Irish Sayings to Use in American Pubs on St. Patrick’s Day

So, you’re an American, but you’ve decided to spend St. Patrick's Day out with your pals and partake in the yearly ritual of getting fluthered, scuttered, or locked. (Confused already? Keep reading.) Ah, yes, that once-a-year tradition where green glitter and orange do go together, where East meets West, North meets South, and all is right in this world.

Read More: If carousing isn’t your thing and you prefer gargling at home watching the teilifís, read about 17 Irish Actors to Watch on St. Patrick's Day over at AMC.

To make the most of the night, take a few moments to expand your festive vocabulary with this handy list of Irish sayings. Impress your friends! Make new ones! You’ll surely be the center of attention with your newfound linguistic skills. (Just be sure NOT to use any of these terms and phrases, whatever you do.)

So, let's get started with some basics:


A slang term for beer or alcohol. While some believe the roots of the expression come from literally gargling alcohol, it remains unproven.

Example: “I’m going to get a gargle.”


The verb form of gargle. In other words, drinking.

Example: “Hey (insert name here), let’s go garglin’ and dim our poor brains a bit.”


This one might raise a few eyebrows. Pronounced crack, and used in phrases like “Any craic?”, “How’s the craic?”, “What’s the craic?”, it roughly translates to the American saying, “How’s it going?” or more literally to fun or joyful revelry. If someone poses the question to you, show your Irish savvy and reply “Divil a bit” meaning, “Not much.”

Black Stuff

Guinness. The brand was founded in 1759 when Arthur Guinness bought a small brewery in Dublin. He originally brewed a variety of ales and beers, but in 1799 decided to focus exclusively on porter – a dark beer with a rich head. And thus, the national beer of Ireland was born. You can’t be Irish if you don’t order a pint of the black stuff.


To the uninitiated, it's the Irish form of "cheers," but the literal translation is "health." Pronounced slaan-sha or slawn-chea.

Read More: American Words to Avoid at an Irish Pub on St. Patrick’s Day

Once you're getting the hang of things, take it to the next level with these conversational phrases:

Bang on

Right, accurate, or correct. Although used mostly by those in the U.K., the origin of the phrase is rumored to be from the American word "bang," meaning "exactly." Perhaps keeping this knowledge to yourself would be for the best. No need to stir trouble in an Irish pub.

Example: "Your description of this place was bang on.”


Wrecked or ruined. The word’s origins are unknown, but it is similar to the Scottish word "banjoed" or to be hit as hard as possible, and subsequently wrecked? Decide for yourself.

Example: “The plan was banjaxed when (insert name here) showed up.”


Sulky face. Of Celtic origin akin to mouth or lip.

Example:“Take that puss off your face and gargle.”


Great or brilliant.

Example: That’s a savage idea!”


Extremely stupid.

Example: “(Insert name here) is thick as a plank.”


Listen now.

Example: “C’mere-ta-me, there’s a great deal of sense outside your head. All that garglin’ has dimmed your brain a bit.”


Bathroom. For when you’ll inevitably need to break the seal.

Example: “Time to use the jacks.”

Finally, if you've made it through the evening without starting a brawl, bust out these phrases when you're ready to call it a night:

Crack on

Get going.

Example: “I must crack on. Otherwise, I’ll be banjaxed in the morning.”

Fluthered, Scuttered, Locked

Drunk. A small sampling of Irish words all meaning the same thing. Think the Inuits have a lot of words for snow? Nothing on the Irish for drunk words.


Exhausted or tired.

Example: “It’s time to end this show of a night. I’m completely knackered.”

Hopefully you’ll find these phrases useful when you’re out and about, but please, keep it safe and be responsible – the last thing anyone needs is another langer.  And if you’re feeling brave enough to try your hand at an Irish accent, watch this video below.

Are you going to casually throw any of these words into your lingo on March 17?