The Northern Irish have a peculiar, yet endearing, turn of phrase. Of course, most of our phrases and sayings come from the Ulster Scots dialect, although not exclusively. Each area of the province has it’s own colloquialisms and idioms; what’s said in Co. Antrim may be confusing for those in Co. Fermangh. And when these culchies come on up till the big city, they are then confronted with how themuns in Belfast spake!
For visitors to our wee country, this can be particularly confusing! Having my Norn Iron T-shirts stall on St Georges market, I’m on the front line when it comes to baffled tourists. There’s not a weekend goes by, that I do not find myself explaining what “the craic” is to a US visitor. During last year’s World Police and Fire Games, when I offered an LAPD officer a Craic Addict t-shirt, he wasn’t having it! In fact, he was quite offended that I would even suggest he would even take crack! Oh boys a dear! At least our Canadians and Australian muckers get it! There’s been many a time I’ve witnessed foreign visitors furiously thumbing through their English/whatever language phrase books looking for a meaning, and not finding it! Then asking confusedly in broken English, “What is a Dirty Wee Hallion?”.
So here it is, the Norn Iron T-Shirts guide fer how till spake praper!
A pace – at peace – to quietly sit still “would yousuns sit a pace!”
A face only a mother could love – ugly
A face like a baten bear – ugly
A face like a busted bun – ugly
A wee cup a tae in yer han – a cup of tea
A wee drap a tae in yer han – a cup of tea – the cup is not optional in reality but it is in speaking
Afeard – scared
Affronted – offended
Ah – me
Ah could see ye far enough – you are driving me crazy
Ah coulda ate the arse af a baby through the cot bars – i was really hungry
Ah way – a wee – a little bit
Ah way on! – go away
Ah wouldn’t give him the skin a ma skitter! – I wouldn’t give him anything – look up skitter to see just how rude this one is…
Ah’ll gee ya a slap in the kite – i shall slap your face
Ah’ll knack yer ballax in – i will beat you senseless
alright? – hello
All the best! – good bye!
Amptnah? – aren’t i?
Any more of this and there’ll be less of it! – stop it or else!
Are ye away? – are you leaving?
Are ye deef? – are you finding it hard to hear me?
Are ye gettin’? – are you being served?
Are yer havin’ a laugh? – are you kidding?
Arse – bottom
Article – a person you don’t like
As rough as a badger’s backside – less than sophistocated
As tight as a duck’s backside – mean with money
Away in the head – stupid
Away on! – you’re kidding!
Away ta fuck – oh come on now, you don’t mean that! or go away please
Awful – very “thon wee fella’s awful nice!”
A wee want – a person who is not very bright
Aye – yes
Aul fella – an older man/ your father/your husband “wheres the aul fella today?
Aye yer ma! – Whatever
Bad wee rip – a person with a bad reputation
Bake – face or mouth
Bakebook – Facebook
Ballix – nonsense
Balloon – a fool
Baltic – to be really cold
Banjaxed – broken
Bap – bread roll or your head
Barred – a death sentence as it means you are not allowed in the bar
Bate – to beat something
Beezer! – great!
Beg – a bag
Big Lawd – man
Big mawn – man
Blade – a young person up to no good.
Bladdered – drunk
Blocked – drunk
Blootered – drunk
Blurt – rude young man
Boggin’ – a filthy mess
Boke – vomit
Boney – a bonfire
Bout ye! – Hello, how are you today?
Boys a dear – oh my word!
Brave – quite large/good
Brew – unemployment benefit
Brutal – shocking
Buck eejit – a mad idiot “Yer man’s a buck eejit!”
Calm yer knickers – calm down
Cap shap – Police station
Catch yerself on! – wise up!
Catch yer head on! – wise up!
Champ – mashed potatoes with scallions
Chancer – someone trying to con
Cheeky wee get – cheeky chap
Chile – a child
Childers – children
Chippers – fish and chip shop
Clampit – idiot
Clarty – unclean/disgusting
Class – great/good
Cool yer jets – calm down
Coddin’ – joking
Craic – (prononuced crack) – to have good fun or a good time
Cracker – good
Critter – creature/person
Culchie – someone who from the countryside
Curly bap – curly hair
Cut – drunk
Dander – walk
Dead on – everything is good
Deadly – difficult
Deef – deaf “are yousens deef or what?”
Desperate – very bad
Diddies – large breasts
Dig – to punch “A’ll give you a dig in the bake”
Dine – down
Dirty wee hallion – a cheeky or rude rascal. Can apply to 10 year old boys or randy 50 year men.
Do ye think i came up the Lagain/Bann/foyle in a bubble? – Do you think i was born yesterday?
Does yer head in – drives you crazy/up the wall
Doesn’t know his arse from his elbow – he doesn’t know what he is talking about
Dog’s ballix – a show off
Dog’s dinner – a mess
Doll – woman
Dote – cute/adorable “thon chile is a wee dote”
Doin’ a line – to go out with someone romantically “yer woman offa the news is doin’ a line with the weather man””
Doin’ the double – to claim unemployment benefit whilst working
Doorsteps – thickly cut sandwich
Dour – miserable
Drooth – to be thirsty “I’ve a while drooth on me”
Dry yer eyes – stop crying/whinging
Eejit – affectionate term for an idiot
Face like a lugan spade – long face
Face like a bulldog chewing a wasp – very ugly
Face like a well skelped arse – slapped face
Fally – to follow
Feg – a cigarette
Fell down the ugly tree and didn’t miss a branch – very ugly
Ferfeckssake! – oh for goodness sake!
Fillum – a film
Flur – floor
Footering – to fiddle with something “Wheres yer da? He’s in the garage footering with the lawn mower”
Forlorn – pitiful
Fur coat, no knickers – all show
Ganch – an argumentative person
Geg – joke or funny
Get ‘er bucked! – to get stuck in. to have sex
Getawaytafuk! – no way!
Get on the Googles – to use a search engine
Give ma head peace – leave me alone
Give us a buck at ye! – I would like to take you home and make love to you.
Give out – complain or scold
Grand – everything is fine/good
Gulder – shouting
Gurn – to cry or complain
Gutted – disappointed
Gutties – trainers/running shoes
Half cut – half drunk
Hallion – a rascal, someone up to no good
Hammered – drunk
Happy Days! – everything is good
Header – a fool “yer mans a header, so he is!”
Head staggers – A fit of petty annoyance, to huff
Head the ball – a fool
Hectic – mad/crazy
Heel – the thick end of a loaf
Hoke – to search “hoke about in my beg fer my keys”
Hoop – your bottom “I slipped on the ice and fell on ma hoop!”
Hot press – airing cupboard
Hoods – criminal/delinquent
Houl on – wait/hold on
Houl yer horses – wait/hold on
How’s it cuttin’? – how are you?
I tell a lie! – i stand corrected
If your mother was still alive that would kill her! – that wasn’t a nice thing to do!
If God spares me – if i am still alive or if God permits
I’ll do you in! – I’ll kill you!
Is that you? – are you finished?
Jawbox – kitchen sink
Jeepers! – an exclamation
Kebs- feet “My da has smelly kebs”
Keep ‘er lit! – Keep in there, keep going
Keks – trousers or underwear depending on your mood
Knock it inta ya! – eat up! or drink up!
Knock that down ye – eat up! or drink up!
Lamped – hit/punched
Lifted – arrested “oer wee fella was lifted by the peelers last night”
Look at the bake on her! – look at her face!
Looper – idiot
lug – ear
lug ole – ear hole
Mad – hectic
magic – good/great
melt – can mean head/shit/whatever is appropriate – “I’ll knock yer melt in!”
Messages – shopping
Millie / millbeg – a girl from a working class area
Mingin’ – dirty/messy/horrible
Minerals – fizzy drink (not water)
Mitch – to play truant from school
Mooncat – not wise
Monks – male underwear
More power to yer elbow – good luck to you
Mucker – friend
Mustard – troublesome “He’s mustard so he is!”
Nay bor – no problem
nice one! – well done!
Nigh – now
Norn Iron – Northern Ireland
Numpty – a fool
Oxsters – armpits
Pan loaf – regular bread as opposed to “plain loaf” which is slightly coarser and much better
parful – powerful
Pastie – minced pork with mashed potato shaped into a patty and battered then deep fried
Peelers – the police
Piece – a sandwich
Piece box – sandwich box
Pishin’ down – raining heavily
Pished – drunk
Poke – ice cream cone
Pole axed – drunk
Praper – proper
Quare – a large amount
Quit yer yackin’ – stop moaning
Rake – to speed
Ride – a sexy person “yer wee man’s a pure ride!”
Ride – sex
Round – slice of bread
Sammige – sandwich
Sangwich – sandwich
Saunter – walk away from me
Says I – i said
Says I to her – i said to her
Schuck – ditch at side of road
Shappin’ – shopping
Shrapnel – coins
Scullery – the working kitchen
Scundered – embarrassed
Scunnered – tired
Shar – shower
Shut yer bake! – shut up!
Sicken ye – that would annoy you
Signed – sound
Skelpt – slapped
Skitter – a cheeky young person
Slabber – to talk rubbish
Slap it up ye! – serves you right!
Sleekit – sneaky
Smoother – Steam iron
Some pup – clever person
sound – nice “he’s sound”
Spacer / space cadet – an idiot
Spide – a male townie
spoofin’ – lying
spoon – silly person
Spuds – potatoes
Steaming – drunk
stickin’ out – this is good
Stocious – drunk
Suckin’ diesel – to be powered up and ready for action
Swally – to drink
Tarbil – terrible as in very
There you are now – a phrase used when something is over or finished.
Themuns – those other people “themuns get everything an we get nothin’!”
thick as champ – stupid
Thon – that
Thran – stubborn
Throughother – disorganised, a mess
Thunderplump – a thunderstorm
Ticket – to be full of ones self-importance
Till – to
Titter of wit – sensible
Tout – to report someone “themuns touted my up till the peelers”
Trail – to pull
Tube – idiot
Undercrackers – underwear
Up to high doe – worried/stressed out
Upcaste – to bring up the past
Waste of space – a person not worth bothering with
We’an – wee one – a child
Wee – little – goes in front of everything and anything – has nothing to do with size!
wee buns – easy
Wee doll – girl
Weeker! – brilliant!
weemin – women
Wee drap in yer han – cup of tea
Wee want – to be intellectually challenged
Well there you are now – a phrase to signify that something has come to an end or has finished.
Wet the babies head – go out to celebrate the birth of a baby
What’s the craic? – what’s happening?
Whataboutye! – How are you doing this fine day?
While – wild
wick – not good
Wind yer neck in – Shut up and calm down
Windie – window
Wired up till the moon – deranged
Wise up! – Behave
Wise the bap! – Wise up
X-ee O -Zees – Naughts and crosses
Yer – your
Yer aul arse – you are talking utter rubbish
Yer head’s a marley! – your head is a marble – as in you have no brains my dear friend
Yer head’s full of wee sweetie mice – you are daft
Yer da! – your father!
Yer ma! – your mother!
Yer ma’s yer da! – very insulting
Yon – that
Youse – you
Youse gettin’? – are you getting served?
Yousens – you other people
Well, there you are now!
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