it to ask how someone is.

What’s the craic? = What’s happening with you? How are you?

banjaxed (adj.)

A wonderful Hiberno-English phrase. According to Terence Patrick Dolan’s, A Dictionary of Hiberno-English, the origin of this word are obscure. There is some suggestion that it comes from a combination of ‘bang’ and ‘smash’. Whatever its root, it is a well-known and much loved word in Ireland.

So what does it mean?

A good question. The basic meaning is ruined or unfit but because those expressions have so many meaning themselves it can mean lots of things.

The car is banjaxed. = The car is in disrepair (in a big way)
I’ve had a long day. I’m banjaxed. = I’m very tired.
Look at the state of your man. He’s banjaxed so he is. = Feeling unwell (probably due to excess of some sort)
Your washing machine is banjaxed. You’ll have to get a new one = It’s broken beyond repair

crisps

This is very important. In Ireland french fries are called chips and chips are crisps.

In a takeaway you order chips and Tayto are a brand of crisps.

chips

See above

Go’way/Go ‘way outta that

When you hear this don’t be offended. The person is saying go away but they don’t want you to leave. They just ‘can’t believe’ what you’re saying or what you’re saying is a little shocking and they want to express their surprise.

“I saw Madonna on Grafton Street yesterday!”

“Go ‘way outta that!”

fiver/tenner

Not unique to Ireland perhaps but something you need to know.

fiver = five euro

tenner = ten euro

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