Like any good traveler, learning a few native words before landing is a good way to start a conversation with locals. In Ireland, it is all about the craic, and kicks in the eye are part of everyday chats.
Swearing is an essential component of the Irish culture and, every generation genuinely embraces this heritage. For years, the Church deprived its people from exteriorising their frustration by banning any type of outrage. Cursing became a new way to embody both religious detachment and freedom. What you believe is vulgar and offensive is actually poetic, engaging and creative.
Have an authentic experience of the Eire land, and practice the following 30 best Irish insults to know before visiting.
#1 Kiss my ass
Let us start our series with a straightforward response to boorishness: ‘Pog muh hone,’ written “Póg mo Thóin!” It is the most famous Irish insult and, all around the country, you will find t-shirts, mugs and key hangers with the Irish version of “kiss my ass” printed on. It is also the title of the polemical yet fascinating English/Irish slang dictionary.
Quirky fact: They were also the last words of Robert Gleason Jr, an Irish/American criminal, before his execution
#2 He Needs a Good Kick in the Arse!
“Cic Maith Sa Tóin Atá De Dlíth Air” is a way to express that a person lacks personality and only behaves to satisfy others. Uttered « kick mot sa hone ata dje dee air», it can also be translated as: “he needs a good kick in the bum” or “he needs to twig.”
#3 Isn’t she the b*tch?
This curse literally translates as “Nach í An Bitseach í.” Sounding like “knock e an vit shock e,” this turn of phrase is an implicit and deceitful manner to scorn someone. It is also an indirect way to get information on someone else’s intentions: “is she being bitchie?”
#4 Don’t Bullsh*t me!
A hard one to remember “Ná Bí Ag Iarraidh Cluain An Chacamais A Chur Orm” but if you do, you will impress a lot of locals! Transcribed as ‘naaa be ag era cloon a hawk-a-meesh a hurrr uram,’ it precisely implies: “Don’t be wanting to put the shit of the bull on me.”
#5 We are f*cked!
Transliterated “Toimid ee Son an Kakameesh aa Nesh,” it means ‘We are trapped in the crap’ and is a simple interpretation of “we are f*cked!” Although the Irish language has no word for “f*ck,” in this context, the previous translation is the closest to English.
If you are planning to watch a game in a pub and your team is losing, “Táimid i Sáinn an Chacamais Anois” is a good one to keep in mind. A little long? No one will blame you if you carry a crib in your pocket.
#6 I Don’t Give a F*ck!
‘Is cuma sa toll feisithe liomsa,” sounds as ‘Is coma saa toll feishi halomsa’ and is a swearing way to express your lack of interest.
#7 Go Sideways on Yourself!
“Gabh transna ort fhéin,” pronounced “Gof trass na orth hayn,” is a curse that is unique to Ireland. Literally translated as “going sideways on oneself”, it is the most resentful manner to tell someone to ‘go f*ck oneself.’
Two other friendlier approaches would be “Gabh suas ort fhéin,” ‘take up upon yourself’ or “Gabh síos ort fhéin,” ‘go down on yourself.’
#8 May Donkey Sh*t Be Upon You!
Comparing a human to an animal in Ireland is one of the nastiest things you can say. A donkey is probably the worst analogy (alongside an ape). “Cac asail ort,” rightly pronounced ‘Aa guess cak assole (‘asshole’ without H) urt (‘hurt’ without H)’ means ‘May donkey sh*t be upon you.’
Now, we let you imagine what it sounds like to hear such a thing in the Emerald Isle.
Let us make it simpler and focus on bad words instead of full sentences: “Ráicleach” uttered “Aa Raaak lock” mainly relates to cruel females and witches. Nowadays, it is also a way to describe a loose woman with controversial morals.
You would use “striapach,” pronounced ‘Aa streapock,’ to qualify someone as a ‘prostitute’ or more affectively a “whore.”
“Chacsmuitín” phonated “ahaak smuitjeen” describes a stupid person with a blabbermouth. A character who forces absurd and unsolicited conversations. Let just say that a gobshite will not be your first choice for an evening en tête-à-tête.
Here in Ireland, you can either say “ye bollix’ or “magarlach”(pronounced ‘magar lock”). It is a more sympathetic term to say ‘bullshit’ and the casual dialect for ‘nonsense.’ A friendly manner to show disbelief by mocking off. In Irish, it denotes something worthless or silly.
“You bollox” or “A mhagarlaich”(‘aa marga lee”) is also common and is an offensive, yet warm-hearted, phrase.
Usually used against an abhorrent and lout individual, “Bod!” is nicer to the ear. An angry Irish would say “níl tada níos measa na bód ina seasamh!” pronounced ‘Neil thhada knee smassa naa bod ina shassuv,’ literally ‘nothing is worse than a standing prick’. The more nonchalant you assert it; the biggest will be the impact.
Bodchlip (semi-silent ‘c’) è Pr*ck tease
Níl ann ach bodchlip í è She is nothing but a pr*ck tease
After “magarlach” and “bod,” “Buailteoir feola” (uttered ‘bull choir feola’) was a must. Used to define a fool, lazy and obnoxious man; it (hilariously) translates as ‘meat beater.’ I am pretty sure you don’t need an explanation. Indeed, it does all make sense.
Let us move from the men’s parts to the lady’s with another easy insult, “Aiteann”(‘Art zone”). A disgrace that translates to ‘furze.’ It is genuinely offensive towards Irish women (and others; except for Australia) and is kind of a stern version of “bod.”
You could also use “A smoaoiseachán” (enunciated ‘aa smuasse kan’) if you want to remain friend with the person you are actually biting! It implies ‘sniveller’ and is the Irish version of ‘snooty’.
“Cúl tóna,” pronounced “coool tone aa,” is the masculine equivalent of “Bhitseach.” These words define an idiotic and deeply annoying person. In Ireland, it also describes someone thinking with his male genitals instead of his brain. “Dickhead” would be another right translation.
“Níl ann ach cúl tóna é,” transcribed ‘Nil an ack cool tone aa ey” è ‘He’s just a dickhead.’
“Is Cúl Tóna cruthanta (silent ‘t’) ey” è ‘He’s an absolute dickhead.’
“A Bastaird,” pronounced “a washtard”, this kick in the eye obviously means “a bastard.” For those unaware of the meaning, this designation defines a malicious, insensitive and despicable persona. It is also a suitable nickname for someone you would dislike.
You will also hear or read:
“A bhastaird bhreall ghnúisigh” (vocalised “wrealghnuisi”) è “You cunt faced bastard.”
“A basthaird mór” è “You big bastard,” not to confuse with “You big bastards” (that invokes large bosoms!).
Primarily used to describe an unscrupulous and corrupted business man, a “gaimbín” is a curse typical to Ireland. The wheeler-dealers were the first people called this way. When the Great Famine occurred, the pernicious local merchants turned into gombeens as well. Indeed, they made a lot of earnings on the starving community selling food at extortionate loans. Today, its signification evolved as it depicts anyone making profit at someone else’s expenses.
Originated in the ‘60s, a gobdaw portrayed an ingenious soul. Nowadays, the Irish slang ‘gabhdán’ characterises a pretentious fool. Gobdaw is a more delicate manner to call somebody a gobshite.
A more charming word for f*cker. This general insult became internationally famous thanks to the abusive and hard-core boozer Father Jack Hackett. He is one of the main characters of Father Ted, one of the best TV shows ever created in Ireland. A fecker would mostly get away with murder.
#20 Eejit, a Double Gowl
The word ‘eejit’ is an evolution of the 1950’s English ‘Eediot.” With time, Scottish and Irish accents changed its audible resonance. This is why its transcription derived and grew to its modern form. A gowl is what we could compare as a careless and clumsy moron. In Ireland, an eejit is a complete gowl. It is never really used for aggressive means but is more of a derisive name.
From the adorable “dope” to the harsher ‘donkey’, Irish have over a dozen labels to call someone an idiot.
This word can be used for both lovable and hateful contexts. When ‘cute’ precedes ‘hoor,’ it endearingly characterises a sly rascal. However, when used on its own, it grimly compares a woman to a harlot. Another word for ‘whore’ basically.
The designation ‘Hussy’ rose from the contraction from ‘housewife’ to ‘huswif.’ In the 17th century, the meaning took a drastic turn. Since then, it tags promiscuous and shameless women who love to flirt around, lack morals and make troubles. The closest English translation would be a ‘tart’ or a ‘sl*t.’
A scut is how most of Ireland labels a ‘piece of sh*te”. It said that its etymology comes from the shorter version of the English ‘scutter,’ the laziest person ever. Scuts also relates to a soft excretion. In other regions of the country, it has a much courteous connotation as it describes a naughty kid.
In English, a wagon portrays a female with generous buttocks. In Ireland though, it is a curse toward detestable and antipathetic people (usually women). This term is also used to degrade female’s physical appearance as per “Better gimme another pint. She still looks like a wagon!” Shtate, on its side, is a rougher variant of ‘wagon’ as it asserts a misanthropic aversion.
#25 A tool
According to the Urban Dictionary, a ‘tool’ is “That guy who makes us shake our head in disbelief but at the same time makes us feel better about ourselves since we are not him”. It is also “Someone whose ego FAR exceeds his talent, intelligence, and likeability.” A tool is fundamentally the meanest form of a prick.
The word bastūn comes from the Latin ‘bastum’: stick. It was initially the name of a whip made of natural bundle (ouch!). It then referred to vulnerable and apathetic identities. Today, its written form derived into Bosthoon, and its meaning points out coarse and thick personas.
In the 17th century, a jack(e) was the standard label for loathsome men. “īn,” a Gaelic diminutive, has been added later in time. Jackeen/jackīn stands for ‘little jack,” and is literally a dual insult. It is also how Irish call Dubliners.
This one might ring a bell! Kern is indeed an English disgrace with Irish origins. Its etymology comes from ‘Cethern,’ which used to refer to a group of walking militaries. These infantrymen generally came from the countryside and were perceived as uncivilised and surly. ‘Kern’ has both a derogatory and endearment usage. Depending on your tone, ‘kern’ can qualify someone as a “badass” as much as a “pain in the arse.”
This degrading word described a rustic and boor character. Often used as an offence towards old men, it is pronounced ‘bod aakk’ and, literally means ‘serf’ (a medieval term for peasant). In the 20th century, Yeats and Scotts, two famous Irish playwrights and novelists, borrowed the word ‘bodach’ to illustrate a ‘bogeyman’: a mysterious and evil monster who punishes bad children.
Since then, the word acquired a more affectionate signification. The feminine alternative would be ‘cailleach,’ a ‘biddy.’
In the 18th century, Irish would employ ‘slaba’ as a mean for ‘muddy land’ and ‘mire.’ The designation obtained its current form (slob) and interpretation a few decades later. It pictures a lazy, rude and unhygienic person, regardless of the gender. It does not always have a debasing use though, as it also a way to portray an ordinary being.
Some Classic Irish Curses
Irish curses are known for being uproarious, pernicious and poetic. The following list will both make you snigger and bring you out in goose bumps.
- You’re as thick as manure but only half as useful
- If there were work on your bed, you’d lie on the ground
- I hope you die without a priest in a town with no clergy
- Your face would drive rats from a barn
- I wish you to have red diarrhoea
- You were so ugly when you were born that the nurse slapped your mother
- You’re as sharp as a beach ball
- I never forget an Irish face, but in your case, I’ll make an exception
- May the cat eat you, and the devil eat the cat
- The tide would not take her out
More Irish Insults:
If the previous list wasn’t exhaustive enough, here are a short table of more ‘F’ words:
|F*ck it||Pleód air||Aa plaud air|
|F*ck you||Feisigh leat||Fish E laat|
|F*ck off||Téigh dtí diabhail||Kei dji-dji wol|
|Don’t f*ck with me||Ná smaoinigh fuíoll feisithe a dhéanamh diomsa||Naa smweeny foil feish aa yeanam djemza|
|F*ck off, you fat arse (literally ‘Go to the devil, big bum’)||Téigh dtí diabhail, a thóin mór||Kei dji-dji wol, aa hoin more|