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7 Irish words that don't exist in English

Bit of plámás, be grand.

HAPPY SEACHTAIN NA Gaeilge! Have you been celebrating the lovely Irish language over the past few days? Good on you.

In honour of the week that’s in it, here are some Irish words that have no real English equivalent. What a funny little language we have.


Spain Georgia May Jagger AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

What it means: The gap between your upper front teeth.

In English, we have ‘diastema’, which can mean any sort of gap between any of your teeth. But Irish has a specific word for the gap between your two front teeth, just because.


TURKEY GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

What it means: Long, lean, languid person.

Got a tall, lanky friend? Now you have one neat word to describe/insult them with.


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What it means: Spring tide.

This word can also be used metaphorically to mean a ‘flood’ or ‘abundance’ of something, but really it refers directly to a spring tide.


storc / Derek O'Brien / Derek O'Brien / Derek O'Brien

What it means: The corpse of someone who dies in an upright posture.

This is a very old Irish word (see the image from an absolutely ancient Irish dictionary above) – we really can’t imagine what drove someone to coin the term. Grim.


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What it means: Flattery, soft talk.

We’re quite familiar with this one, simply because there is no English word quite like it - it means flattery, yes, but a certain type of flattery. One that’s used to soften someone up, bend them to your will…


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What it means: An Irish person who imitates British ways.

This, ironically, inspired the English word ‘shoneen’, which can be used to refer to someone who behaves obsequiously to someone important (a lick, in other words).


shutterstock_110803001 Shutterstock Shutterstock

What it means: A lanky, lazy person.

Another one that’s made its way over into regular usage, mostly as another way to say ‘eejit’. Its real meaning is not exactly the same as that, though – it means someone who’s lazy and a bit useless.

A big H/T to @DirkVanBryn

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