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“Ara look at the poor craythur” – a dictionary of odd Irish words

Woejus, cat, quare… they’re all here.

WE IRISH ARE famous for having the gift of the gab.

We also have our own charming way of expressing ourselves, from saying something is “cat” to finishing a sentence with “inallandanyways”. Here’s a handy breakdown of what it all means…

  • Ara

Ara is used to give an indication that you’re really not too fussed about something. It can also be used to start pretty much any sentence:

Ara I might go. I might not.
  • Ara Musha

When ara is used in conjunction with musha then it means something else entirely. It’s a term of endearment or affection:

Ara musha you poor craythur, you’ll be grand
  • Craythur

There is a world of difference between calling someone a “creature” and calling someone a “craythur”. A craythur deserves some kind of sympathy or empathy, and the word is usually preceeded by “poor”:

The poor craythur fell into the ditch, but she’ll be grand.
  • Sca

Sca is akin to ‘craic’ or ‘news’.

Any sca?
  • Dowtcha bai

A Cork saying, dowtcha boy basically means “well done” or more literally “I don’t doubt you, boy”:

I got the shift last night
Dowtcha bai!

Image: Shutterstock

  • Woejus

Something that is particularly crap, or “cat”:

That new Crystal Swing song is only woejus.
  • Cat

Something that is particularly crap or woejus. It is a contraction of the saying “cat melodeon” or “cat melojen”.

Your one’s outfit is totally cat.
  • Quare

Putting “quare” before a word adds emphasis. It’s most often heard coming out of a Carlow person’s mouth:

That batter burger is quare tasty.
  • Yerra

Similar to “ara”, the word “yerra” indicates that you really couldn’t give a toss about something:

Did your one ring you after you got the shift?
Yerra she was cat anyway.
  • Inallandanyways

A more complicated way of saying ‘anyway’, usually heard in the Dublin area:

I’m going to go and see him meself inallandanyways.

13 words you’ll never hear outside of Ireland>

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About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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