“So it is” – Northern Irish people, daily.
So it is. Yes, we really do say that too often, so we do. Growing up in Northern Ireland, we always had our own slang. At the time, I didn’t know another world. I remember ordering “a chip” in England for the first time, only to be laughed at. The thing is, English people, I was right wasn’t I? I mean they are not FRENCH fries, and we don’t need to use the word “portion” now do we? We know it’s a portion. It’s not a portion of pizza, or a portion of sushi, or a portion of chips or a portion of pierogi is it? It’s pizza, sushi, chip, pierogi. When I lived in Bournemouth, I used to visit my family for a few days then fill my backpack up entirely with the below food. I kid you not…
Then, in 2011 while living in Hong Kong, I became a professional English teacher. Life working in bars, in PR, on farms and in ice cream huts were left behind. Since that day, as well as being a professional travel blogger, I have taught English to all ages and sexes from 3 to 70. I have taught in Kindergartens, Primary Schools and Secondary Schools. I have taught in businesses, to governments and to individual clients. I am currently a registered Native English teacher in Poland with years of experience.
However, part of me LOVES the creativity of the English language. The nonsense part of it. While I teach professionally from the books of Oxford, Cambridge and Shakespeare, away from that I love good old slang, idioms, cockney rhymes and…Northern Irish-isms.
Growing up in Northern Ireland, we had our own dialects and slangs that other parts of the United Kingdom just didn’t get. Even those in the Republic of Ireland looked at me as if I had two heads. It was the six county slang, the Ulster twang. It was a mix of:
4.Good old Northern Irish banter
And personally, I love the good old banter in Norn Iron so I do. Quare craic so it is. Aye, yer tellin me so ye are?! Anyway for those English and Polish people out there, ye might just understand this, or ye might nat so ye might nat…this is just a short list of some Northern Irish phrases and words that I have tried my best to translate into English and Polish. I might have made some mistakes, but will update and correct as best I can!
The format is as such:
Northern Irish phrase
English phrase translation (roughly)
Polish phrase translation (roughly)
Example – “example sentence so it is”.
Across the water
In England mostly (but also Scotland or Wales)
W anglii lub Wielki Brytanii
Example – “Them there boys across the water don’t get it so they don’t”.
Acting the lig
Messing or fooling around, up to no good
Zachowywać się jak idiota
Example – “Stop acting the lig you”.
Ah bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy na na na na na
To jump up and down insanely for a short period (usually at a football match or in a crowd near a stadium
Robić ‘Poznań’ (except without turning your back)
Example (watch the video) –
Example – “Shut yer bake you”.
Broke (often beyond repair)
Example – “Thon DVD player’s banjaxed so it is”.
Example – “See that 50 yarder from David Healy, it was beezer so it was”.
Example – “Can you put my fleg and my tap intill my beg?”
Example – “the bogs are absolutely boggin so they are”.
Example – “Mind my pint, I’m headin till the bogs so I am”.
How are you?
Jak sie masz? / Jak tam? / Co słyhać?
Example – “Bout ye big lad”.
A lot, a big amount, very
Example – “Thon’s a brave chip ye have there Billy”.
Extremely funny and endearing idiot capable of stupidities
Example – “See yer man there, he’s a buck eejit so he is”.
Example – “The wee Glens game is off cos it’s bucketin’ so it is”.
Buckfast Tonic Wine
Wino Buckfasto z tonikiem
Example – “My mate Barry is nuts so he is – he took 12 bottles of Bucky in his carryon”.
Takeaway alcohol, and alcohol only, not food.
Wziąć alkohol na wynos
Example – “I’m headin till the offy till get myself a wee carryout so I am”.
Boys chasing girls at school to kiss them (and vice versa)
Chłopcy ganiają dziewczyny w szkole by je pocałować (i nawzajem)
Example – “At school in Norn Iron, everybody plays ‘catchy kissy’ so they do”.
Catch yerself on
Get a grip of yourself and sort yourself out
Example – “You need to catch yourself on so you do”.
Portion of French fries
Example – “Whatty ye want?” / “Give us a chip please”.
Drażnić / żartować
Example – “It was quare craic so it was”.
A cultural eejit and arguably unsophisticated country person, often from a farm near Cullybackey
Example – “See yer man there, he’s a culchie so he is”.
Stroll or aimless wander
Example – “I’ve had enough, I’m off on a wee dander so I am”.
Does yer ma know yer da?
Is your mother aware of who your father actually is?
Czy twoja matka wie kto cię spłodził?
Example “Look at the state of ye, does yer ma know yer da?”
Very harsh abuse that you would only give to a dog, even though us Northern Irish love our dogs
Złe znęcanie się
Example – “I gave yer man dog’s abuse so I did”.
Down south (direct opposite is up north)
Republic of Ireland
Example – “Yer man went down south for his holidays so he did”.
An exam you take when you are 10/11 to determine which secondary school you will go to
Egzamin dla 11-latków
Example – “My wee lad is doing his eleven plus the day”.
E’s in the Rah
That gentleman is a member of the terrorist group called Irish Republican Army
On jest terrorystą z IRA
Example “E’s in the Rah so he is”.
E’s in the You Dee
That gentleman is a member of the terrorist group called Ulster Defence Association
On jest terrorystą z UDA
Example – “E’s in the You Dee so he is”.
E’s in the You Vee
That gentleman is a member of the terrorist group called Ulster Volunteer Force
On jest terrorystą z UVF
Example – “E’s in the You Vee so he is”.
To criticise someone and make them feel stupid
Zrobić kogoś w konia
Example “Bet you feel wick after you were snared with Buckie in yer carryon”.
Example – “Put yer fleg and yer tap intill yer beg and stop yer gurnin’ will ye”.
Park football term which means anyone on that team can be goalkeeper as long as only one goalkeeper touches the ball on any one attack intill the box
Każdy może być bramkarzem
Example – “It’s goal the winner and fly nets so it is”.
For fuck sake
Example – “Fox ache Jimmy, close the windy, my balls are froze”.
Frostbite / hydrothermia
Odmrożenia i hipotermia
Example – “It’s minus 8 so it is, ye wouldn’t be long getting frostbit so ye wouldn’t”.
Fry up / Ulster fry
Northern Irish all day breakfast, unbeatable dish, essential and delicious
Tradycjnia dania z irlandii polnocnej
Example – “I’m starvin so I need a good fry up (Ulster fry) so I do”.
*Some Northern Irish people debate the correct ingredients. It can contain any of these, but preferably as big as possible. The photo below if my Mum’s fry up for me after I came home to Northern Ireland in 2014 for the first time in well over 2 years…
(potato bread, soda bread, veda bread, fried bread, wheaten bread, Cookstown sausages, bacon, tomatoes, eggs, black pudding, baked beans, mushrooms).
Green and white army, Northern Ireland football supporters
Biało i zielony, kibice z Irlandii Północnej
Example – “Seen any GAWA in Lyon yet?”
A funny thing, person or situation
Zabawna osoba lub sytuacja
Example – You’re a geg so you are”.
Get ‘er bucked
Have sexual intercourse with that wonderful beautiful lady
Uprawiać seks z tą piękną dziewczyną
Example – “Wind the windy down and shout ‘get er bucked’ till yer woman”.
Get er lit
(this is proving difficult to translate…things are great, get things started, get things going, yeoo! etc. – used often as a preulde to the more popular “keep er lit”)
Example – “Yeoo! Ger er lit”.
Doughnut (with a hole in it)
Pączek (if it had a hole in it)
Example – “Away to Woolco and buy me a gravy ring”.
Complaining, moaning, yapping
Example – “Stop yer gurnin’ you”.
The room in a Northern Irish house or flat that has the boiler in it
Example – “The towels are in the hot press so they are”.
Here’s me till im
I said to him (in response to something not major at all but you exaggerate it)
Here’s me till er
I said to her (in response to something not major at all but you exaggerate it)
Home heating boiler system
Example – “What buck eejit left the immersion on?”
Example – “Bate thon Ulster fry intill ye”.
Do you remember?
Example – “Jamember thon time when yer man was lit”.
Example – “Jamember thon time when yer man was lit”.
Example – “Who’s in nets the day?” “Maik Taylor”.
Keep ‘er lit
Example – “Keep ‘er lit mate”.
Example – “I’m from Norn Iron so I am”.
OWC (Our Wee Country, from a 1996 quote by Barry Hunter)
A term of endearment and love for Northern Ireland (our wee country)
Irlandia Północna (nasz mały kraj)
Example – (Barry Hunter, 1996) “What about our wee country”.
Example – “Have yous got a power shower at home?”
Passy shooty in
Northern Irish park football with one goalkeeper and one set of nets (or jumpers) whereby all other take turns to do crosses and passes to test the goalkeeper (but no tackling – opposite is “tackly shooty in”)
Piłka nożna bez walki, tylko testowanie bramkarza, na przyklad w parku
Example – “Wee Jimmy’s down the park playing passy shooty in so he is”.
Penalty kick (in football)
Rzut karny (piłka nożna)
Example – “It’s not fly nets so it’s not – that’s a pelanty so it is”.
Ridiculously funny person or situation
Bardzo zabawna osoba lub sytuacja
Example – “See yer man there, he is a quare geg so he is”.
Time to go
Example – “Right finish those beers boys”.
Fed up, annoyed, embarrassed mostly in a ridiculously Belfastic fashion
Example – “Wee Bobby had too much to drink and pulled his begs down in front of some auld doll, he was scundered so he was”.
See you (pointing the finger/getting angry)
You are an asshole and I am coming to get you
Example – “See you”.
Caught on doing something wrong
Example – “yer man was well snared so he was”.
Switch or latch to lock the inside of a Northern Irish door
Example – “Did ye put the snib on Gerry?”
So it is
(just learn it and add it to almost every presently important sentence)
Example – “It’s a quare day. So it is”.
So I was/am
(just learn it and add it to almost every past tense story related sentence)
Example – “I was on the rip so I was”.
State of ye
Look at how ridiculous you look
Example – “Sort yerself out, state of ye”.
Stop yer slabbering
Shut up or I’ll chin / hit ye
Zamknij się, albo/lub cię uderzę
Example – “Stop yer slabbering son or I’ll chin ye”.
Everything is going well now, but this happened suddenly and recently
Wystzko dobrze teraz, ale wcoraj nie bylo
Example – “Yer car’s up and running again Jimmy, now yer suckin’ diesel”.
Tackly shooty in
Northern Irish park football with one goalkeeper and one set of nets (or jumpers) whereby all other players fight it out to score and win (but no passing – opposite is “passy shooty in”)
Piłka nożna w parku kiedy jest tylko jeden bramkarz i wszyscy pilkarze walczą o zdobycie bramki
Example – “Wee Jimmy’s down the park playing tackly shooty in so he is”.
Example – “Jimmy have you seen the new Norn Iron tap yet? It’s beezer so it is”.
The best crisps in the world / short for potato
Najlepsze chipsy w świecie
Example – “I love Tayto cheese and onion so I do”.
That item or thing located in that position (we use this a lot in Northern Ireland!!)
Ten rzecz (this is probably wrong, no idea how to describe it)
Example – “See that there?”
Example – “I’m goin till Castle Court the day so I am”.
Example – “I’m goin till Barry’s the morra”.
(That person I forgot the name of)
Example – “Is thingy goin’ till the Norn Iron game the day?”
(That thing I forgot the name of)
Example – “Here you, can you pass me thon thingymajig?”
That exact one that we speak of
Ten / ta / to
Example – “Pass me thon beer will ye?”
To / towards
Example – “He’s gone till thon park”.
The City Centre
Example – “Does this bus go intill town?”
Ulster’s Number One
The best footballer for the Northern Ireland team on the pitch
Example – “Artur Boruc, Ulster’s number one”.
(What is that lady’s name, because I forget?)
(What is that gentleman’s name, because I forget?)
What’s he /she out of?
What television show or film was that person starring in?
W jakim serialu jest aktorem?
Example – “I recognise yer man there, what’s he out of?”
Splendid, excellent, marvellous
Example – “Marty have ye seen the new Glens tap? It’s wheaker so it is”.
Złe / zły / zła
Example – “Take the number 7 off, he’s wick so he is”.
Example – “Fox ache Jimmy close the windy, I’m cauld so I am”.
Defunct shopping centre name in the town of Newtownards (yes I still call it that)
Galeria Newtowards (Centrum Handlowe w Newtownardsa)
Example – “Yer man’s off till Woolco to get a gravy ring so he is”.
Complaining, moaning, gurning
Example – “Stop yer yappin you”.
(it just doesn’t translate into English or Polish)
Example – “get in there yeoo!”
That man who we are both aware of
That woman who we are both aware of
Yer Havin me on
You are joking – kidding me
Example – “Larne won the League? Yer havin’ me on so ye are”.
If there are any Northern Irish slang words or phrases you feel I have left out of mis-interpreted or wrongly translated, please either comment below, comment on the Facebook post or email me – jonny [at] dontstopliving [dot] net and I’ll update the post!
Happy learning Northern Irish “spake”!
7 thoughts on “The Best Northern Irish Slang Words and Phrases Translated “Intill” English and Polish”
Two phases my Mum, used to say…What you up to Loch unbar?….and Farna Harpy…. neither mean anything to me. She was from Eniskillin….
Hi Michael, Thanks for the comment. Themmuns are quare good uns and I didn’t know them as sadly I was taught English as a kid ahead of my native Ulster Scots and Irish Gaelic. I also lived in England a fair whack so I did. Up the mighty ducks aye! Ferney Park loyal. Best wishes till ye. Jonny
I’m not sure how prevalent this term is but at least in Mid Ulster it was often heard amongst my gen x generation. Something that isn’t very good would be called ket or if really bad wile ket or wick ket. Sometimes see it spelt as cat, but it has no feline connection to my knowledge.
Another oft used term is calling someone that has done or is being stupid a Clampett. Derived from the US tv series of the same name about uncultured backwoods people moving into high society where they are totally out of place.
Hi Gareth, Thanks for the comment. Aye it’s quite Mid Ulster thatun so it is and I left it out so I did – usually ket! I didn’t realise clampett was Northern Irish so I didn’t as I lived in England a fair whack so I did and thunk that themmuns also said it so I did. Keep er lit so it is. Best wishes till ye. Jonny
Something’s wrong with the translation of “Does yer ma know yer da?” It should be “Czy twoja matka wie kto cię spłodził?”
Hi Classless, I have updated it thanks. Regards, Jonny
My English friends comment on me saying, ‘Whenever’ whenever ‘when’ would do.