How To Speak Irish Like You Were Raised By A Leprechaun

irishOne of the really fun things about spending time with and getting to know someone from another country is learning all the interesting quirks about her language.

One would think that The Sweet Irish Girl would speak English properly since Ireland is so close to England, but apparently, her people speak a version of it that is peculiar and sometimes difficult to understand.

Thankfully, she says it all in this adorable accent that just makes it sound like the words are tickling my ears.

I have been doing my best to learn how to translate her intriguing turns of phrase so that the words go in one ear Irish and come out the other in American.

Despite my amazing efforts to improve international relations between our nations, The Sweet Irish Girl did admit this morning that she sometimes curses at me in Gaelic when I’m being difficult.

Even more reason to learn her language!

Since I want to help her feel more at home, I took her to lunch yesterday at an Irish pub.  The photos in this post are from that visit.

Are you ready for some language lessons, Modern Philosophers?

Paddy 1Having the craic.  This is one of my favorite phrases, and the one I hear most often.  Craic is pronounced “crack”, and the term basically means she is teasing me, making a joke, or having fun.

So The Sweet Irish Girl will say something that sounds like she is picking on me, but then she follows it with “I’m just having the craic with you, babe” and all is well (or so she thinks!)

It helps that she says it in that brogue and smiles at me sweetly.  It seems to be the American equivalent of ripping on someone and then adding “just joking”.

Giving out.  According to my sources within the Emerald Isle, this is something I do way too often.  It means picking on her, complaining about something, or scolding.

Hey, I can’t help it if she was raised by Leprechauns in the clover laden countryside and doesn’t know that the recycling going in one bin (another of her terms) and the trash goes in another.

Plus, shouldn’t I “give out” in the name of all that is holy when The Sweet Irish Girl tries to tell me that football is actually that boring game we refer to as soccer?

Paddy 2Getting the shift.  This was definitely my favorite Irish term to learn, and I have asked The Sweet Irish Girl to go over it with me repeatedly because stupid American that I am, I keep forgetting what it means.

Plus, I am a much more hands on and visual learner when it comes to languages.

And I really wanted to get this one just right.  What can I say, Modern Philosophers?  I’m a perfectionist.

For the record, “getting the shift” is the Irish version of making out or macking (which sounds Irish!).

They’re only cookies if they have chocolate chips.  Otherwise, they are biscuits!  Let’s just say our first trip to the grocery store (aka “the shop”) was a bit confusing.  The Sweet Irish Girl would tell me she was looking for something, and I would either be totally clueless as to the identity of the item in question, or I would bring her the American version of that term.

Case in point: biscuits.  I brought her the fluffy bread product that Americans slather with butter and eat while they wait for their dinner to be served in a restaurant.  She, however, was looking for cookies.

Just so you know, Oreos are biscuits because they don’t have chocolate chips.  This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for Oreos to become a huge hit in Ireland and America with their new Chocolate Chip Double Stuffed Oreos!

Paddy 3How’s she cuttin’?  Apparently, this is a “culchie” thing (“culchie” is someone who lives in the country outside of Dublin).  Sounds like a hick or a hillbilly to me, but The Sweet Irish Girl assures me that is very offensive.  I settled her down by giving her a biscuit.

As for the phrase itself, it surprisingly has nothing to do with knives or any other form of cutlery.  It simply means “How are you?” or “How’s it going?”

Stop acting the maggot!  I was afraid to even guess on this one, as I thought that St. Paddy had driven all the snakes and maggots out of Ireland!

I have been told, though, that this intriguing term means “stop messing around” or “behave”.  I wish Austin Powers had said “Stop acting the maggot!” rather than “Oh, behave!”, but he is English, and apparently Ireland and England are two separate countries.  Who knew?

Calm down, Modern Philosophers, I’m just having the craic with you!

What time do you make it?  It’s half four.  The first time The Sweet Irish Girl asked me what time I made it, I totally thought I had missed part of the conversation and bought some time as I desperately tried to figure out what I was supposed to be making.

Turns out, she just wanted to know what time it was.

When it’s thirty minutes past the hour, such as 4:30, she says it’s half four.  Which, technically, is two, but I’m not going to argue.

If I do, I don’t get the shift.

Paddy 4I’m pissed.  Now this is a term with which I am extremely familiar.  People, especially the women in my life, always seem to be pissed at me.

I just have this gift it seems, Modern Philosophers, for upsetting people and pissing them off.

However, when The Sweet Irish Girl tells me she’s pissed, it doesn’t mean she’s mad at me.  Hurrah!

In Ireland, “I’m pissed” means I’m drunk, I’m wasted, I’m sloshed, I’m half in the bag, I’m three sheets to the wind, etc.

So for once, it’s a good thing when the woman in my life is pissed.  Because that means she won’t remember if I end up giving out.

Hope that helps.  She is shouting something at me in As Gaeilge right now, so she’s either really upset at, or thinks I’m super charming and witty.

Which reminds me of one last Irish phrase the Sweet Irish Girl says most often…

Austin, you’re so sweet, handsome, and amazing.  How did I ever live without you?  What am I going to do when I go back to the motherland and am surrounded only by Leprechauns and culchies?  I don’t really think this one needs translating, does it?

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Dating, Humor, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to How To Speak Irish Like You Were Raised By A Leprechaun

  1. nolanwrites says:

    I’m from Ireland and I use “I’m having the craic with you” all the time. Glad to see you’re having fun with your visitor. Loving the posts Austin!

  2. gh0stpupp3t says:

    Craic also means party. And yes, pissed means you are wasted. 🙂

  3. Loved this piece as I am an Irish lass……

  4. Perfectionists “give out” a lot. Your Sweet Irish Girl must have a lovely temperament.

  5. Reblogged this on IdealisticRebel's Daily View of Favorites and commented:
    Wonderful post. Hugs, Barbara

  6. We use ‘pissed’ in the same sense as the Irish do, here in NZ. (‘Pissed as a newt’ – though why newts get picked on for the metaphor is a mystery. They don’t drink beer…)

  7. I completely agree with your sweet Irish girl in saying that it’s only cookies if they have chocolate chips. I somehow have this strong preference for chocolate chip cookies and I won’t eat any other kind of cookie. Anyways thanks for the info, I’ll keep it in mind for when I visit Ireland one day. Oh and cheers to you while I get pissed off with cheep red wine!

  8. Soccer is not boring, what we call football sometimes is. Pissed and biscuit are also English, which I only know from reading books by English authors and watching movies. I’m glad you found a nice girlfriend.

  9. Gotta love the Irish accent, too! 😊

  10. Pamela says:

    Good Luck with the Gaelic Austin , it is handy when one wants to express their displeasure lol ! Glad you and the Irish lass are enjoying yourselves !

  11. This is actually helpful because I’m working on a screenplay for a tv show right now, and one of the characters is Irish.

  12. stomperdad says:

    Reblogged this on All In A Dad's Work and commented:
    I know a couple Leprechauns, but I can’t talk like them.

  13. jaypochapin says:


    So pleased to learn you’re on the rebound! The young lady sounds like a keeper! So very pleased for you both!!

    All best,


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