Belfast & Northern Ireland

How till spake Norn Iron (A guide to local phrases)

more than a year ago

There's no better way to get to know the city and its people than to mingle with the locals and engage in a bit of light-hearted 'banter'.

So if you want to know the difference between a minger and a munter or why tea is different from tae, or add your suggestions, just consult 'How til spake Norn Iron' and you'll be talking the talk before you know it...big lad!

Here's our A-Y (because we can't think of a Z) online guide to speaking the local lingo, like:

The sculpture 'Eco' located outside the New Library at the Queen's University of Belfast © William Murphy, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 _2000px
The sculpture 'Eco' located outside the New Library at the Queen's University of Belfast © William Murphy, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

A is for...

Ach: A regional word that's usually placed at the start of a sentence. “Ach go on.”, “Ach you know?”
Arse: Bottom, bum. “A kick up the arse.”
Ascared: Combination of the words afraid and scared. “I'm ascared of heights.”
Ats Us Nai: 'That is us now'. We have successfully completed the task in hand. 
Aye: Yes. “Aye, I'll have a pint if you're buying.”

B is for...

Bake: Mouth/face. “Shut your bake”, “Look at the bake on her”. Also Bakebook: Facebook.
Banjaxed: Broken. “Darling, the bog is banjaxed, call a plumber”
Banter: Craic, fun chatter. “Let's go for a pint and some banter”
Beezer: Good, fantastic “Your new car is beezer mate.” (Rosemary – London)
Big Lad: A robust young gentleman. “Alright big lad?”
Bout Ye!: Greeting, How are you? “Bout ye big lad, let's go for a swall.” (Glenn Kelly – Belfast)

C is for...

C' mere: A command. “Come here”
Catch yourself on!: An expression, translated as “Get a hold of yourself!”, “Wise up!”
Clinker: Similar to Beezer. “My new bike is clinker.” (Eimear – Belfast/Glasgow)
Coupon: Face. “Look at the state of the coupon on yer woman.” (Eimear – Belfast/Glasgow)

Cracker: Good. “That restaurant was cracker”
Craic: Fun, to have a good time. “The craic is mighty lads, get the beers in” (alt sp crack)

D is for...

Da: Father. “I seen your Da in the pub last night”
Dander: Walk. “Let's go for a dander”
Dead-On: Good, decent, alright. “I like him, he's dead-on”
Does my head in: Expression. Someone who really annoys you. “That dipso does my head in”

E is for...

Eejit : An Idiot. “You are an eejit”

F is for...

Faffin': Messing around, acting an eejit. “Stop faffin' around and do some work”
Fegs: Cigarettes. “Can I have twenty fegs and a can of coke?”
Fiddle: A Violin. “Get that fiddle out and let's have a sing-song”
Fire: Throw. “I was out firing stones at the peelers”

G is for...

Grand: Good. “That's grand, I'll see you at half-eleven”
Gub: Mouth. “I've got a sore gub”
Guddies: Trainers. “Look at my belter new guddies”

H is for...

Haul: Hold. “Your man can't haul his beer”, “Haul my jacket”
Hoak: Rummage. “That wee man hoaks through the bins”
Hole: Bottom, Bum. “Get your lazy hole out of bed and go to work”
Hoop: Bum, bottom. “That child has a face like my hoop”

I is for...

I tell a lie: Expression, meaning you've made an error. “I tell a lie, I do remember who you father is”
I'll do you!: Expression, meaning you're in big trouble. “I'll knock you out big-lad”, “You're going to receive a thump”
Is that you?: Regional question. “Are you finished?”, “Are you ready?”
Is your head cut?: Expression, meaning are you wise? “Why did you buy a chocolate fire guard, is your head cut?”

J is for...

Jammie: Lucky. “That jammie sod just won the lottery”
Jam Jar: Slang. Car. “I've bought a brand new jam jar”
Jaunty: Tracksuit wearing moron, usually found loitering outside shopping centres with nowhere else to go. May also be sporting a bum-fluff moustache.

K is for...

Keepin' Dick: Keeping Lookout. “Keep-dick for me while I rob this jewellers”
Kex: Underwear. “I have to go a buy new kex for my honeymoon”
Kilty-Caul-Bum: Expression/song, meaning Kilty-cold-bottom, a Scottish gentleman with no underwear. “One for me and one for you and one for kilty-caul-bum”

L is for...

Lamped: Punched. “I lamped yer man after he called me a nasty name”
Lamps: Eyes. “I cried my lamps out”, “I got my lamps punched last night”
Lump: Lazy, “Get out of bed you big lump and get a job”
Lifted: Arrested. “Wee Stevie got lifted by the peelers last night”

M is for...

Ma: Mother. “How's your Ma?”
Melter: An annoying person who gets on your nerves. “That wee girl is a melter.” (Rosemary – London)
Minger: Ugly, an unattractive person. “You're such a minger”
Munter: An unattractive woman dressed inappropriately for her age and covered in fake tan. "Yer Ma's a munter"
Mucker: Mate, pal. “Alright mucker, fancy a pint?”

N is for...

Naff: Stupid, crap. “Your new car is naff”
Neb: Nose. “Yer man has some neb on him, it's massive”
Norn Iron: Slang/dialect. Northern Ireland. “I hope Norn Iron win the World Cup”
Nuck: Steal. “I didn't nuck your milk”

O is for...

Offie: Off Licence. “Let's go to the offie and buy some beer”
Oul: Old. “This pub is really oul”
Oul-Doll: Old Lady. “That oul-doll looks like your Ma”
Oul-Lad: Old Man. “That oul-lad lives up our street”

P is for...

Pastie-Lip: Someone with a big bottom lip. “Here comes pastie-lip with his new girlfriend”
Peelers: Police. “The peelers do my head in”
Poke: Ice-Cream. “Ma, can I have a poke with sprinkles on it?”
Pull: Go on a romantic conquest, usually on a Friday and Saturday night at a disco. “Right, pass my aftershave, I'm going on the pull tonight”

R is for...

Ragin': Angry, fuming. “£15 for a taxi, I was ragin'!” (Anna - Belfast)
Ratten: Rotting, disgusting. “Those prawns were ratten”
Reddener: Embarrassed. “I took an awful reddener when I fell off my chair”
Right: Assertive, usually applied at the start of a sentence. “Right, I'm away home for my tea”
Runner: Run away, flee with speed. “Here come the peelers, let's do a runner!”

S is for...

Scundered: Embarrassed. “Look at yer man's trousers, I'm scundered for 'em!” (Anna - Belfast)
Sound: Dead on, easy going. “Yer Da is sound”
Spake: Pronunciation - Speak. “Shut up and let me spake”
Spuds: Potatoes. “Get the spuds on love, I'm starvin'”
Stickin' Out!: Fantastic! “I'm stickin' out big lad and how are you?”

T is for...

Tae: Pronunciation - Tea. “Put the kettle on and we'll have a cup of tae”
Tea: Dinner. “Jimmy, your tea is ready”
Tele: Belfast Telegraph, a Belfast newspaper. “Give me the Tele and a packet of crisps”
Till: To. “Are you coming till the shops?”

V is for...

Veda: Malted bread native to Northern Ireland. Lovely with some butter and cheese.

W is for...

Wee: Small. Used by every single Northern Irish person. “Have a wee bun”, “Would you like a wee bag?”
What about ye?: Greeting. “How are you?”
Wick: Stupid, useless. “That new Glentoran kit is wick”
Windee: Window. “Someone broke my windee”

Y is for...

Ya: You. “Ya look like my Ma”
Yarn: Talk. “I had a good yarn with your Ma”
Yer: You're. “Yer my best mate”
Youse: You Lot. “Youse keep the noise down, I'm trying to sleep!”


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