Guest sayings

Maddie (Ireland): I'm like the wreck of the Hesperus = you're a mess (the Hesperus was a shipwreck)

Wind yer neck in = calm down, stop shouting / showing off

I wouldn't call the Queen my aunt = you're perfectly content

He's as Irish as McGonigall's pigs = he's very Irish!

Pogue Mahoney (Ireland): He's as thick as gick = not very intelligent

Tony Ward From Dublin (now in Sussex, England): Yer man is locked = he is drunk


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SAYINGS (continued)

  • "He went ballistic!" = he lost his temper (big time)!
  • They're as thick as thieves" = They are extremely close, as in a business partnership. It is sometimes used to identify a pair of rogues but the 'thick' does not infer stupidity.
  • "It's/SUBJECT beyond the pale". This is an historical saying, referring to the description by the English for Dublin's boundary, the Pale (from the French word for fence). The phrase usually refers to something uncivilized!
  • "Well, I had one too, but the wheels fell off!" [said to your pal in response to hearing a foreign language whe don't understand it!]. Many thanks to Chris O'Dania for that!
  • "The face o' that the price of marg...!" [A response to your friend when you see a look of amazement on someone else. 'Marg' = margerine, an expensive item when this saying came into use!


MEANINGS (with an example of spoken usage) 11 April 2015

  • Transistor = radio (see below). Name originates in one of its components; often used from the 1960s onwards to describe teenagers carrying portable radios blaring pop music
  • Wireless = radio. The term must be at least 70 years old and I don't know of any such apparatus without wires!
  • big wigs = important people, dignatories, sometimes with inflated egos! The term probably originates from the 18th century where the richest wore effusive wigs. Irish people might prepare for them by taking out a tin of paint, getting a new suit (or boiler suit), and generally smartening up things.
  • jalopie = ancient vehicle, usually an old car, owned by an elderly man or lady. "Did you see yer man in his old jalopie"? Also see 'banger' below.
  • banger = firework (firecracker), old or cheap secondhand car. Fireworks are illegal in the Republic of Ireland, but are available for Halloween. When referring to a car, it often describes a second-hand car bought by a younger person as a run-a-round.
  • grind = private revision class for secondary school children studying for state exams, and in addition to their normal classes. The grind is usually one-to-one and often given by a university or college student making some spare cash. Grind is also used normally as a verb.
  • root = also used as a verb by Irish people, meaning to find or search for something. "I had a good root for it" means I had a thorough look, search, for an item. Used equally regularly as a noun, eg., tree's root.
  • The difference between 'cheeky and 'cocky' = 'Cheeky' implies someone who is fun-loving and likes to challenge things/people in a fun way. It is generally used as a term of admiration, denoting someone who is different. 'Cocky' usually implies arrogance, and is often used to signal someone who thinks they are great/talented, but who annoys other people by their talent/brilliance or lack of it (depending on your vewpoint!). It is generally used as a negative term.
  • Mitching, on the mitch = being absent from school without permission
  • Fissog = face
  • Noggin = head or sometime brain
  • Guttersnipe = streetwise youngster, often of diminutive size, who sometimes organises a scam. It can also be applied to a smart child in a grudgingly admiring manner.
  • Scut (v.) = where somebody takes an illegal ride on a vehicle (usually at the back/rear), eg., horse and cart, tram, train or bus, always without the driver's knowledge. Thanks to Scott Hayes and friends to drawing it to our attention.
  • Scut (n.) = rascal, chancer, etc, often aimed at children ("ya little scut").
  • Spondulicks = money, cash etc [see "readies" below]. Thanks to Peter McMahon for it.
  • Creche = business that minds young children, usually of pre-school age.
  • Bona fide traveller = genuine traveller. The term dates from a period when people could not drink in the afternoon, unless the drink was sostenance for people on long journeys. Some folk went to great lengths to pretend they were travelling, just to get an early drink.
  • Spoiled priest = Man who was an apprentice priest (Novice) but failed to take Holy Orders. This term was popular in 20th century Ireland, but is less common now.
  • Box = Television. "What's on the box tonight"? = Do you know if there is anything worth watching on the TV?
  • "Chief cook and bottle washer" = A label to bellitle someone who thinks they are more important than they are!
  • "Nod off" = to fall asleep, frequently at a time other than bedtime
  • "Bunch of messers" = group of people who are interfering with something in the name of fun! It is usually good-natured and not malicious. The "Messers' are typically making a mess, having interaction with somebody or something.
  • Flick = film, movie (flicks = cinema, movie theatre)
  • Flutter = bet, gamble with bookmaker/bookies
  • Hooley = a party or celebration, usually with drink taken! It frequently features entertainment, typically music and dancing.


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