Story Bud? A video of Dublin phrases, with notes

Story Bud? is a fun video by Jenny Keogh that’s doing the rounds. It’s a rapid-fire two-minute clip of Dublin slang and colloquial expressions. They’re not all peculiar to Dublin – some are heard around Ireland or in other countries – but they all have currency in Irish English speech and offer a fine flavour of Dublin’s vernacular.

Certain lines may be hard to decipher, especially for non-Irish people. The accents are quite strong, and some of the expressions are strange if you haven’t heard them before. So I’ve typed them out below, with notes, and numbered them for ease of reference. (The video itself also supplies occasional glosses.)



1. Come here till I tell ya. [See my post on this Irish use of till.]

2. I was down with yer man. You know yer man.

3. I met her gettin’ off the Daniel Day. […Lewis = Luas, Dublin’s light rail system.]

4. She’d an awful puss on her. [Puss = pout or frown; discussed briefly in my post on cnáimhseáil.]

5. Nearly had a canary. [Had a fit, metaphorically.]

6. She lost the rag. [She lost her temper.]

7. Ah yer man threw the head. [= lost the head, i.e., lost his temper.]

8. Me nerves were shot.

9. Me head is melted.

10. She’s a miserable article. [This article can be used with affection or derogation.]

11. Sure her nerves are at her. She’s a very soft person.

12. Sure this is it. [I strongly agree.]

13. I wouldn’t mind, she’s a skinny malink.

14. Go (a)way out o’ that. [Expression of surprise. Similar to Shut up, Would you don’t be talkin’, and Would you stop (see 56–57).]

15. Story bud? [Short for What’s the story, buddy? = What’s going on? / What’s the news?]

16. There’s head-the-ball. [T. P. Dolan defines this as “a crazy, happy-go-lucky sort of person”; Bernard Share says it means “fool”. Slang supremo Jonathon Green told me the citations he has “suggest defs going from neutral fool to full-on psychotic, synon. with ‘headbanger’. No evidence of happy go lucky”.]

17. Whose gaff are we meetin’ at?

18. What’s the craic? [=15]

19. Any scandal? [Used generically of gossip or news.]

20. Are ya goin’ for a jar?

21. I’m Lee Marvin out (of) me nogger. [Rhyming slang for starvin’ “very hungry”, though starving/starved can also mean cold or freezing.]

22. Me belly thinks me throat is cut. [An old phrase. It appears in P. W. Joyce’s English As We Speak It In Ireland (1910).]

23. You’re what?

24. I’m starvin’.

25. Is that cooker on?

26. Ravenous I am.

27. D’ya want a package o’ crips? [Playful variation on packet of crisps.]

28. The head on him and the price o’ turnips.

29. He’s an awful bleedin’ chancer. [Crafty person, risk-taker, rogue.]

30. (I’m) tellin’ ya, I wouldn’t be with him, he’d only scourge ya. [He would torment or plague you (sometimes refers to sex).]

31. I’m as sick as the plane to Lourdes.

32. Banjoed. [Not to be confused with banjaxed “broken, ruined”.]

33. I was in tatters. [Very hungover.]

34. Absolutely knackered. [Exhausted.]

35. I nearly broke me snot. [Tripped.]

36. I was only morto. [Mortified. See my post on faddish clippings.]

37. Scarleh for yeh. [Scarlet, i.e., blushing.]

38. Scarlet for yer ma. [I’m embarrassed on behalf of your mother.]

39. Scarlet for me life.

40. Don’t worry – you’ll be grand. [Grand in Ireland usually means fine, all right – nothing to do with size or impressiveness.]

41. Have you got your ecker done? [Ecker = (homework) exercises.]

42. What?

43. You’re thinkin’? Mind you don’t hurt your head. [Said to someone who’s slow with an answer and stalls by saying “I’m thinking.” Jenny tells me this is normally said by an older person to a younger one.]

44. That’s savage.

45. That’s whopper.

46. That’s deadly.

47. He was only massive. [Good-looking, or attractive to the speaker.]

48. State of her.

49. The cut o’ yer one.

50. The hack o’ him.

51. I’m only messin’ with yeh.

52. Relax the khaks.

53. I will in me eye. [Also: I will in my hole/hoop/arse, etc. It’s an emphatic I won’t.]

54. What planet is she on?

55. If you don’t stop yer messin’, there’ll be wigs on the green. [An old expression referring to a brawl.]

56. Ah would ya stop. [Don’t stop, i.e., keep talking.]

57. Stop the lights. [Expression of surprise or consternation. Catchphrase from a 1970s radio show, I think Quicksilver, an old Irish TV quiz show.]

58. No way.

59. Are you for real? [= Are you serious?]

60. Get the boat.

61. Janey Mac! [Euphemistic form of Jesus!]

62. Face was manky. [Manky = dirty, disgusting.]

63. Mouldy.

64. It’s an awful kip. [Untidy or unsavoury place; less commonly, a brothel.]

65. Says I to her, says she to me.

66. Did you see the thing anywhere, I’m lookin’ for it, I need it for the yoke. [Yoke in Ireland is a placeholder word.]

67. The thingummybob.

68. That yoke is banjaxed. [That thing is broken.]

69. You’re what?

70. Keep sketch, will ya? [Keep a lookout.]

71. Peg it, he’s chasin’ ya. [Peg it = Leg it, i.e., run.]

72. Give us a shot o’ that. [Let me have a go/turn.]

73. You’re wreckin’ me buzz. [You’re destroying my pleasure/peace of mind.]

74. Ah don’t be so scabby. [Stingy, mean.]

75. Sure he’d take the eye out of yer head and come back for the eyelashes.

76. All you have is your character. [All you have is your reputation, your good name. So be good.]

77. Jaypers! [Another minced oath.]


A few lines gave me trouble until Jenny Keogh, the director, helped me out. If I’ve erred with any transcriptions or interpretations, corrections are welcome – as are general comments. Jenny says she’s planning several more videos celebrating Irish slang and phrases. Deadly buzz!

[more posts on Hiberno-English]

25 Responses to Story Bud? A video of Dublin phrases, with notes

  1. aslathair says:

    I find ‘head-the-ball’ is often used to mean yer man or what’s-his-face with ‘a head-the-ball’ meaning a slightly crazy person.

    Might just be me though.

  2. Eimear says:

    “Stop the lights” is from Quicksilver, a TV quiz program presented by Bunny Carr, with a board that lit up symbols of gradually increasing but nevertheless tiny amounts of prize money.

  3. […] your Dublin slang (see Stan Carey’s Sentence First blog for further […]

  4. Best consumed with the video on the left half of the screen, finger over the pause button, and a duplicate of the blog post open on the right half of the screen for the transcripts, to scroll down as necessary.

    Re #18, have you seen the movie? It’s a lot more slow-paced than movie watchers are generally accustomed to, but everyone should watch it at least once.

    Re #53, I’ve heard the Irish “in my eye” before (in poetry), but not had enough information to decode it unambiguously. So, “in fiction”, basically. The obvious hypothesis is that it originally referred to illusions where something appears to be true that isn’t really, and later generalised to fictions that aren’t even apparently true.

  5. Stan says:

    aslathair: Thanks. I don’t use the phrase myself, so I’m interested in how others do. In school we used header to refer to someone who’s a bit crazy or wild. Bernard Share’s book Slanguage says a head-the-ball is a fool.

    Eimear: You’re right, it was TV. I’ve updated the post. Apparently contestants could pass on a question by shouting “Stop the lights!”, and the line caught on. I heard it quite often as a child, but I never saw Quicksilver.

    Adrian: Good tip on reading/watching it: two windows definitely seems the most convenient method of parallel consumption. I’ve never seen The Craic, and I don’t mind slow films if they’re any good, so I’ll keep your recommendation in mind if it crosses my path sometime. There are lots of other variations on “in my eye”, many of them crude, but I don’t know which was used first or how it came about.

  6. […] there’s the slang. When I moved here, not only did I have to work hard to understand the accent, but Irish slang is […]

  7. wisewebwoman says:

    Gosh I wish I could find a video of a fellow Corkonian in a live show a few years aback who said just about all of the above but just with physical gestures and head and eye movements. :)

  8. mollymooly says:

    “Janey Mac” is rather a euphemistic form of “Jaysus”.

    In my Cork childhood we said “Jesus”, never “Jaysus”; consequently our euphemism was “Jeanie Mac” (or perhaps “Genie Mac”).

  9. […] Stan Carey translated some wonderful Dublin phrases. […]

  10. Stan says:

    WWW: That sounds marvellous. Do send me a link if you ever come across it.

    mollymooly: Well, yes. Ultimately the same referent, though different vowel sounds are used.

  11. Shaun Downey says:

    Excelent! I was familiar with a lot of them but some were new on me! Now what is needed is one for Cork

  12. My wife’s family (Dubliners) say “Jaimie Mac” rather than Janey.

    And I’m surprised no one mentioned “mott” or “mickey”.

  13. Stan says:

    Martyn: I’ve heard that version the odd time, but never adopted it. Gee whizz neither.

  14. […] to understand a word of this. Fortunately, Stan Carey over at Sentence first has got that covered: here’s a handy list of each phrase used. Number 15 explains the […]

  15. […] dishevelled or strikingly unusual) – or it can suggest someone is self-important, as in this video of Dublin slang. Like many Irish insults, its […]

  16. […] Story Bud?, the video of Irish slang and colloquialisms I shared here in February? Director Jenny Keogh has […]

  17. […] a word of this. Fortunately, Stan Carey over at Sentence first has got that covered: here’s a handy list of each phrase used. Number 15 explains the […]

  18. […] fascinating blog of an Irishman elucidating a video of Dublin phrases.  You’re in for a treat if you make posts from Sentence first a regular part of your […]

  19. […] informal, and the latter is gently or affectionately pejorative. You can hear it in this video of Dublin phrases. Yoke can even serve as a root, like thing in the permutations above, yielding words such as yokeamabob, yokeamajig, and […]

  20. […] case you thought you understand English, try this. But, hey, you’ll get used to that, where else you will find a friendlier […]

  21. Edward Barrett says:

    There are several on the list I’ve heard in Liverpool – many quite commonly.

    6 (though it would have ‘her’ rather than ‘the’); 8; 9 (we’d say “head’s” rather than “head is”); 13; 16; 17 (though possibly self-consciously using “gaff” as slang); 20; not quite 21, though we might say “I’m Hank Marvin”; we’d use 22, but mostly about the lack of an alcoholic drink, I think; 23; 24; 25; half of 28 (“The head on him”); 34; 48; 51; 54; 58; 59; from 62, we’d use “manky”; 67; 69.

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