Norn Iron Speek or Northern Irish Dictionary

I have been in Canada for over three years now, (longer now!), and I am aware that I am losing not only my accent (not many regrets there), but also all those little sayings and words that make Norn Iron what it is (lots of regrets for this one).

So, in order to help me remember all those sayings and words I used to take for granted I wanted to start a dictionary.  However, I am aware that most of them have already disappeared into my sieve of a memory, and I need help.

I asked my Northern Irish friends and family to add to it, and to continue to, to help me retain those little gems and to educate my North American friends in the beauty and complexity of speaking Norn Iron.  Also, please feel free to correct me if I haven’t defined something correctly.

It should be noted that Northern Ireland is probably the only place in the world where when you turn up late and use, “I got stuck behind a tractor!” as your excuse no one will doubt you.

Thank you!

Please bear in mind that a lot of the sayings are slightly vulgar… stop reading here if you might be offended… please!


a pace – at peace – quietly – still

a face only a mother could love – ugly

a face like a baten bear – 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

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 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?

an owl looking out of an ivy bush – you could do with either brushing or cutting your hair

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 ye havin’ a laugh? – are you kidding?

arse – bottom

as dark as toby’s hole – as dark as the pit of hell

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 boy’s awful nice!”

a wee want – as in “thon doll has a wee want” – meaning that the girl in question is a sandwich short of a picnic or her mental capacity is dubious

aye – yes


bake – face or mouth

ballex – that’s rubbish! (bollocks as in balls as in testicles)

balloon – eejit

baltic – really cold -” it’s baltic out there!”

banjaxed – broken

bap – bread roll

barred – a death sentence as it means you are not allowed in the bar

bate – beat – “bate thon egg for ma will ya?”

beezer! – great!

beg – bag

big lad – man

big mawn – man

big girl’s blouse – he needs to harden up – as in “thon boy’s a big girl’s blouse!”

bladdered – drunk

bleeding – polite way of saying bloody – as in “that was bleeding fucked” – yep, you would be polite and not say bloody and then go on to say fuck or a variation of it

blitzed – drunk

blocked – drunk

blootered – drunk

blurt – rude young man – “thon wee lad is a dirty blurt!”

boggin – dirty/messy/horrible – “thon doll has a real boggin house!”

boney – bonfire

’bout ye! – how are you?

boys a dear – oh my word!

boys a dear, my guts are bad! – oh dear i have stomach ache!

brave – quite large/good – “thon was brave good”

brass monkeys – as in “it’s like brass monkeys out there” – it’s cold out there

breeks – trousers – as in “Auntie Ali!!! My breeks are falling down” – a direct quote from my niece at the country club summer fair while bouncing on the bouncey castle causing my sister, her mom, to blush and walk away leaving me to laugh at the looks

brew – unemployment benefit – can refer to the building where you claim it too

buggered – broken


calm yer knickers – calm down

catch yerself on! – wise up!

catch yer head on! – wise up!

catch on! – wise up!

champ – mashed potatoes with scallion in a volcano formation with half a pound of butter melting in the hole

chancer – someone trying to con

chase yerself! – go away!

cheeky wee get – cheeky chap

cheesie beano – chips (french fries) covered in baked beans and grated cheese

chicken – scared

chile – child

chip buttie – chips (french fries) in a buttered bap

chippie – fish and chip shop

chipper – fish and chip shop

clabber – sticky mud or being covered in something – “he was clabbered”

clampit – idiot

clart – dirty “look at tha clart on yer hands!” or bit of a one “she is one dirty clart!”

class – great/good

clean your clock – smack in the face

contrary – argumentative

cool yer jets – calm down

costume – really old fashioned for outfit – “thon doll looks like a dogs dinner in thon costume!”

coulda ate the decorations aff a hearse – very hungry

coulda ate the poultice aff the head of a scaby chile – very hungry

could eat an apple through a tennis racquet – has prominent front teeth

could ye face? – do you want?

craic – (prononuced crack) – fun “the craic was ninety!”

cracker – good

cream crackered – tired out

crittur – creature/person

cudden – couldn’t

culchie – someone who doesn’t live in the city

cut – drunk


dacent spud – good lad

dander – walk

dead on – nice – “he’s dead on!” or can be sarcastic –  as in of course  “aye, dead on”

dee-f – deaf “are yousens dee-f or what?”

desperate – very “thon was desperate bad!”

dine – down

do – beat or kill

do ye think i came up the Lagain 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/doing

dog’s ballix – as in “thon boy thinks he’s the dog’s ballix” – he thinks he is better than he is

dog’s dinner – a mess

doll – woman

dour – door

drizzle – light rain

druth – always thirsty

druthers – choice “if ah had ma druthers…”

duncher – flat cap


eejit – affectionate term for an idiot

eye, eye, jump in! (said while holding down the bottom eyelid) – I don’t believe you!


face like a lugan spade – long face

face like a well chewed pastie – ugly

face like a well chewed chop – not attractive

face like a well skelped arse – slapped face

faffin’ around – messing around

fally – follow – “fally thon doll, she knows where it is”

feg – cigarette

fell down the ugly tree and didn’t miss a branch – not as pretty as you might hope

ferfeckssake! – oh for goodness sake!

fillum – movie

floozie – “thon doll is such a floozie!!” – she is keen on the boys

flit – move – as in “they did a midnight flit!” – they moved overnight so no one would notice (as if!!)

flur – floor

footery – a bit difficult as in a bit complicated

footering – fiddling around – “quit yer footering and just do yer homework wee lad!”

fred! there’s no bread! – line from an ad for the Spar convenience stores in the 80’s now coined as a way of saying we need to buy some bread

frigger – rude word for a person you may not care a lot for

fur coat, no knickers – all show – as in “thon doll’s all fur coat and no knickers” – everything is for show with no substance


ganch – idiot “stop acting like a quare ganch!”

geg – joke or funny

get – a not so nice person “thon wee lad is a quare wee get”

getawaytafuk! – no way!

get wired in – please start to eat

gis – give

gissa – give me

gissa feg – please may i have a cigarette

give her the tittie – put your foot down

give ma head peace – give me some peace please – leave me alone

give out – complain or scold

give out – “tha engine gave out” – died

glipe – silly “yon we’an is such a glipe!”

goes – says “i go… and she turns around and goes….”

go play with the traffic – go away

go take a running jump – go away

grand – great “that’s grand!”

grasp the nettle – do what you have to do no matter what

gub – mouth “shut yer gub or ah’ll shut it fer ye!”

gulder – shout

gunk – as in ‘she got a quare gunk!’ meaning ‘she was startled or surprised’ or ‘it was quarely gunked’ meaning ‘it is totally fucked’

gunks – now this is where you need to pay attention… read the above line – gunk as in singular – but this is gunks as in plural meaning mens’ underwear – so be careful that you don’t insult a woman by suggesting that she is in men’s underwear when you just mean to tell her that it was a surprise to see her. ‘Ah got a quare gunk seeing you in thon!!’

gurn – cry or complain “she never stops gurning!”

gutted – disappointed

gutties – trainers/running shoes


half cut – half drunk

hallion – wild person – can be affectionate “he’s a wee hallion”

hammered – drunk

Happy Days! – that’s good!

hardly – not true

headbin – idiot

header – eejit

head staggers – being an eejit “he took the head staggers”

head the ball – eejit “thon boy is a quare head the ball”

heart of corn – kind hearted

hectic – mad/crazy

heel – the thick end of the load – fought over by children when toasted

hop up well – dress warmly

houl on – wait/hold on

houl yer horses – wait/hold on

houl yer whist – keep quiet

how’s it cuttin’? – how are you?

how’s yer belly af fer wrinkles? – how are you?

how much is that altogether? – how much do I owe you?

hump – sulking – ‘she has a quare hump on her the day!’


i tell a lie! – i just realised that i am wrong in what i said

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

if God spares me i would like to be buried here – (it makes sense honestly!) – if God permits i want to be buried here

i’ll do you! – i’ll kill you!

is that you? – are you finished?


jawbox – kitchen sink

jump in! (while pulling down your bottom eyelid) – do you think i am an idiot?


keep her lit – faster! faster!

keks – trousers or underwear depending on your mood

kite – face

knock it inta ya! – eat up! or drink up!

knock that down ye – eat up! or drink up!


lamped – hit/punched

lashing down – raining heavily

lifted – arrested

like a wee bag of weasels – cross/bad tempered – “he’s like a wee bag of weasels the day”

loaf – head

look at the bake on her! – look at her face!

looper – idiot

lug – ear

lug ole – ear hole

lush – brilliant


mad – hectic

magic – good/great

make a show of – show up/embarrass

man dear! – good grief

man dear, yon’s magic! – wow! that’s great!

mankin’ – dirty/messy/horrible

me back teeth are floatin’! – i need to use the bathroom!

melt – can mean head/shit/whatever is appropriate – “I’ll knock yer melt in!”

messages – shopping

millie – a female spide or steek

mingin’ – dirty/messy/horrible

mitch – to skip school without permission

mizzle or mizzling – light rain

more power to yer elbow – good luck to you

more power to yer wee wheel – good luck to you

mucker – friend


nek it! – down it in one

never af the batter – never stops – “she’s never af the batter, thon doll!” – she never sits down

nice one! – well done!

nigh – now

no bother – no problem

norman no mates – unpopular person

now yer suckin deisel! – well done you! – doing well


odds – coins

offie – off license

oi! – hello, please give me your attention!

on the pig’s back – doing well “thon wee lad’s on the pig’s back”

oxsters – armpits


pan loaf – regular bread as opposed to “plain loaf” which is slightly coarser and much better

parful – powerful – strong “thon was a parful drop a tea!”

pastie – minced pork with mashed potato shaped into a patty and battered then deep fried

pat – saucepan

peelers – police officers

piece – packed lunch – usually a sandwich

pishin’ down – raining heavily

pissin’ down – raining heavily

pished – drunk

pissed – drunk

plonker – eejit

poke – ice cream cone “dyawanna wee poke?”

pole axed – drunk

pouring – raining heavily

pull – to “get lucky” as in “get your coat you’ve pulled”

purdie oaten – potato oaten bread


Q.T. – not the cutsey north american/text speak for “cutie” but Q.T. – as in “lemme tell ya on the Q.T.” – on the down low – secret

quare – a lot


ragin’ – angry

rake – to speed – “he was raking down them country lanes”

rates – rats if you are posh and live on the Malone Road in Belfast

ride – “thon boys a quer ride” – that man is very sexy

ride – sex

rippin’ – angry

rubber ducked – drunk

run ye over – take you there “dyawan ma to run ye over home?”

rough as perdie oaten – lumpy “he has a face like perdie oaten”

round – slice of bread

rounds of the kitchen – as in “she’s gonna gie ye the rounds of the kitchen!” – tell you off – coming from chasing someone around the kitchen with a frying pan


safe home – goodbye/have a safe trip home

says i – i said

says i to her – i said to her

scaldy – really short hair cut

scald – burn

schuck – ditch at side of road – usually full of clabber

scooped – arrested

scrab – scratch – or vulgar for good lover as in “he’s a big scrab” referring to scratch marks on his back…

scrapnel – coins

scullery – working kitchen

scunder’d – embarrassed – “Ah was fair scunder’d when they saw the state a the working kitchen!”

scunner’d – another version of scunder’d

see her i married? shis niver aff ma back – my wife is wanting me to do something

see you, wee lad! – watch out!

shar – shower

sheet of bread – slice of bread

shithawk – not a nice person at all

shut yer bake! – shut up!

shut yer teeth! – shut up!

sicken ye – that would annoy you

signed – sound

sits down to pee – needs to man up “thon boy sits down to pee”

skelpt – slapped

skin af his skitter – mean – “he wouldn’t give you the skin off his skitter”

skinned ye! – i beat you in that game!

skitter – poop

skint – broke/has no money

skive – to procrastinate – or to pretend to be doing what you should when you aren’t – to avoid doing something… ack! this is hard to explain – but if you should be doing something and aren’t you are skiving

skivvy – slave

skivvies – men’s underwear – usually used ones…

slabber – someone talking rubbish or behing your back “did you hear the slabber from thon man?”

slap it up ye! – serves you right!

sleekit – sneaky

some pup – clever

sound – nice “he’s sound”

spide – someone into rave music

spoofin’ – lying

spoon – silly billy

spuds – potatoes

square up – pay debt

steady on! – behave or watch it

steaming – drunk

steek – lad in a shell suit with stupid hair who thinks he is great

stickin’ out – great “thon car is stickin’ out!”

stocious – drunk

stop that gurning or ah’ll give ya something to gurn about – stop crying or i will have to give you a slap

stroked – robbed or ripped off

swally – “will ye have a wee swally?” – will you join me in a wee drink?


take a long walk off a short pier – go away

take the bull by the horns – do what you have to do

tarbil – terrible as in very

that’s a cracker – that is funny/brilliant

the bee’s knees – the best thing

the day – today

the dead lice is drappin’ aff her – she is a bit dirty

them’s the kind a people who keep a shovel of shit on the table to keep the flies aff the butter – (how can i translate this???)  they are the sort of people who use unusual methods to achive practical results

the sharp side of yer tongue – “she gave me the sharp side of her tongue” – she gave out to me – told me off

the sweat was running down the schuck a me arse – i was a bit hot

there’s no flies on her! – she is clever (too quick for flies to catch up)

they look like their da spat them out! – they are very similar in looks to their father

thick as champ – stupid

thick as pig shite – stupid

thick as two short planks – stupid

thon – that

thon’d scare rats from a stone ditch – a less than attractive person

trail ye Newry style! – as in “shut the fuck up or I’ll trail ye Newry style”  – shut up or I shall severely beat you!!

thran – stubborn

themuns – those people

throughother – a mess – “when she came outta school the day she was throughother!”

ticket – as in “thon wee doll has a quer ticket on herself!” – she thinks she is special

till – to “ahm goin’ till tha shap”

titter of wit – some sense “thon wee doll doesn’t have a titter of wit”

touching cloth – i really don’t want to define this one… ummm okay… you need to poop so much that it is almost too late…

tout – someone who reports things to the police or other authorities – you don’t want to be a tout really

trail – as in “ah cud trail ye we one han tied behind ma back!” – I could beat you in a fight with only one hand

tube – idiot “don’t be such a tube!”

two sheets to the wind – drunk




waddaya at the day? – what are you doing today?

wait til ah tell ya – the way to start relating a story/conversation

waste of space – a person not worth bothering with

waste of good air – a person not worth bothering with

we’an – wee one – child

wandering around like a fart in a trance – wandering aimlessly

wee – little – goes in front of everything and anything – has nothing to do with size – so a huge house could still be wee

wee buns – easy – “that exam was wee buns”

wee doll – girl

weeker! – brilliant!

weemin – women

wee drap in yer han – cup of tea “dyawanna wee drap in yer hand?”

wee want – something missing intellectually – “he has a wee want”

weren’t behind the door – you were not too backward in pushing yourself forward

wet the tea – make the tea

wet the babies head – go out to celebrate the birth of a baby

what’s the crack? – what’s happening?

wick – not great – “thon fillum was wick”

will ye have another? – a stupid question 🙂

wind yer neck in – wise up or calm down

windie – window

windielicker – a horrible way to say someone is a bit slow (i can explain this more in a pm if needed)

wired to the moon with a faulty plug – crazy!!!!

wise up! – get some sense!

wouldn’t let them near a scaby dog – don’t trust them

wrecked – drunk

wud ya sit a pace? – please sit quietly



ya buck eejit, ya – you silly boy!

ye cudden warm til ton boy! – you couldn’t like than man/person

yer – your

yer a buck eejit – you are crazy (good thing)

yer a head the ball – you are an eejit (sometimes good)

yer a rocket – you are crazy

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! – an insult when you run out of ideas – your father!

yer ma! – an insult when you run out of ideas – your mother!

yer ma’s yer da! – very insulting

yon – that

you know what i mean like? – do you understand me?

youse – you

youse gettin’? – are you getting served?

yousens – you all


Yes, we have an amazing number of words that mean drunk, we are very imaginative.  However, please note that according to all mothers of Norn Iron sons, not one has ever been drunk, if he appears that way it was due either to a “bad” pint or to the greasy chips they ate on the way home.  No mother will admit to her son being inebriated due to drinking too much. 🙂

We also have more words for rain than anywhere else in the world.  And they all mean different things.

Also it should be noted that “fuck” can mean anything – as in “Shut the fuck up”, “Would youse all fuck up?”, “Come on to fuck” (come here), “Out to fuck” (go away), “as cold as fuck”, “as hot as fuck” – it can mean whatever you want – however i should also point out that my mother would skelp my backside if i ever used it – so i didn’t 🙂 – good girl!

And if someone says, “Ah fuck it! It’s grand!”, it means that they can’t be bothered to finish something properly.

Thanks to Emm, Janis, Anne, Leanne, Karen, Donna, Julie, Adrienne, Kathryn, Johnnie and Claire! x