Ever been to Cork but didn’t understand half the things the locals were saying? Look no further, now you can go there with confidence!
Below is a table which gives some examples of Cork slang as well as their meanings and where possible the source / derivation of the slang word or phrase. Thanks to our friends at corkpastandpresent.ie for this piece.
|Word / Phrase
|Source / Deriviation
|A strong expression of dislike:
“I’m allergic to dat fella – I don’t like him.”
|Up-for-grabs. Usually said by children playing when objects were flung up in the air.
|The Arcadia ballroom that stood on the Lower Glanmire Road
|As old as Atty Hayes’s goat
|Attiwell Hayes, a Cork brewer of the late 18th and early 19th century, kept a pet goat which lived to a great age.
|Away for slates
|Do well or be successful: “After the goal Cork were away for slates”
|Game involving small steel balls played in association with the game of “glassey alleys”
|Joker or mischievously humorous person
|Lie down (especially for sunbathing): “We were all balmed out on the beach.”
|Banish (a ball)
|To put a ball out of bounds, especially over a wall where it cannot be retrieved “We had to stop playing ‘cos Tom banished the ball.”
|From the game of handball
|A feral pigeon. Young pigeon enthusiasts would trap bankers and bring them home to their pigeon-lofts to breed racing pigeons
|The most favoured child in a family, usually the youngest: “Young Danny is Mary’s bar-of-gold.”
As well as meaning Barrack Street, when preceeded by ‘The’, it also was used as an abbreviation for The Barrack Street Brass Band. The Barracka’s rival, was The Butter Exchange Brass Band (abbreviated as “The Buttera”).
|Bate (Pronounced like ‘baat’.)
|A piece (of bread/meat): “There’s a bate of bread for ye.”
|Bawlk the robber
|Scruffily dressed: “Look at the cut of yer man, he looks like bawlk the robber.”
|Beat that in two throws!
|A term of approval used when something remarkable has been said or done
|From the popular sport of road bowling
|‘Be doggy wide’
|Keep alert/be careful ‘Be doggy wide with him, he’s tricky’
|Very good / the best ‘That apple tart was the berries’
|Berril see ‘Give someone a berril’
|Binoo / Give someone the binooo
|Signal / Sign / Give someone a signal: ‘Give Willie the binoo and we’ll go home’
|Probably from the Irish word ‘beannú’ in the sense of greeting
|The red jerseys and white shorts of the Cork hurling and football teams. The words are often used affectionately to refer to the teams themselves. ‘Come on the blood-and-bandages.’
|Pigs ribs / spare ribs — a popular Cork dish.
|Bon Secours girl
|An unfashionably dressed young woman
|The hero in a film: ‘John Wayne was the boy’
|‘Break your melt’
|Test your patience to the breaking point ‘That fella would break your melt’
|A fart. As children in Cork, we had a naughty rhyme which went:
‘Julius Caesar left a breezer
On the coast of France.
The King of Spain tried the same,
But he left it in his pants’
|Crumbled remains of anything but especially food (although “turf bruss” was a common expression).
There was a character known to children as Paddy the Bruss Man. He was the watchman in the Shandon sweet factory after hours. We would go to the gate of the factory and knock, and ask Paddy for a penn’orth of bruss, and he would hand us out what crumbled bits he had gathered from the machines in a “poke” and take the penny
|Possibly from the Irish brúscar
|Something for nothing — a gift, a freebie
Baksheesh is a Persian phrase for charity or alms or a gift of some kind.n. pl. baksheeshA gratuity, tip, or bribe paid to expedite service, especially in some Near Eastern countries
|A person from a rural area. Often used in a mildly derogatory sense.
|Two people that look alike: “John is the the bulb off is father.”
|To stop someone from doing something. To prevent something from taking place. To cause something to be abandoned or discarded. “They withdrew funding from the scheme and that put the cawhake on it”.
|Most likely from Irish “cá théadh” where would (something) be going?
|Bits of broken table ware with which girls played. “Playing chanies” was common
|Most likely an older pronunciation of china (cups and saucers) in the plural
|‘Chalk it down’
|To get a cheeser was to be painfully struck with the edge of a school ruler on the backside when you were not expecting it. Usually given by one schoolboy to another. The practice was often explicitly forbidden by headmasters.
|Reminiscent of a knife cutting cheese perhaps
|A chestnut, especially one used in the children’s game ‘conkers’
|Nothing: ‘He hardly did it for choicer’
|Clothes, particularly a man’s suit: “Johnny got a lovely clobber in Cronin’s.”
|A uniformed warden of public parks
|Memory, personal experience
|A savings box, typically for children
|A children’s game played with chestnuts which had string put through holes bored through their centres.
|Formerly a very strict Lenten diet was enjoined on Catholics; only one full meal and two small meals(collations) were allowed on fast days. A biscuit or two was also allowed with morning tea to prevent heartburn. Enterprising Cork bakers produced very large biscuits so that those on the Lenten fast could stave off the pangs of hunger while staying within the letter of the law. The biscuits were called ‘Connie dodgers’ after the Catholic bishop of Cork Cornelius Lucey.
|A Corkman working in Fords in Dagenham back home on vacation. Many Corkmen got employment in the Ford plant in Dagenham.
|A badly made object. ‘That’s an awful dawfake of a chair’
|A dig. ‘Give him a dawk to shut him up’
|Deko see Have a deko
|A savings scheme operated by a few people, usually women. Compare with ‘manage’.
|Doing a line
|Being in a relationship with somebody ‘Joe and Angela are doing a line for years’
|A cake whose ingredients include stale bread/ stale cake and raisins
|Very small ‘Can I have a dooshie piece of chocolate?’
|Down the banks
|A reprimand. ‘I gave him down the banks’ – ‘I reprimanded him’
|Term of approval
|Presumably a shortened version of ‘I wouldn’t doubt you, boy!’
|Drink the cape off Saint Paul
|Capacity for holding strong drink ‘Paddy had ten pints but that fella could drink the cape off Saint Paul’
|A blood pudding made with sheep’s blood or cow’s blood or a mixture of both. It’s traditionally eaten with tripe.
|Men and boys who sell the Evening Echo on the streets of Cork
|The outside section of cigarette packets which were collected by youngsters, flattened and tied into bundles, and used as currency. An item such as a ball might cost you several hundred fagaas
|A tight-fitting coat
|The game of pitch-and-toss
|To have sex with
|Failure to turn up for an arranged meeting, especially a date ‘Tom is raging; he got a fifty last night’
|Possibly from fifty per-cent
|Have sexual intercourse. Also used as a noun meaning a promiscuous woman.
|Possibly from the Irish ‘fleadh’ which means ‘festival’.
|Odds and ends carried by little boys in their pockets, which they swapped
|Gatch (Pronounced ‘gaatch’)
|Gait, carriage, personal deportment. Usually used disparagingly. ‘Look at the gatch of him.’
|Are you going ‘drinking’
|Feeling ill/like you’re going to be sick. “That breast in a bun gave me the gawks”.
|Looking after ones appearance.
|Gillete see ‘All gillete’
|Give (someone) a berril
|Call on somebody
|A small glass sphere used in the children’s game marbles
|A game played with pebbles. White smooth marble pebbles where highly prized for this game and these were also known as “gobs”.
|Instructions/rules ‘Ask Dan, he has all the goin’-on-scrips’
|Expression of astonishment. “Gollun, Look at the state of yer man dere, like”.
|Gonkapouch see ‘I will in my gonkapouch’
|A third person (out) with a couple
‘I’ve no one to go for a drink with tonight, girl’
‘Sure, go out with Jason and Shakira’
‘Go way ourra dat, I’d be like a goosa’
|Silly, unpleasant person ‘Don’t mind him, he’s only a gowl.’
|‘Hand me down the moon’
|Extremely tall person
|Very lucky ‘The Glen were haunted to win that match’
|Have a deko
|Take a look at
|Someone who’s headed a football so often that it’s affected his brain.
|To steal: ‘Joe hobbled the apple in the shop’
|Horgan’s Buildings, off Magazine Road. ‘Hoggy’ is often used in Cork as a nickname for anyone named Horgan.
|Nickname for the former Cork & Muskerry Light Railway
|From coupling device used on the trains
|‘I will in my gonkapouch’
|‘I most certainly will not’
|‘If you were sad, she’d make you lonesome’
|A phrase used to describe someone whose conversation is both gloomy and boring
|A date with a member of the opposite sex ‘I’ve a jag with the oul’ doll tonight’
|A cranky person, especially a cranky man
|A man’s nickname
|To look at something/someone “Bill was lampin’ the lasher”
|Lang, see: On the lang
|Also known as getting a “langie”. A common dangerous practice by youngsters, especially boys, in former times, of hanging on to the back of a moving lorry, bus or horse and cart to get a free ride. “I got a langie up Grawn” “I’ll tell your Mam you were langing on to the bus”
|Personal experience in Cork
|(ii) Agitated, irritating, and obnoxious person. (Term reputedly brought back from India to Cork by the Munster Fusileers who, while based in India, viewed the langur monkey as an irritating creature. Sample phrase: ‘Go way ya langer’.
(ii) Penis (possibly related to the langur monkey which has a very long tail — up to 40 inches)
|Michael Lynch, Douglas, Cork
|An indeterminate infection
|A good-looking young woman.
|Tedious, boring ‘The film was very leadránach’
|From the Irish ‘leadránach’ meaning ‘slow, tedious’
|‘Like’ peppers the speech of many Corkonians. It’s used as an interjection and has nothing at all to do with the usual meaning of the word. ‘D’ye know what I mean, like?’
|Trouble, especially financial. ‘That man is in the height of loberty.’
|Coal Quay dealers 1960s
|Sluggish, slow, lazy ‘I’ve no energy, I’m logie from the heat’
|A penny. ‘Give the child a few lops’
|A dig/punch ‘Give someone a lowry’
|Bandon Road area circa 2000
|A foolish person
|Slang used by older generation
|A savings scheme operated by a few people, usually women. ‘Don’t forget to give Mary the money for the manage’ Compare diddle-um.
|Worth/value ‘I’ve mass on that’
|From the Irish ‘meas’ meaning ‘judgement/regard’
|Very good/beautiful ‘The Christmas dinner was only massive’
|Old cat/old woman
|Term of approval ‘That lemonade is me daza’
|Idiot ‘That fella is a right meb’
|‘He made a pure mebs of the job’ – ‘He made a bags of the job’
|Melt see ‘Break your melt’
|The card game nine-card brag
|An indecisive person
|On the lang
|Being absent from school without permission
|Oul’ man’s arse
|Someone grown old whilst young.
‘Yer man dere is a right oul man’s arse…he never goes out playing or anything’
|A humorous, affectionate name for a husband ‘I better go home to get Oul’ Rowdlum’s tea’
|Street traders on Cornmarket Street, 1950s/1960s
|Out with (someone)
|Be offended with/refuse to speak to (someone) ‘Barney is out with Mick’
|(St) Patrick’s Street/Strolling down (St) Patrick’s Street (Corkonians usually leave out the ‘St’ part of the street name)
|Cork Examiner/Irish Examiner (newspaper)
|Trinity Bridge over the south channel of the Lee
|The bridge was formally opened by Gerald Goldberg , the Lord Mayor of Cork, in 1977. Mr Goldberg was a leading member of the Jewish community in Cork.
|A small delicate individual
|From the Irish ‘padhsán’ meaning a delicate, complaining person
|A child’s word for urine
|A mispronunciation of the former Botanic Gardens which later became St Joseph’s Cemetery
Excellent; brilliant e.g. ‘Dat feen’s a pure daycent player.’
|A large quantity, usually of alcoholic drink ‘Mick is dyin’, he had a rake of pints last night’
|A large stone but of manually movable size (not a boulder or fixed position rock).
“It wasn’t just a stone he threw. It was a rocker!”
|Rarely used, old slang
|Sconce/Have a sconce at
|Look/Take a look at
|A road bowling match ‘Are ye goin’ to the score out Dublin Hill?’
|Walk/stroll ‘Do you fancy going for a scove?’
|Subscription ‘My father always paid his scrip to the trade union’
|Probably an abbreviation of ‘subscription’
|Very vain. ‘Look at your man, he thinks he’s it, he’s septic.’
|Seven shows of Cork
|Verbal abuse ‘Mary was so annoyed she gave Danny the seven shows of Cork.’
|Showing off ‘Look at that one an’ she shapin.’
|A drain or any trap to take water from roads ,example of use; me mam poured the tea down the shore
|Haws, the fruit of the hawthorn tree, the kernel of which was used as ammunition for pea-shooters
|Most likely from sceachóirí the Irish name for the fruit
|Skite/On the skite
|A bout of heavy drinking ‘Paddy’s wife is away an’ he’s on the skite’
|Loaf of bread with a round, skull-like shape
|Steal apples from an orchard ‘We slocked apples in Murphy’s garden yesterday’
|A peak cap
|Probably from ‘purblind’
|Courting/kissing and cuddling
|The phrase is also used in Dorset in England.
|Tantrum ‘That child is in a stailc.’
|From the Irish ‘stailc’ meaning ‘sulkiness’
|A steering cart. A homemade cart for children, usually with ball bearings for wheels.
|Just passing the time/Doing nothing much
|A mispronunciation of ‘stroke hauling’, an illegal method of catching fish by impaling them on a sharp hook attached to a rod or pole. Note also the Irish word ‘stracáil’ meaning ‘struggling, striving’
|Take a rabie / Throw a rabie
|Get very angry or worked up
|Possibly from rabid in the sense of ‘raging’
|An unkempt, dishevelled person. ‘Look at the state of him, he’s like Tom Shehawdy’
|Coal Quay traders circa 1950
|Tocht (Pronounced ‘tuct’)
|A catch/lump in the throat due to emotion ‘The poor child is crying so much he has a tocht’
|From the Irish word ‘Tocht’ in the sense of deep emotion. Ó Dónaill’sFoclóir Gaeilge-Béarla has ‘Bhí tocht orm.’ – ‘I couldn’t speak with emotion’
|A pine cone
|Probably from the resemblance of a pine cone to a spinning top toy for children
|Tuck see Tocht
|The core of an apple. ‘When you’re finished, will ye give us the ucks.’
|An old name for St Finbarr’s hospital which was formerly the Cork Union workhouse. An older generation of Cork people had a great fear of ending up in the ‘Union’.
|Wax a gaza
|Climb up a gas lamp. Often used as a way of telling someone to go away. ‘Go wax a gaza for yourself.’
|‘Gaza’ is slang for gas lamp
|A wasp. ‘I got stung by a wazzie’
|Wide see ‘Be doggy wide’
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