25 Irish Slang Terms You Should Know

iStock.com/levers2007
iStock.com/levers2007

People in Ireland speak English, but not exactly the "Queen’s English." With a little help from the Gaelic language—called Irish—the populace of the Emerald Isle have devised their very own myriad of weird and wonderful words and phrases. Here are a few Irish colloquialisms to help you understand the next person from Derry, Dublin, or Donegal that you come in contact with:

  1. Craic (pronounced "crack"): This is the big one. Originally crack as used by Ulster Scots, the Gaelic spelling of the word was not widely used in Ireland until it was popularized as the catchphrase of the Irish-language TV show SBB ina Shuí starting in the 1970s. Now, craic is probably the word most commonly used by Irish people across the world. The word has a pretty simple meaning, however—"general banter" or "fun."
  1. Wee: Small. Everything in Ireland is wee. Absolutely everything. If Big Shaq was Irish, he’d have been called "Wee Shaq."
  1. Wean (pronounced "wayne"): A child.
  1. Lethal/leefs: Mainly used in the northwest of Ireland, these words both mean "great"; leefs is short for "lethal."
  1. Quare (pronounced "kware"): An odd-looking word that also means "great," or "very."
  1. Feck off: Quite possibly Ireland’s greatest achievement, this phrase is the perfect way to curse without technically cursing. Replace the e with a u, and you have what this slang term means.
  1. Dooter: A wee (see above) walk.
  1. Saunter: A slightly brisker walk. Almost a strut, but with less shoulder movement and self-confidence.
  1. Aye/Naw: Yes/no.
  1. Yes: Hello (this one doesn’t make sense—we know that).
  1. Lashing: Raining heavily.
  1. Slag: Used as a verb, it means to make a joke at someone else’s expense.
  1. Wired to the moon: You know that feeling you get when you’ve enjoyed a fairly big Tuesday night in a club, and then stumble into work the next morning after downing six espresso shots at the nearest Starbucks? Yes, that is what being "wired to the moon" is.
  1. Jesus, Mary & Joseph: When it comes to blasphemy, there are no half measures in Ireland. As a historically religious country, blasphemy is relatively frowned upon, so when an Irish person it absolutely necessary to take the Lord’s name in vain, they do so by taking Jesus’s whole family in vain.
  1. Cat: Bad … because apparently Irish people think cats are bad?
  1. Brock: Also bad.
  1. Eejit: A person who is a bit of an idiot.
  1. While man/woman: A person who is also a bit of an idiot.
  1. Melter: And yet another person who is a bit of an idiot, or at least very annoying.
  1. Haven’t a baldies: When you are unsure of an answer to a question.
  1. Wind your neck in: The perfect way to take someone who is overly arrogant down a peg or two? Tell them to "wind their neck in."
  1. Yonks: A long time.
  1. Bake: Face.
  1. Juke: A wee (see way above) look.
  1. All lured: Delighted.

The Ohio State University Is Trying to Trademark the ‘The’ in Its Name

As any good Ohioan knows, there’s a big difference between an Ohio state university and The Ohio State University. But with countless other public colleges across the state, including the similarly named Ohio University, it’s not hard for out-of-towners or prospective students to get confused. To further distinguish themselves from other institutions (and to capitalize on merchandise opportunities, no doubt), The Ohio State University is pursuing a trademark for the The in its name.

According to Smithsonian.com, trademark lawyer Josh Gerben first broke the news on Twitter, where he shared a short video that included the trademark application itself, as well as examples of how the university plans to use the word on apparel. One is a white hat emblazoned with a red THE, and the other is a red scoop-necked T-shirt with a white THE and the Ohio State logo beneath it. Gerben predicts that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will initially deny the trademark request on the basis that those examples aren’t sufficient trademark use, but the university would have an opportunity to try again.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that university spokesperson Chris Davey confirmed the trademark application, saying that “Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks.” He’s not exaggerating; the university has secured trademarks for legendary coaches Urban Meyer and Woody Hayes, plus more than 150 trademarks and pending applications across an impressive 17 countries.

The school's 2017 request to trademark the initials "OSU" provoked an objection from Oklahoma State University, which is also known as OSU, but the two schools eventually decided that they could both use it, as long as each refrained from producing clothing or content that could cause confusion about which school was being referenced.

The Ohio State University, perhaps most famous for its marching band, public research endeavors, and legendary athletic teams, is not impervious to social media mockery, however.

Ohio University responded with this:

And the University of Michigan, OSU’s longtime sports rival, suggested that it should trademark of:

However bizarre this trademark may seem, it's far from the weirdest request th Patent and Trademark Office has ever received. Check out these colors and scents that are also trademarked.

[h/t Smithsonian.com]

Where Did the Term Brownie Points Come From?

bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images
bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images

In a Los Angeles Times column published on March 15, 1951, writer Marvin Miles observed a peculiar phrase spreading throughout his circle of friends and the social scene at large. While standing in an elevator, he overheard the man next to him lamenting “lost brownie points.” Later, in a bar, a friend of Miles's who had stayed out too late said he would never “catch up” on his brownie points.

Miles was perplexed. “What esoteric cult was this that immersed men in pixie mathematics?” he wrote. It was, his colleagues explained, a way of keeping “score” with their spouses, of tallying the goodwill they had accrued with the “little woman.”

Over the decades, the phrase brownie points has become synonymous with currying favor, often with authority figures such as teachers or employers. So where exactly did the term come from, and what happens when you “earn” them?

The most pervasive explanation is that the phrase originated with the Brownies, a subsect of the Girl Scouts who were encouraged to perform good deeds in their communities. The Brownies were often too young to be official Girl Scouts and were sometimes the siblings of older members. Originally called Rosebuds in the UK, they were renamed Brownies when the first troops were being organized in 1916. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, who had formed the Boy Scouts and was asked to name this new Girl Scout division, dubbed them Brownies after the magical creatures of Scottish folklore that materialized to selflessly help with household chores.

But the Brownies are not the only potential source. In the 1930s, kids who signed up to deliver magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and Ladies' Home Journal from Curtis Publishing were eligible for vouchers labeled greenies and brownies that they could redeem for merchandise. They were not explicitly dubbed brownie points, but it’s not hard to imagine kids applying a points system to the brownies they earned.

The term could also have been the result of wartime rationing in the 1940s, where red and brown ration points could be redeemed for meats.

The phrase didn’t really seem to pick up steam until Miles's column was published. In this context, the married men speaking to Miles believed brownie points could be collected by husbands who remembered birthdays and anniversaries, stopped to pick up the dry cleaning, mailed letters, and didn’t spend long nights in pubs speaking to newspaper columnists. The goal, these husbands explained, was never to get ahead; they merely wanted to be considered somewhat respectable in the eyes of their wives.

Later, possibly as a result of its usage in print, grade school students took the phrase to mean an unnecessary devotion to teachers in order to win them over. At a family and faculty meeting at Leon High in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1956, earning brownie points was said to be a serious problem. Also called apple polishing, it prompted other students in class to shame their peers for being friendly to teachers. As a result, some were “reluctant to be civil” for fear they would be harassed for sucking up.

In the decades since that time, the idiom has become attached to any act where goodwill can be expected in return, particularly if it’s from someone in a position to reward the act with good grades or a promotion. As for Miles: the columnist declared his understanding of brownie points came only after a long night of investigation. Arriving home late, he said, rendered him “pointless.”

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