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05th Jun 2024

18 of the greatest Irish curse words and insults – defined at last


A lovely curse for every occasion

For centuries and millennia long before we all pretended we liked each other, the people of Ireland spent the long, rainy days hurling abuse at each other – and no harm to them.

For swearing in Ireland is not as intense as swearing is in any other nation (we’re looking at you America), this is an expression in its truest form – and the only way Irish people know how.

Let’s have a few examples:

18. Harmless

Potentially one of the most brutal of all the slags, a “harmless” person is someone that you don’t really take much notice of and do not contend with. To borrow an incredible phrase from Mad Men when Don Draper is joined in the lift by Michael Ginsberg after a creative tussle in a pitch Draper proceeds to tell him “I don’t think about you at all”.

17. Gombeen

For those of you who have never heard this before, you either grew up in Sandymount or probably thought it was a mystical creature of some sort. According to Wikipedia, (yes, Wikipedia actually has a page entitled ‘Gombeen man‘) a Gombeen is a term used in Ireland for a shady, small-time ‘wheeler-dealer’ or businessman who is always looking to make a quick profit, often at someone else’s expense or through the acceptance of bribes. So, basically – a little squirrelly crook who’d peel an orange in his pocket so he wouldn’t have to share.


16. Gobdaw

Someone entirely different. Seen as a bit of a twit, hasn’t got their shit together and never will. Known to come from the Irish gabhdán meaning ‘gullible person’. Widely considered to not be the sharpest crayon in the box, a bit dumb, like.

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15. Bollocks

Kind of endearing, but also lacking in cop-on. Not a huge leap from gobdaw, but a definite step up all the same. A bollocks can be frequently found trick-acting or up to something they shouldn’t be. Often spelt ‘bollix’, usually used with a preceding ‘ye’, or if you’re from Sligo: ‘ya aul’.

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14. Fecker

They get away with murder, and they know it. The fecker is always up to something and is never too transparent on their motives. A fecker is a slight step down from a “f*cker” but no less potent a slag.

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13. Dope

Generally used in an encouraging way to try to get someone to be better or work quicker e.g. “Hurry the feck on, ya dope!”. Either pronounced with an elongated Z sound after the D, if you’re from The Big Shmoke – otherwise it’s said more like ‘dawwwwwp’ if the midlands is your stomping ground.


12. Gobshite

Another word dripping in affection, something we Irish just don’t know how to handle. Good value to have on the sesh, but not really someone you’d grab a coffee with. Helpful to have around nonetheless as they generally take the unenviable job of being the butt of the joke.

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11. Gowl

A word that legend has it, is written on every page of the Book of Kells because it’s so bloody relevant. A gowl is someone who eggs a gaff, trips over a hedgehog after legging it in the wrong direction, drops his phone down a manhole and then literally drives into a Garda car.

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10. Eejit

An individual who continually acts in a pretty silly manner despite all the warnings and past behaviours. Generally seen as a harmless type of person who can’t help being a bit of an eejit at times.

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9. So-and-so

Generally, a term is given to someone that you don’t really know but through your limited time with them you aren’t particularly fond of. You potentially know their name but you aren’t really arsed learning it, which is sometimes fair.

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8. Cute hoor

An individual who you generally don’t trust, they are capable of using shady business to achieve what they want. Never trust a cute hoor has far as you can throw them, since you never truly know the motives of them.

7. Thick

Someone who hasn’t been blessed in the intelligence department, but is widely considered to be ‘harmless’ and not having any negative motives. A thick can often hide this part about them, only to unveil it in a very public way, by saying something absolutely THICK.

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6. Hussy

A little shkirt who flirts her way around the town only to inevitably receive the nickname ‘brazen hussy’ and become excommunicated from all the farming families with land in the tri-county area. She’s generally absolutely harmless, and the name is an unfortunate kickback from the horrendous stranglehold Catholicism had on the country for centuries.

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5. Pup

Bit more than a brat, a bit less than a prick. Skating on a very fine line, and would definitely lamp a box at some guy in a club for the craic-like. Someone can generally start out as a pup and grow into an out and out dickhead with time, so it’s best to watch a pup closely.

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4. Scut

Bit of a useless sod, who doesn’t do much and spends most of their life horizontal. The main meals would be bowls of cereal. Not much craic. Will keep a secret to the grave, however, purely because they’ll 100% forget what you’ve told them within minutes.

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3. Wagon

A woman so foul and pure evil, she’d make Ms Trunchbull look like just your ordinary bad bitch. Inflicts cruel and unusual punishments on her prey and is, all in all, a bit of a meanie. They generally used to be kinda hot, but lost it with either the rise of puberty or the fall of the middle-aged spread.

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2. Dryshite

The most embarrassing of them all. You’re just no fun, no value and you bring nothing to the table apart from your gloomy disposition and the puss on your face. Famously only ever goes for the fabled one pint.

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1. And finally, tool

A word that tends to throw people off and really get ya where it hurts. A tool is a dope mixed with a gowl mixed with a gobshite. A tool will say a sentence and say ‘NAAT’ at the end, just to be a tool. A tool will spit in your hand before shaking it at Mass. And a tool leaves the empty milk cartons in the fridge. Needless to say, to be avoided.

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