25 Irish Slang Terms You Should Know

Lukas Bischoff/ iStock via Getty Images Plus
Lukas Bischoff/ iStock via Getty Images Plus

People in Ireland speak English, but not exactly the "Queen’s English." With a little help from the Gaelic language—called Irish—the populace of the Emerald Isle have devised their very own collection of weird and wonderful words and phrases. Here are a few Irish colloquialisms to help you understand the next person you meet from Derry, Dublin, or Donegal.

1. Craic

Craic is pronounced “crack,” and it means general banter or fun. Originally it was spelled crack when it was used by Ulster Scots. The Gaelic spelling of the word was not widely used in Ireland until it was popularized as the catchphrase in the Irish-language TV show SBB ina Shuí starting in the 1970s.

2. Wee

This term is used to describe something or someone who is very small.

3. Wean

Pronounced "wayne," this word means child.

4. Lethal or Leefs

These terms are mainly used northwestern Ireland, and both mean “great.” And leefs is also short for lethal.

5. Quare

Pronounced "kware,” this odd-looking word can be used in a variety of ways to mean great, very, and terrific.

6. Feck off

Quite possibly Ireland’s greatest linguistic achievement, this phrase is the perfect way to curse without technically cursing. Replace the e with a u, and you have what this slang term means.

7. Dooter

A short, or wee (see above), walk.

8. Saunter

This term refers to a slightly brisker walk that’s almost a strut, but with less self-confidence.

9. Aye and Naw

You can say aye for yes and naw for no.

10. Yes

While it might be confusing, yes means hello.

11. Lashing

This term means it’s raining heavily. For example, if it’s lashing rain, you may want to just stay inside.

12. Slag

This word is used as a verb and it means to make a joke at someone else’s expense

13. Wired to the moon

You know that feeling you get when you’ve enjoyed a fairly big Tuesday night in a club, and then stumble into work the next morning after downing six espresso shots at the nearest Starbucks? That’s what some might call being wired to the moon.

14. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

When it comes to blasphemy, there are no half measures in Ireland. As a historically religious country, blasphemy is relatively frowned upon, so when an Irish person deems it absolutely necessary to take the Lord’s name in vain, they use the entire holy family.

15. Cat

You can use this word to say something is bad or awful. According to Ireland Calling it’s most likely short for the phrase “cat on a melodeon.” A melodeon is a small organ, so we can imagine a feline walking across one would not sound that great.

16. Brock

You can also use this word to describe something that’s bad.

17. Eejit

According to Claddagh Design, you can use this term to describe someone as an idiot, but in an affectionate sort of way.

18.While man/woman

Again, another term to describe a person who isn’t so bright.

19. Melter

Yet another way to describe a person who is a bit of an idiot, or at least very annoying.

20. Haven’t a baldy notion

If you’re looking for a new way to say “I have no idea,” try this phrase on for size.

21. Wind your neck in

The perfect way to take someone who is overly arrogant down a peg or two? Tell them to wind their neck in. It basically means “be quiet!”

22. Yonks

This means a long time.

23. Bake

This is a word for face.

24. Juke

A quick, or wee, look.

25. All lured

Another way to say you’re feeling delighted.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

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4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Seniors in a North Carolina Assisted Living Facility Are Looking for Pen Pals

Seniors in nursing homes are hoping to develop new friendships with pen pals.
Seniors in nursing homes are hoping to develop new friendships with pen pals.
MichaelShivers/iStock via Getty Images

Although coronavirus still holds many mysteries for the researchers working to understand it, one thing is certain: Older populations, particularly those in group living facilities, are at high risk of serious complications. Assisted living facilities around the country have largely shied away from allowing visitors, which means residents have little contact with anyone beyond staff.

Victorian Senior Care in North Carolina is looking to change that the old-fashioned way. They’re soliciting pen pals for their residents.

The facility, which has several locations throughout the state, has set up a program for residents looking to correspond with someone. Each person has a photo profile listing their name and interests. Enjoy video games? Then you might like exchanging letters with Robert at The Living Center of Concord. Know about farming and heavy farm equipment? Mr. Tom at The Village of Kingston is your man. Don’t mind an old rascal? Check out Leon at Montgomery Village, who likes “shag dancing” and “loves girls.”

You can find dozens more seniors who have a lot of life experience to share on the Victorian Care Center’s pen pal page. The program is already a success, with over 15,000 letters received to date. One location is even at letter capacity, as all the seniors looking for a new friend at their Phoenix Assisted Care location have a full dance card.

Other care facilities throughout the country are also hoping to match residents with pen pals. Ridgecrest Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Forney, Texas, has resident profiles on their Facebook page:

None of these facilities are offering email addresses, which means you’ll have to correspond like pen pals did for centuries—with pen and paper.

[h/t Victorian Senior Care]