20 Irish Words You’re Gonna Wish You Could Use in English

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Not too many people in the world speak Irish – a Celtic language that’s a cousin of other ancient languages like Welsh, Scots, Manx, and Breton. One reason is that it’s particularly tough for native English speakers to master because of a complex grammar, varied inflection, and other linguistic constructs that don’t really exist in English.

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In addition, the Irish alphabet is comprised of just 18 letters, and the pronunciation is…difficult. If you’re looking to be able to pronounce the words below, check out the University of Dublin’s online Irish speech synthesizer.


The fine spell of weather between two showers of rain.


A drink or toast used to seal a deal.


Literally it means clatter, but it refers to the sound of heavy rain on a rooftop.


The gap between your fingers and toes – a ladhar bothairis is a fork in the road.


It’s derived from the word for late-night wandering, or for sitting up talking long into the early hours – a ragaire is someone who enjoys those things.


The feeling of unease or anxiety caused by being somewhere new or being in a crowd of strangers.


The amount of something that can be carried under one arm.


An “elegy for the living,” or a sad lament for someone who is gone but not dead.


A riff-raff or rabble of people, but also a random collection of worthless or useless objects.


The part heaped above a too-full container. Also, someone who sticks out from a crowd or a small knoll or hill.


Something that is ruined or spoiled by exposure to bad weather – plants, soaking clothes, or even one’s health.


Rambunctious behavior, but also a sudden or violent downpour of rain.


An egg without a shell; soft, unsteady ground; mushy, overcooked food; or a spineless person.


Grass that can’t be easily reached to be cut, like the longer grass at the edge of a field or lawn.


Trying to speak while crying and being unable to make yourself clear.


Someone who takes part in the traditional custom of “night-visiting,” in which everyone in a village or area would go to a local’s home for an evening of music and entertainment.

It can also be used to describe someone who likes working or staying up late into the night.


It can mean lame or limping, but also a beggar or someone who outstays their welcome or drags their heels.


The practice of calling on all your neighbors to catch up on all the gossip.


A sinking boat half submerged in water, or a place where there is a danger of drowning.


It literally means “buck-jumping,” but could also refer to an energetic, excitable leap into the air – a jump for joy.

If I ever have time to learn a new language I know which one I’m choosing!